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Campaigners issue hate crime warning after far-right National Front and BNP backed in Havering elections

PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 May 2018

The results being announced  at the Havering Council election count at the Hornchurch Leisure Centre

The results being announced at the Havering Council election count at the Hornchurch Leisure Centre

Archant

Campaigners are urging Havering residents to speak out against racism after the far-right British National Party won more votes than the Liberal Democrats in one ward in last week's elections.

Far-right parties the National Front and the BNP earned almost 200 votes between them in Havering’s council elections on Thursday, May 3, and the Redbridge Equalities and Community Council (RECC) is concerned such a result may lead to an increase in hate crime.

In Gooshays ward, which had its three wards ultimately claimed by two Labour councillors and a member of the newly-formed Harold Hill Independent Party, National Front candidate Kevin Layzell won 50 votes.

The National Front are a fringe party on the far-right of British politics.

Most commonly described as fascist, the party currently does not have a single elected representative at any level of UK politics, and campaigns heavily on the issue of immigration.

According to its website, the party would, if ever in power, enforce a total ban on immigration and deport all immigrants “to their ancestral homelands”.

Voter turnout in Gooshays was 26.6pc, with the National Front claiming a 0.5pc vote share, meaning one in every 200 votes cast in that ward was for the National Front.

In Saint Andrews ward, BNP candidate Denise Underwood actually gained 1pc of the vote there – meaning that one in every 100 voters backed her.

Overall she claimed 123 votes, four more than Saint Andrews ward’s Lib Dem candidate.

The BNP are Britain’s most well-known far-right party and are less radical than the National Front.

While the party also supports a full ban on immigration, it would not make the deportation of immigrants currently in the UK mandatory, instead offering “strong financial incentives” for immigrants to return to their home countries.

David Landau, of the RECC, which works to combat prejudice and hatred across east London, said that although the results were something of a surprise, far-right parties in east London were still “a shadow of their former selves”.

But he stressed that residents should not become complacent, and urged those who witness hate crime attacks or come across hatred-inciting leaflets to report them to the police as a matter of urgency.

He added: “Where these parties have support it often leads to or reflects a growing problem of hate crime in the areas in which they are active.

“We are starting a project with our sister organisations in other boroughs called Communities Against Hate Crime to encourage people of good will to come forward and support their neighbours if the are victims of hate crime, report incidents and bear witness.

“We do not have a sister organisation in Havering but hope to develop this project in Havering in the future – it would be very useful if people could let us know about any ‘hot spots’ of hate crime in Havering.”

The Redbridge Equalities & Community Council can be contacted on 0208 551 8178 or by emailing office1@redbridgeequalities.org.uk.

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