Governor will be BNP candidate

3rd October 2003 at 01:00
Primary parents' representative aims to be far-right councillor, reports Michael Shaw

Primary governor Heath Clegg is standing for the hard-right British National Party in a council election.

The 32-year-old is confident of becoming the third BNP councillor in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, He has only recently been elected as a parent-governor at Whitehill primary school in Halifax, but his wife has been involved with its parent-teacher association for several years.

He is one of two BNP candidates fighting for seats on October 16.

Anti-racism groups see his selection as part of the BNP's efforts to seek broader appeal by trying to ditch its racist image.

Mr Clegg said he used to vote Conservative but joined the BNP because he felt that the Tory party "couldn't decide if it was left or right".

Although Whitehill's pupils are currently all white, he said he was happy with schools which were ethnically diverse. "If you know me you know I am not a racist," he said. "I welcome diversity, as long as it's legal. I have no problem with people's colour or ethnicity.

"What I am angry about is the illegal asylum seekers - they are too much of a burden."

BNP education policies include foreign pupils being taught separately if their English is not of a satisfactory standard and the re-introduction of traditional teaching methods.

The party, which has 17 council seats in nine authorities, also says that British Sign Language should be taught in preference to foreign languages.

Mr Clegg would not comment on the party's national education policies and said he had no plans to press for their introduction in the 400-pupil primary. However, he said he would be pushing for improved road safety around the school.

Whitehill's head, Chris Stead, said he hoped that Mr Clegg, like all the governors, would leave party political matters behind him during governors'


"Elected governors have to leave their political affliations to one side and put the needs of the school first," he said. "We have a broad and balanced governing body and that's how I am sure it will continue."

Mr Stead said he would not vote for the BNP but could understand why it might appeal to some.

The Commission for Racial Equality said the BNP's ability to gain votes from those who do not usually take part in local elections is one of the main reasons why it had won council seats.

Trevor Phillips, CRE chairman, said that a school governing body was no place for a member of the BNP. "Schools, through their governors, have a legal duty to promote racial equality and eliminate discrimination," he said. "I find it hard to fathom how the BNP could possibly entertain, let alone uphold, this ethos."

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