Shock as BNP takes three Burnley seats

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Indy Politics

The far-right British National Party today won a third seat on Burnley council after a fifth recount.

Terry Grogan, 43, scraped in in third place in the Gannow ward.

In the early hours of this morning, two other BNP candidates were elected to the Lancashire town's council. They were David Edwards and Carol Hughes.

The whole of Burnley council had been up for re-election and each voter had to cast three votes for their preferred candidate with the top three in each ward being elected.

In his ward Mr Grogan polled 817 votes, just four more than fourth-placed Patrick Pierney of the Labour party.

The third seat came as BNP leader Nick Griffin declared that his party's performance was not just a protest vote.

Mr Griffin said the council seats won by his party were a long-considered response from people in the town to the problems it has over funding and immigration.

He told reporters: "White people in Burnley and towns like this have been discriminated against by the council through funding and by the police by not taking notice when they are the victims of racist attacks.

"To some extent it was a protest vote but with the effort by the mass media over the last few weeks telling people not to vote BNP, people have not voted for us on a whim. It is much more than just a protest vote."

Minutes before the recount was announced, Mr Griffin was covered in water by a protester who was then led away by police.

Former member of the Commission for Racial Equality, Shahid Malik said his fears that people in the town would be "hoodwinked" by the BNP had come true.

"Many of us are still in shock," said Mr Malik, who is the only ethnic minority member of Labour's National Executive Committee.

"We expected them to get some success but nonetheless still feel very numb.

"It is profoundly sad, not just for Burnley, but for the rest of the country. I feel very disappointed that so many people were hoodwinked by the BNP."

People in the town now had to get ready to work together to tackle its problems, he said.

"I do not think that towns like Burnley and Oldham are racist towns but they are towns where there is racism and that racism has not been dealt with head on.

"This town has complex problems which need long-term solutions and that is what we are doing now," he added.

Minutes before the recount was announced, Mr Griffin was covered in water by a protester who was then led away by police.