Stoke – BNP wins close-run election

The BNP unexpectedly won the Abbey Green Ward in Stoke-on-Trent after
a very closely fought election. The betrayal of working-class people by
New Labour and the lack of a mass alternative has created fertile ground
for the growth of the BNP nationally, helped by a number of recent

Andy Bentley, Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke-on-Trent city council had provided a piece of land for the
building of a new mosque just a mile away from the ward. The BNP gained
votes by opportunistically raising fears about the mosque becoming a
focal point for Islamic extremists and highlighting the fact that it was
provided at a token rent of only £1.

But it was national developments, such as the revelation that hundreds
of foreign criminals were on the loose throughout Britain, which proved
crucial in increasing their vote in many parts of the country. National
media coverage showing that 80% of people surveyed in one area of London
had considered voting for the BNP gave them a certain legitimacy and
lessened some of the stigma attached to voting for them.

However, the BNP’s victory in Abbey Green doesn’t represent a
significant increase in their support. Despite the favourable factors and
a higher turnout of voters, they still only received 91 more votes than
in the last local elections in 2004. The BNP won with just 25% of the
vote, which is identical to their share in 2004 and seven points lower
than in 2003.

The main reason for this was the role of the Socialist Party in
providing a serious working class based alternative to the attacks of New
Labour. This small increase in the BNP’s vote was eclipsed by the very
significant increase of 196 votes received by the Socialist Party. We
were the only party to increase our share of the vote in this election –
from 12% to 17%. In fact, the Socialist Party is the only party which has
increased its number of votes every year since we first stood in 2003.

In Abbey Green, Labour were hammered. They lost 463 votes from 2004
and the Tories were down by 170. Echoing Labour lies, sleaze and
corruption nationally, the local Labour machine was a disgrace.

Completely ignoring the threat posed by the BNP, they devoted two of
their three leaflets to telling lies about the Socialist Party and making
personal attacks on our candidate and the sitting councillor, Paul
Sutton. Paul’s ‘crime’ was to make a principled stand against Labour’s
relentless cuts in jobs and services, annual increases in council tax and

In Stoke-on-Trent, New Labour is in even deeper crisis than before the
elections. They have lost overall control of the council and the leader
of the Labour group, Mike Salih, has lost his seat and quit the party
because they are "Tories in disguise".

While the local Labour machine was attacking us in their leaflets we
were also playing a major part in building for the marvellous
demonstration of 5,000 NHS workers in defence of NHS jobs and services.

Only the Socialist Party was able to put activists on the streets
every day and our election campaign was well received by the vast
majority on the doorstep.

Twice as many of our posters were put up in windows as Labour. As a
result of our consistent work we have earned a tremendous respect in the
area and many have expressed an interest in joining the Socialist Party.


BNP 744

Labour 613

Paul Sutton Socialist Party 508

Conservative 424

Independent 363

Liberal 334