Does the BNP have a future in Kirklees?
Dec 29 2010 by Barry Gibson, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
THE British National Party had hoped for a surge in support in May’s general and local elections. But the party’s sole Kirklees representative on Kirklees lost his seat, leader Nick Griffin finished a distant third in the BNP’s target Parliamentary seat of Barking while in Dewsbury the party’s vote fell from 5,000 to 3,200. Local government reporter BARRY GIBSON asks if the party has a future.
DAVID Exley used to be the face of the BNP in Kirklees. He sent shockwaves through the district when he was elected to represent Heckmondwike on the council in 2003.
But the Birstall man revealed to the Examiner that he left the party in June – just a month after standing as BNP candidate in Cleckheaton in the Kirklees poll and for Batley and Spen in the general election.
He said: “I resigned from the BNP. I shouldn’t really have stood at the elections.
“The party is not putting the emphasis on policies that appeal to the general public.
“At this time of year we should be asking about what’s going on with the winter provisions, we ought to have been talking about the economy and what we can do to alleviate those problems.”
Mr Exley blames the party leader for many of the BNP’s problems.
“I think it’s down to the leadership,’’ he said. “I totally lost faith in Nick Griffin’s ability to lead and prioritise.
“The worst thing that happened to Nick was to be elected to the European Parliament because he’s not able to do that job properly and run the party properly.
“I know there are a lot of people who are disillusioned.”
Mr Exley is the second former BNP Kirklees councillor to leave the party. Colin Auty, who once represented Dewsbury East, quit the party in 2008 after clashing with Mr Griffin.
That leaves just Roger Roberts, the one-time Conservative who represented the BNP on Kirklees until he was defeated at May’s council election.
The former Heckmondwike councillor admits the party has problems – but he believes the BNP can rebuild in Kirklees.
“There has been a lot of internal feuding and splits within the party,” he said.
“The big problem is Nick Griffin and it has been for a long time. When he was elected to the European Parliament he should have stood down as leader.
“He has brought the party as far as he can and he should stand down now.”
But the Dewsbury man, who chairs the Kirklees branch of the party, insists the BNP is not finished.
“Within Kirklees there are some members who have withdrawn their support but only two activists have left the party,” he said.
“The main nucleus is still there and we have to look to rebuild. We should be moving forward in leaps and bounds because the people have been let down by the two main parties.”