Back in 2003, Sunderland became the first city in Britain to have a BNP candidate in every ward in the local elections and Sunderland BNP found themselves the subject of local, national and even international media attention. They polled just under 14,000 across the city and a seat in the council chamber must have seemed just around the corner.
So when the result of a by-election in Barnes ward was announced on 24th November 2005, it confirmed just how far the fascist party has fallen on Wearside in under three years.
The BNP got just 67 votes, at 3% of the vote, its a distant last place. The party’s expectations are currently so low in Sunderland that the few BNP supporters present at the election count didn’t look surprised. Candidate Ian Leadbitter even overcame his humiliation to make a short speech thanking his voters. It would have been almost as quick to phone each of them and thank them personally. Regional Organiser Kevin Scott wisely tried to distance himself from the disaster by staying away.
Predictably, the BNP were offering excuses and positive spin before the votes were even counted. The Conservatives had it in the bag, they said – it was never a strong BNP ward anyway. This doesn’t explain why over 350 BNP voters in Barnes have deserted them since 2004’s elections. The BNP consoled themselves with the fact that Labour only came in third. however its hard to see what comfort this was when Labour still managed to beat the BNP by more than 400 votes.
With results like these, dwindling membership and attendance at meetings, and no serious campaigning for two and a half years, it must be tempting for the last remnants of Sunderland BNP to call it a day altogether.
|Peter Taylor||Lib Dem||547||24%|