From The Scotsman:
http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=199882007POLITICIANS and anti-racism campaigners reacted with outrage last night when it emerged that the far-right British National Party was to get its own election broadcast during this year's Holyrood campaign as well as hundreds of thousands of pounds in free election publicity from the taxpayer.
The Scotsman has learned that the BNP is to field candidates across Scotland for the first time in May. It will put up 32 candidates, four on each of the eight regional lists.
This is partly an attempt to maximise the far-right vote. But it is also a tactic to get the most out of the electoral rules. Any party which stands at least four candidates in every region is entitled to a party election broadcast.
The party said it hopes all its candidates will live in the area they aim to represent, but it has three Scottish members, currently living in England, who are willing to stand north of the border if required.
As well as gaining a nationwide television platform, the party will also be able to claim postal costs from the government for each candidate to send a leaflet to every voter in their region or constituency.
This is another rule established to help candidates get their message out, but the BNP will use it to send out 2.6 million leaflets, one to every household in Scotland. The cost of second-class postage on these will be Â£594,000.
The three to four-minute party election broadcast, at prime time on BBC1 Scotland, BBC2 and the Scottish parts of the ITV network, is the equivalent of about Â£75,000 of advertising time - giving the BNP almost Â£670,000 in free publicity.
Christine May, for Labour, said she was outraged that the BNP was using the system just to get itself a party election broadcast.
She said: "This is a clear misuse of the electoral system. They are doing it because there is no other way of getting publicity for their obnoxious policies.
"They are treating the electorate with the same sort of contempt they usually reserve for ethnic minorities."
Chris Bartter, for the Unison union, which has campaigned consistently against racism, said: "We have had previous experience of the BNP's message of hate. In the 2004 European elections they used our taxes to send out material that was full of half-truths, mistruths and groundless assertions.
"The BNP masquerade as respectable politicians, but the reality is that they abuse taxpayers' money to promote their aim of whipping up hatred against immigrants and asylum seekers."
And Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action for Housing, said: "
These are fascists masquerading as politicians and we will see them off. We will make sure they don't get a platform."
Kenny Smith, BNP spokesman in Scotland, said the party had most of its candidates in place and was confident of getting the remainder within weeks.
He said the BNP aimed to attract 40,000 votes across Scotland. "A crew from BNP TV will come up to film the broadcast nearer the time," he said.
The party believes its anti-immigration approach will win votes, particularly in Glasgow.
Mr Smith said: "There are people coming in who get housing and benefits which local people don't get. They have to sit in sub-standard, damp housing while other people get things in five minutes."
Opposition parties were united in their condemnation of the BNP.
Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy leader of the SNP, said: "I'm sure Scots will ensure that any attempts by the BNP to gain an electoral foothold in Scotland will be firmly rejected."
Bill Aitken, for the Tories, said: "I am sure they will be just as successful as they were last time - when they disappeared without trace in Glasgow."
Tommy Sheridan, leader of Solidarity, said he would refuse to share a platform, debate or attend meetings with the BNP.
He said: "These people epitomise hate, intolerance and racial division. Violence follows them wherever they go. They would deny democracy to all others if they could and therefore deserve no democratic tolerance."
â¢ THE British National Party has achieved little success in Scotland in the past.
In 1999, it stood in the European elections and got just 3,000 votes.
In 2003, at the Scottish Parliament elections, the BNP stood candidates on the list in Glasgow and received 2,344 votes - just 1.1 per cent of the vote.
In 2004, the party had its biggest success, getting 20,000 votes in the European elections, when the whole of the country was counted as one region, electing seven MEPs together.
At the 2005 general election, the BNP stood just two candidates in Scotland, in Glasgow North East and Glasgow Central, and got between 2.5 and 3 per cent of the ballot - 1,571 votes.
All these performances have been disappointing for the BNP in the context of the party's record across the UK.