Published on Saturday, 30 June 2012 15:06 Written by Sonia Gable
A by-election for Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 26 July will pit two former British National Party councillors against each other. Michael Coleman, who lost his seat last year, is the BNP group leader in the city. The by-election is perhaps a welcome interlude before he faces trial later in the year on a charge of racially aggravated harassment.
Coleman will be opposed by Mark Leat, standing for the Democratic Nationalists. Leat was expelled from the BNP in May 2007 and failed to regain election to the council in 2008 as an independent.
One of the many splinter groups from the BNP, the DNs were formed in March 2008 by two former Bradford BNP activists. The party has barely moved beyond Bradford, and Stoke is a venture into new territory. We do not know whether Leat is the only member. Whether or not he has anyone to help him distribute leaflets, on past form the DNs are unlikely to achieve more than a derisory vote.
The DNs are one of the keenest groups trying to push Andrew Brons, the dissident BNP MEP, to form a new party. So far Brons remains wedded to his view that the time is not right. Instead they are trying to form an alliance with the equally small England First Party, which fielded six candidates in the Stoke council elections last year, none going head to head with the BNP. The two parties achieved similar results and none of their candidates were elected.
Leat may be in a good position to head the negotiations between the EFP and DNs: he was one of last year’s EFP candidates and secured the party’s best result with 19.2%.
Also standing on 26 July is the UK Independence Party. It will be interesting to see how much inroad the UKIP can make into the core support the BNP still enjoys in the city where in 2009 it had nine councillors. There are six other candidates.
The July issue of Searchlight includes articles on the latest developments in the BNP and its far-right rivals, and an investigation on the UK Independence Party.