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The battle for Barking and Dagenham

The Conservatives will be looking to make gains on Barking and Dagenham Council although the key objective is to take the Parliamentary seat of Dagenham and Rainham. The candidacy of the BNP leader Nick Griffin in Barking probably means there will be greater media interest in that contest.

So far as the Council elections are concerned the prospect of a vigorous Conservative campaign across the borough denouncing the misdeeds of the Labour-run Council is the greatest threat to the BNP. In the past the Conservatives did not even field candidatesin many wards. A complacent failing Labour Council was able to get some of its candidates elected unopposed. This proved fertile territory for the BNP. But more recently the Conservatives have been making progress - notably with a byelection victory two years ago.

We also had the election for Mayor of London two years ago. Among first preference votes from Barking and Dagenham there were 16,799 for Ken Livingstone and 15,710 for Boris Johnson. This is really pretty close. The breakdown for Ward resultscarries a health warning, as they did not include Postal Votes, but it is still encouraging that these show Boris beating Livingstone in 11 of the 17 wards. (The BNP's candidate got 6,352 first preference votes across the borough and did not got a majority in a single Ward.)

Barking and Dagenham Council is rife with fraud and funds four full time members of staff to work on trade union activities. On health and safety grounds they have banned swimmers from doing lengths- only allowing them to swim the width of a pool. They have targeted children for a gay pridemessage. Yet they have chosen as the Council leader, Cllr Liam Smith, a man with track record of homophobic loutishness.

The Council spends £2.3 million on publicity. They employ 12 staff on over £100,000.

The BNP opposition councillors offer a rival brand of socialism. They claim to offer lower Council Tax but are constantly proposing more spending - their proposal for £3 million for improving shopping arcades would mean 6% on the Council Tax for starters. They trump the Labour Party in hostility to home ownership stressing they are "totally against right to buy." Indeed the propose spending another £4 million to buy back Council housing. They want the state landlord to be the landlord - but to have different coloured tenants.


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