CARJ: 'BNP election success shames us all'

Churches have expressed their shock and concern over gains made by the BNP in the European Parliament elections.

Far right party the British Nationalist Party won its first two seats in the European Parliament in its history after receiving 120,139 votes in the North West. Party leader Nick Griffin was elected in the North West region, and former university lecturer Andrew Brons has secured another seat in Yorkshire and Humber.

Margaret Ann Fisken,  Chairperson for the Catholic Association for Racial Justice, (CARJ) an Agency of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, said: "The BNP’s election success shames us all as a society. Nick Griffin may have assumed a thin veneer of respectability since his National Front days, but he and his party remain as xenophobic and racist as ever.

"During the election campaign, the BNP exploited people’s fears and grievances. It sought to adopt the language of Christianity to give legitimacy to its abhorrent and deeply offensive political views. The BNP has not moderated its underlying premise; it continues to pursue an agenda of hate. Sadly, it is now able to do this with greater exposure, funding and support."

Catholic  Peer  Lord Alton of Liverpool, commented: "In the present political climate,  the election of members of the BNP became a sad  inevitability. The crucial thing now is to understand the reasons why their hate-filled message touched a chord with alienated working class white voters. The failure of the traditional political parties to engage at community level and to win over these disenchanted voters through argument,  and the example of dedicated public service, is something which should weigh heavily on the political classes.

"Liberal elites tend to love the frenzy of the Westminster Village and the medley of political soundbites, image making, spin, and obscure,  politically correct,  causes but they need to understand that this cuts little ice with disaffected people in towns like Burnely and Hull.

"Mainstream political parties, which were at one time organised and visible in every part of Britain,  have become dangerously out-of-touch with the grass roots and unless they urgently  remedy this  we will eventually see the BNP, and other extreme groups,  winning more Local Government and even Westminster seats."

Bishop Adrianus van Lyun, president of Commission of the  Catholic Bishops Conferences of the European Community (COMECE)  asked whether Churches had done enough " to raise the European conscience of our fellow citizens."

He said: "The low turnout  (42,9%) indicates that a European Civil Society is still missing. Compared to the Single Market there has been too little focus on civil society. The European Institutions, the national governments, the political parties and perhaps even the Churches should therefore ask themselves: Was our contribution big enough to raise the European conscience of our fellow citizens?"

The Rt Revd James Jones, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, called for  Christians to react to the result: “Why did nearly a quarter of a million people vote BNP..?.. Whenever we hear something that smacks of racism, we should say that that is anti-Christian.” He added: “Christians need to take their responsibility seriously as citizens of this Kingdom as well as of God’s Kingdom and whenever we hear something that goes against Christ’s teaching we must speak out about it.”

Weblinks:  CARJ  -
David Alton -

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