There are few ways to describe how good Preston has grown as a city without sounding like the archetypal Guardian reader. Our covered market has traditional butchers next to Caribbean fruits and Indian spices, while the walk home through town is a journey similar to many living in university cities and places of arrival for immigrants over the generations. Groups of people outside places of worship can be as commonly Catholics outside St Ignatius' church as they could be Muslims at the copper-domed Mosque on St Paul's Road. Of course Preston is not a shining example of multiculturalism, but nor is it torn by strife on the verge of Oldham-style race riots. The division between people here is no more unusual than anywhere else you could identify, a fact supporters of the far-right British National Party tend to ignore. In the country occupied by the BNP, every town is as strictly divided as Baghdad.
History shows that the extreme prejudice espoused by the BNP has been rejected by Prestonians at every opportunity. The 2000 parliamentary by-election saw the appearance of their first candidate on a Preston ballot paper. Result - 1.1% of the valid votes cast, "NAZI SCUM" shouted by members of what was then the Socialist Alliance. Local candidates from them and the similarly far-right England First Party have been thrown out without hesitation. This encourages me; the shadows of their policies are dark and frightening and cold.
The BNP do not represent anything like the best intentions of the country. Their party election broadcasts are confused - sounding over-eager to underline how far away they are from racism while underlining their ignorance on asylum and immigration with every assurance to the contrary. Repatriation of "non-Britons" is a recipe for economic disaster, while nothing is said about the cost of forcing hitherto "oppressed" underclass Britons into work. However else you describe their policies, I suppose the BNP clearly want work to set us free.
Nick Griffin, their current leader, wants to stress how much the party have changed, but the truth is not hard to find. Just scratch the skin to find the racism beneath. Candidates for them who find the truth are even asking voters not to vote for them.
The North West region elects on June 4th. There will be eight seats elected, the final most likely to be the tight, close fight between BNP, UKIP, Green, and Liberal Democrat. When all votes are counted across Europe, I hope with all sense and reason that the BNP have been defeated.
My country is a proud island nation, its language formed by immigrants and international influences, its people as accepting of fish 'n' chips as lamb bhuna, as likely to sprinkle through their language words from black America or Hindi as they are the Oxford English Dictionary. The United Kingdom is a nation which helped defeat the kind of enemy who slaughtered millions of people, including their own, for reasons of extreme and absolute prejudice and hatred. We can be a nation which defeats such bile again. On June 4th, I hope any other choice is made to help defeat the British National Party. The good of the nation will come from the defeat of their reckless and offensive racism.