Scotland politics

Scottish election: British National Party profile

BNP rosette
Image caption Until recently, the BNP had enjoyed very limited electoral success

In 1982, John Tyndall formed the British National Party after being expelled from the National Front.

Mr Tyndall, a proponent of white racial superiority, had a long history in the far-right movement, having led a succession of groups since the 1950s.

He was jailed on a number of occasions for incitement to racial hatred, paramilitary organising and possession of a gun.

At its founding, the BNP was explicitly racist. It restricted membership to "indigenous British people" until 2010, when it was legally forced to change its constitution by the equalities watchdog.

The party currently backs an immediate halt to all immigration, and the "voluntary resettlement" of legal immigrants and British citizens of foreign descent to "their lands of ethnic origin".

Currently, prison and police officers are banned from joining the BNP, as are Church of England clergy and staff.

And until recently, the party had enjoyed very limited electoral success.

It won its first local council seat in 1993, in a Millwall by-election, although the candidate lost it again to Labour the following year.

In the 1997 general election, the party fielded 57 candidates and saved three deposits, winning 35,000 votes. Four years later five of its 33 candidates retained their deposits.

Three BNP candidates gained seats on Burnley Council in 2002. Later that year, the party picked up another council seat in Blackburn.

By that time, Mr Tyndall had lost the leadership to Nick Griffin, a Cambridge-educated, former National Front organiser.

Under the new leader, the party tried to move away from its racist public image and present itself as a defender of the British way of life and protector of free speech, although Mr Griffin also has a conviction for inciting racial hatred.

Image caption Nick Griffin has said he would stand down as BNP leader in 2013

The party won 4.9% of the vote in the 2004 European election, and the following year 40 of the BNP's 119 general election candidates saved their deposits.

By the 2006 local elections, the BNP had doubled its councillor tally, as it began to capitalise on the disenchantment of white working class voters in a number of former Labour heartlands in England.

In 2008, the party's membership list was leaked onto the internet, including names, addresses and in some cases telephone numbers, and party members received abusive phone calls from anti-fascist campaigners.

It later emerged that a disgruntled former member was responsible for the leak.

The BNP's biggest electoral coup came in 2009 when it won 943,000 votes (6%) and gained two seats in the European Parliament elections - Mr Griffin for the North West region and Andrew Brons in Yorkshire and Humber, where he won 10% of the vote.

It gave the party a national platform for the first time and led to a storm of protests when Mr Griffin was invited on to the BBC's flagship political discussion programme Question Time.

Image caption The BNP's Scottish leader, Gary Raikes, said his key issue was "stopping immigration"

However, in the 2010 general and local elections the party failed to build on its 2006 breakthrough - of the 28 sitting councillors that stood for re-election, all but two lost.

Mr Griffin said afterwards that he would stand down as party leader in 2013.

In Scotland, the party has never managed to keep any of its deposits in elections.

It stood only one candidate in the 2003 Holyrood ballot; Peter Appleby, in Glasgow. He won 2,344 votes (1.1%).

At the next Scottish election, in 2007, the party competed in all regions, achieving 1.2% of the vote.

In this year's Scottish Parliament election it will field 32 candidates.

Gary Raikes, the party's Scottish leader, said his main campaigning issues were "stopping immigration and the Islamification of Britain".

The party advocates "firm but voluntary incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home" as well as the repeal of anti-discrimination legislation.