Several press reports from North-East England about this:
Northern Echo Bishop’s warning over threat of BNP
Newcastle Journal Bishop joins fight against nationalists
Sunderland Echo Bishop warns people ‘giving up hope’ by voting BNP
Northumberland Gazette BNP voters disaffected with main parties – Bishop
Here is the full text of the email that Tom Wright sent to his clergy:
13 April 2008
Subject: Local elections and BNP from Bishop Tom
With local elections coming up, we face again the unwelcome news of the BNP making potential inroads in our region. Splendid work has been done to counter this by several clergy working with local community leaders, for instance in distributing the pamphlet, ‘Hope Not Hate’. I want to urge all of you to get involved in this effort in whatever local sphere you can.
However, we should also be aware that the reason the BNP can even gain a foothold in people’s affections is because many people in our region feel so disaffected after the last thirty years of national politics that they are in danger of giving up hope in our regular main parties. This isn’t anybody’s fault in particular. But when a party like the BNP seems to be gaining ground we should all ask the question, Why is there a vacuum there that the other parties aren’t filling? What frustrations are there that the BNP are exploiting, and what are the wise ways of reacting to, or even meeting, those needs?
It is one thing to point out, as many have already done, the neo-Nazi tendencies of the BNP, and to warn with a shudder against our society even taking a small step in any such direction. It is another to say, How can we drain the swamp so that this kind of ideology won’t breed again?
None of us (in other words) can be complacent. Opposing the BNP isn’t simply a matter of saying ‘the status quo is working fine, so please reject these idiots’. It should be a matter of saying, What does a healthy society look like and how can we make it clear to our whole population that we are working in the best ways towards that goal? Part of the calling of the churches, following Jesus in his work of bringing God’s kingdom, must be to help communities ask that question and to work with them towards finding robust and positive answers.
Warm greetings and good wishes,
The Bishop of Durham, Auckland Castle.