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(photo credit: AP [file])
The Board of Deputies of British Jews has launched a campaign to stop the far-right British National Party (BNP) from making any progress at the European elections in June.
A new campaign kit was launched last week to encourage people to vote for mainstream parties and assist grassroots activities in the run-up to the June 4 elections.
The campaign, whose slogan is "Your Voice or Theirs," encourages local communities and groups to unite and run local events to underscore the threat from the BNP and show the importance of voting for a mainstream political party. Over the next few weeks, the Board plans to distribute 1,000 of the kits, which contain everything needed to run a local campaign including posters, postcards, leaflets, stickers and balloons. A regional support network and helpline for local groups have also been set up.
The Board of Deputies said it wants its campaign to be a cross-community effort to stand together against racism and extremism and send a message to "those who advocate the politics of hate."
"As a community, we need to unite to say no to the politics of hate and extremism wherever they may be," said Board president Henry Grunwald. "The unhappy reality is that the BNP is gaining momentum and may well be successful in the forthcoming elections."
"I, for one, am not prepared to say that I sat back and did nothing whilst a national racist campaign is launched across Britain. The Board is doing everything it can to support local community groups in our collective fight against the BNP and I hope that, collectively, we will rise to the occasion," Grunwald added.
The BNP says it intends to put up candidates in every region of the UK, which - if it won - would mean the party would represent a major city such as Manchester or Birmingham in Europe. In some constituencies, the BNP needs only 7.5 percent of the vote to gain a seat in the European Parliament. In last year's London mayoral elections, the BNP gained a seat on the London Assembly.
"We want the community to spread the word about the elections and the threat posed by the BNP. Use your democratic right and register to vote by May 18 for the elections on June 4. The higher the turnout across the country, the harder it is for the BNP to succeed. Every vote for a mainstream political party is a vote against extremism," Grunwald said.
The Board campaign includes a Website (www.fight-racism.co.uk) - and Facebook group: "Your Voice or Theirs."