Sunday, 28 October 2007

Labour split in Maryport

Steve Harris with me in Maryport back in May and Nigel Williamson.

There's an interesting little drama unfolding in Maryport in West Cumbria. I'll give you some background.

Maryport is the second largest population centre in the Workington constituency where I am the British National Party's prospective parliamentary candidate. In May my wife Tina, and I stood as BNP candidates in two of the town's three wards polling over 600 votes between us which was over 30% of the vote. Maryport was once solid Labour with no elections for 12 years prior to this year because there were never any other candidates to stand against them.

The man behind our successful campaign was our agent Steve Harris. Now he is a Maryport lad, born and bred, and has a high local profile. He was with us every day of the four week campaign and when we were out doing the rounds he seemed to know everyone. We often saw Labour campaigning and it quickly became clear that there were two different groups within that Party. One group would stop and chat and we would exchange leaflets while the other put their heads down and totally ignored us. In fact, we heard that they had a meeting where all the helpers were told not to speak to the BNP under any circumstances. The group that broke the rules was the Old Labour one. Traditional Labour councillors and campaigners who admitted that they were dismayed at the changes in their Party of the past ten years and who read our leaflets and said they couldn't argue against any of our policies.

Steve Harris has done a great job for us in the town setting up a substantial Freedom newspaper round and securing a variety of venues for our meetings. He's got together a smashing team of helpers, all estate based, so that when someone gets a BNP leaflet through their door, they can look out their window and in most cases will know or at least recognise the leafleter.

Well that's the background, now here's the story. After the May elections Steve was asked whether he would like to be co-opted on to Maryport town council. One-in-three people at the May elections had voted BNP so it seemed only right that they should be represented, even though the council was non-political. Steve was delighted and agreed but when he turned up for the meeting he suddenly found that the Labour Party had four of their own up for co-option to the four places on offer. I'll let the West Cumberland Times & Star tell you the rest of the story.

Sex-surf councillor gets his seat back
A MAN forced to resign from Allerdale and Maryport councils for using council computers to surf sex sites has been co-opted back on to Maryport Town Council.

It has been alleged by a former town mayor that Kevin Smith was voted back by councillors trying to keep out a BNP candidate. As a result, ex-mayor Tony Johnstone has resigned from the Labour group in protest and is now sitting as an Independent councillor.

Mr Smith, of Camp Road, Maryport, quit Allerdale after being confronted with a list of adult website pages he had visited. He had signed a code of conduct which stipulated that the council’s computers were not for personal use. Mr Smith, 42 at the time, had represented Maryport on Allerdale’s Netherhall Ward for 10 years and had been a councillor for 18 years. He quit both positions and also resigned as secretary of Labour’s Solway branch. Mr Smith could not be contacted this week but at the time of the incident he said he had gone on to the websites to see what the internet was all about. He said: “It was just the curiosity of a red-blooded male.”

Keith Little, leader of Maryport’s Labour group, said: “He had been looking up sites with material you can see on television after 9pm any day of the week.” Coun Little denied that Mr Smith had been readmitted to council to keep out a BNP candidate. He said: “We had four vacancies to fill on the council. We advertised them and we received nominations, including one from a BNP candidate. When the council voted on the nominations, Mr Smith was among the winners. “It is a long time since he broke council rules. He was a good councillor and, from what I understand, he still gets people approaching him on council business.”

But Coun Johnstone said he believed that Labour members had chosen Mr Smith over Stephen Harris, a BNP candidate, because they were concerned about having a BNP councillor. He said: “Stephen is a local lad. He was not standing for council because of any interest in national politics but because he wanted to serve Maryport.”

I have just this minute spoken to Steve Harris, catching him before he was off to sell poppies for the British Legion in Maryport town centre. He told me:

"I have been told that there is disquiet within the ranks of the Labour Party over what is going on. The split between the councillors and activists who are just for New Labour and those who are more interested in looking after the interests of Maryport is growing bigger by the day. Yesterday I was stopped in the street by another former Labour councillor who said that for the next elections he would be campaigning for the BNP."

A disgraced Labour councillor suddenly rehabilitated. A Labour Party councillor and mayor crossing the floor to become an Independent. Old Labour Party activists letting Steve Harris know they are unhappy with the treatment he has received. Former Labour councillors offering to campaign for the BNP at election time. This drama is set to run and run.

Congratulations to Nigel Williamson, another one of our dedicated band of BNP activists here in Cumbria, who has been co-opted on to Broughton Moor Parish Council. Nigel has been a tireless campaigner for the BNP over the past 12 months and he will be a great asset to the local community.

And finally to football. The FA Cup dream for Workington Reds lives on. Yesterday we beat Boston United 1-0 at Borough Park and have been drawn away to Division Two side Bury, in the First Round Proper. Reds received a very welcome £10,000 for the victory yesterday, and it was a good job they did, because Boston presented us with a massive 'transport' bill. The home side in the FA Cup competition pay the transport costs of the away side. Now a coach for the four hour trip from Boston to Workington and back again, I'm told would be around £800. Yet Boston claimed the trip was five and a half hours and too much to do in one day so they stayed overnight in one of the most expensive hotels in the area. Looking after their entourage cost the Reds £3,200. With gate receipts of around £5,000 and half of this too going to Boston, Reds would have made a loss on the day if they had not won the game. OK, Boston have got their money worries too, but that sort of behaviour is not in the spirit of the FA Cup.

No comments: