New book tells the inside story on Burnley disturbances and rise and fall of the BNP

A new book telling ‘the inside story’ on a tumultuous period in Burnley's history - the 'Disturbances' of 2001 and the election of BNP councillors - is set to be published.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 3:45 pm

Written by Mike Waite, who worked as a council manager on community cohesion and the Elevate housing programme, 'On Burnley Road' covers class, race and politics in a northern English town since the mid-1990s.

It includes a summary of the 2001 disturbances, accounts of the council’s work to improve race relations, and details of the ‘good relations’ meetings which were organised by mediators from Belfast when far-right election gains had caused controversy for the town.

On Burnley Road argues that many issues first seen in the town 20 years ago have since become more widespread in English politics, including "antipathy to immigration and to Europe" and "the ongoing distrust of politicians and our democratic process".

Burnley Town Hall

Mr Waite recalled: "Back in the early 2000s, some condescending national politicians, civil servants and commentators treated Burnley as an exception, seeing it as a strange place with backward ways. This was wrong. In fact, the place was simply offering a sign of things yet to come."

Mr Waite is now a member of the Labour Party, and says that the book takes a left-of-centre perspective, without following a simple party line.

"It includes critical assessments of some of the actions taken by Labour governments; positive points about some responses to developments in Burnley by Lib Dems and Conservatives; and considers why right-wing and nationalist arguments have become attractive to so many people."

The book will be out on May 1st. It can be ordered from the publishers at www.lwbooks.co.uk and from many online bookshops including W H Smiths and Waterstones.