The Jewish Chronicle today gives its backing to a community-wide campaign to prevent the British National Party from winning seats in the May 1 local and London elections.
Standing for mayor: Richard BarnbrookIn London, there are particular fears that the BNP could achieve the five per cent threshold needed to give it its first seat in the London Assembly. It is believed the BNP will contest seats in 23 councils in all.
A number of communal groups are working together to diminish the BNP’s chances. The Board of Deputies and the London Jewish Forum are campaigning under the slogan “Your Voice or Theirs”. The Board’s activities will concentrate on getting as many members of the Jewish community as possible out to vote.
Searchlight, the anti-Fascist magazine, is running its own nationwide campaign, called “Hope Not Hate”.
Gerry Gable, publisher of Searchlight, warned: “A low turnout will only benefit the BNP. Our advice is to get out and vote for any of the democratic parties, and lift the vote.
“Why should Jewish people be worried? Take a look at the BNP’s standard reading material and you will see antisemitism in almost every form. The BNP say they have changed, but they are the same Nazis they always were.”
Ruth Smeeth, the Community Security Trust’s anti-racism campaigns co-ordinator, who launched the “Your Voice or Theirs” campaign at the Board’s plenary meeting on Sunday, said: “The BNP has grown in strength in the last 10 years. They have candidates standing for the GLA for the first time and councillors for re-election. They could take as many as three seats in London.
“Last year, the BNP stood in a by-election in Stanmore and got five per cent of the vote. The London election is scary because, if the voting levels remain the same, they will need only an extra 5,000 votes to win a seat.”
She added: “The last elections clashed with European elections, but not this time. Then, the UK Independence Party got 11 per cent, but now it has collapsed and the BNP could capture that vote.
“The only way to stop this is to vote, and that is why we are launching this campaign backed by the Board, the London Jewish Forum, the Jewish Leadership Council and the CST.”
She told deputies that the Board’s campaign will be backed up with advertisements in the Jewish press and a dedicated website, while the Board will work with similar ethnic-minority campaigns such as Operation Black Vote to try to increase voting levels in other communities. Last year’s mayor of Barnet Council, Polish-born Eva Greenspan, will be the public face of the Board’s campaign on posters, as a migrant who would be sent “home” under the BNP’s policies.
Ms Smeeth warned: “Behind the scenes, the BNP is exactly who we think they are and we must remember that.”