BNP unveil Dagenham candidate for general election 2015

Tess Culnane

Tess Culnane - Credit: Archant

The far-right British National Party (BNP) have unveiled a parliamentary candidate for Dagenham and Rainham, five years after ex-leader Nick Griffin was soundly beaten in the borough.

Former BNP leader Nick Griffin (left) failed to take (right) Margaret Hodge's Labour seat in Barking

Former BNP leader Nick Griffin (left) failed to take (right) Margaret Hodge's Labour seat in Barking at the 2010 general election. - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Mother of four, and grandmother to “numerous”, building secretary Tess Culnane from Forest Hill, Lewisham, claims the party is in a better shape than they were in 2010.

Mr Griffin, who quit the BNP last year, challenged Margaret Hodge’s Barking seat in the last general election, finishing third with 6,620 votes – behind the Conservatives’s 8,073, and 24,628 Labour votes.

At the end of the count Mrs Hodge delivered a stinging attack on the BNP saying: “The message of Barking to the BNP is clear, get out and stay out.

“You are not wanted here and your vile politics have no place in British democracy.”

Currently in her seventies, although declining to be any more specific, Mrs Culnane joined the BNP 35 years ago before switching to rival far-right group the National Front shortly after the last election – unsuccessfully standing in the 2008 Haltemprice and Howden by-election in Humberside.

Insisting her allegiance change was down to dissatisfactions with Mr Griffin, Mrs Culnane has no reservations about the BNP returning to Barking and Dagenham.

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“The party’s changed since the last election,” she told the Post. “The British National Party had very little to do with me at that time.

“I left because I wasn’t happy with Nick Griffin, but it’s a new party now, much more to my suiting with some very strong policies.

“I originally joined this party because I could see the downfall of this country and that’s why I’m standing.”

Once dubbed a “neo Nazi granny” by opponents, according to the Standard in 2010, Mrs Culnane insists the label was not well-received.

“It was very upsetting,” she added. “Members of my family were bombed and maimed by the Nazis.

“You can call me anything, within reason, but you will never be able to call me a traitor to this country.”