UK Jews take stand against British Nat'l Party in local elections

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has launched a new campaign, with the slogan, "Your Voice or Theirs."

nazi bnp 88 (photo credit: )
nazi bnp 88
(photo credit: )
Community organizations have come together to encourage the British Jewish community to vote in upcoming local elections across the country that could otherwise provide gains for the ultra-nationalist British National Party (BNP). The Board of Deputies of British Jews - working with the London Jewish Forum and Community Security Trust - has launched a new campaign, with the slogan, "Your Voice or Theirs," to raise awareness of the importance of first registering to vote and then voting in the May 1 local elections. "The campaign aims to raise awareness of the history of the BNP and the threats they pose to both the Jewish community and community cohesion in the UK," Board of Deputies president Henry Grunwald said. "We're asking everybody to use their democratic right and register to vote by April 16 for the elections on May 1. "The higher the turnout across the country, the harder it [will be] for the BNP to succeed." In London, a city the board views as a "key battleground in the war on the politics of extremism," there are fears that the BNP could achieve the five percent threshold needed to give it its first seat in the London Assembly, part of the Greater London Authority (GLA), the elected body that scrutinizes the activities of the mayor. The far-right party has already begun campaigning and it is believed they will contest seats in 23 councils in all. "Every vote for a mainstream political party is... a vote against extremism," Grunwald added. An increased turnout will make it significantly harder for the BNP to get a seat in the elections. "The BNP has grown in strength in the last 10 years; they have candidates standing for the GLA for the first time and councillors for re-election and they could take as many as three seats in London," said Ruth Smeeth, Community Security Trust's anti-racism campaign coordinator. "Last year, the BNP stood in a by-election in Stanmore [in north London] and got five percent of the vote. The London election is scary because, if the voting levels remain the same, they will need only an extra 5,000 votes to win a seat. "The only way to stop this is to vote, and that is why we are launching this campaign," she added. "A low turnout will only benefit the BNP. Our advice is to get out and vote for any of the democratic parties and 'lift' the vote," Gerry Gable, publisher of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, told the Jewish Chronicle this week. "Why should Jewish people be worried? Take a look at the BNP's standard reading material and you will see anti-Semitism in almost every form. The BNP say they have changed, but they are the same Nazis they always were." The "Your Voice or Theirs" campaign includes a dedicated Web site and in the lead-up to the elections will use advertisements in the Jewish press to spread their message. The board is also working with similar ethnic-minority initiatives such as Operation Black Vote to increase levels of awareness in other communities of the importance of voting.