Far right bottom two in Mayor bid

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Mike Whitby of the British National Party

More than 1.5% of votes cast in Liverpool’s first directly-elected mayoral contest went to the two candidates standing on far-right platforms.

Although this left the BNP and National Front in the bottom two places, it was a result which one rival candidate described as “very worrying”.The British National Party’s Mike Whitby and the National Front’s Peter Quiggins shared over 1,500 votes but finished 11th and 12th respectively out of 12 candidates, as Liverpool voted overwhelmingly to elect Labour’s Joe Anderson as its first mayor.

Tony Mulhearn, the Trade Unionist And Socialist Coalition candidate who came fifth with over 4,700 votes, said the result in Liverpool was cause for concern. He told JMU Journalism: “The far right does not exist in the UK to the same extent as it does in other European countries.

“However, these results are very worrying and unless the situation improves on issues such as housing and unemployment they could end up playing a greater part in British politics in the future.”

The campaign was notable for the controversy surrounding the two far-right candidates who were both arrested in the days running up to the election.

Mr Whitby was arrested and bailed for alleged electoral fraud, and Mr Quiggins was arrested and charged with a public order offence at a high-profile trial at Liverpool Crown court a day before the mayoral election.

MAYOR VOTE 2012

Votes cast 101,301 (31.7% turnout)

1 Joe Anderson (Labour) 58,448 votes
2 Liam Fogarty (Independent) 8,292
3 Richard Kemp (Lib Dem) 6,238
4 John Coyne (Green Party) 5,175
5 Tony Mulhearn (TUSC) 4,792
6 Steve Radford (Liberal) 4,442
7 Tony Caldeira (Conservative) 4,425
8 Adam Heatherington (UKIP) 2,352
9 Paul Rimmer (Eng Democrats) 1,400
10 Jeff Berman (Independent) 1,362
11 Mike Whitby (BNP) 1,015
12 Peter Quiggins (National Front) 566

As Anderson was confirmed mayor, a small group of mainly National Front supporters and a few BNP supporters made their discontent clear by loudly heckling and shouting insults at Anderson during his victory speech.

Before the election results were confirmed Whitby explained that he expected to get a low score because of what he alleged was “a smear campaign by the Liverpool Echo” that had damaged his reputation. He earlier told JMU Journalism: “We only expect about 5% but we want to show voters there is an alternative.”

Although nowhere near the 17.9% vote share received by France’s National Front candidate, Marine Le-Pen, in the French presidential election recently, or the rising poll numbers of far right candidates Greece, it is still a relatively high
total for Liverpool.

One of the other nationalist candidates Paul Rimmer, from the English Democrats, which in the past has been linked to the BNP, finished with 1,400 votes accounting for over 1% of the 101,301 votes that were cast in total.

After the results were announced Rimmer told JMU Journalism he was pleased with his showing: “I basically stood as an unknown candidate. I just appeared a few times on the radio and the TV obviously people liked what I had to say. I have come in the top 10. I have more votes than the BNP which is a household name.”

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About Christopher Cunningham, JMU Journalism