BNP to use Prophet cartoon in campaign

The extreme right-wing party, which hopes to field 1,000 candidates in England, will include in its campaign material one of the cartoons which sparked outrage among Muslims across the world, showing the Prophet Mohamed with a bomb in his turban.

One leaflet asks voters: "Are you concerned about the growth of Islam in Britain? Make Thursday 4 May Referendum Day." It adds: "We owe it to our children to defend our Christian culture."

Labour MPs condemned the BNP's attack on Muslims while also urging their party's leaders to take more seriously the threat from the BNP in its working-class heartlands.

Mainstream parties say the BNP's campaigning has become more sophisticated. The party is using telephone canvassing for the first time and playing down its hostility to blacks and Asians in order to focus on Muslims. Other campaign literature contrasts the jailing of the Muslim cleric Abu Hamza for inciting murder and racial hatred with the partial acquittal of Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, who faces a retrial on unresolved racial hatred charges on 15 May.

The BNP, which now has 19 councillors, is expected to focus efforts in areas where it has performed strongly in the past such as parts of Lancashire, Yorkshire, the West Midlands and east London, where it won 35 per cent of the vote in recent by-elections in Barking. Its share of the vote rose from 1 per cent at the 1992 general election to 4.2 per cent last year.

Labour MPs are worried that the BNP could capture more council seats by exploiting the disenchantment with the Government among traditional Labour supporters and stoking fears about the Muslim community. The MPs fear that Tony Blair's determination to retain the support of Middle England could leave Labour vulnerable to a BNP advance in working-class areas.

Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP for Dagenham, said: "The BNP's pitch is to be more Labour than New Labour with a virulently anti-Muslim agenda." He said Labour's strategy of targeting swing voters in marginal seats was "diametrically at odds" with the need to reassure traditional supporters about the Government's record.

Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting, called on Labour to agree pacts with Liberal Democrats and Greens under which one of them would take on the BNP in its target seats and the others would stand down. Such a strategy helped to defeat the BNP in a Barking by-election last year, when it tried to exploit the London bombings. Mr Khan said: "We have not successfully tackled the new BNP, who are suit-wearing men, and some women, Oxbridge graduates, who talk in pleasant language."

Ian McCartney, the Labour chairman, said: "The BNP's strategy is straight out of the Nazi textbook. Their tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated but they always involve blaming one part of the community for local problems. They take up legitimate grievances and they exploit those issues for their own racist aims."

A BNP spokesman said it would campaign mainly on local issues and denied it was "exploiting" recent events. "We are saying that there are worries in society about these issues," he added.

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
weird news... and film it, obviously
Arts & Entertainment
tv
News
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
News
peopleJay Z and Beyoncé to buy £5.5m London townhouse
Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
Arts & Entertainment
With Jo Joyner in 'Trying Again'
tvHe talks to Alice Jones on swapping politics for pillow talk
News
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Sport
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
Student
student
News
<b>Rebecca Adlington</b>
<br />This, the first British swimmer to win two
Olympic gold medals in 100 years, is the eversmiling
face of the athletes who will, we're
confident, make us all proud at London 2012
peopleRebecca Adlington on 'nose surgery'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Clinical Negligence

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence - Oxford An opportunity f...

Projects Financial Analyst - Global Technology firm

£55000 - £62000 per annum + outstanding benefits and bonus: Pro-Recruitment Gr...

Reception Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Reception teacher required for an Outs...

Commercial B2B Pricing Specialist - Global Bids and Tenders

£35000 - £45000 per annum + excellent company benefits : Pro-Recruitment Group...

Day In a Page

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

Sam Wallace

Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

Through the screen

British Pathé opens its archives
The man behind the papier mâché mask

Frank Sidebottom

The man behind the papier mâché mask
Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

Boston runs again

Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

40 years of fostering and holding the babies

In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents