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BNP candidate trends on Twitter for her skin colour

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Although they occasionally make half-hearted attempts to deny it, much of the BNP's poisonous political stance seems to be based on the colour of a person's skin. How sweetly ironic then that the coverage of their candidate in the South Shields by-election should fall on her leathery complexion.

Dorothy Brooke, or, as she likes to style herself, Lady Dorothy MacBeth Brooke, appeared to have won a season ticket to a tanning salon and to have used a year's sessions in a week. Twinned with the platinum blonde hair, it was a fair attempt at looking like the kind of ageing Essex woman that supports the BNP policies.

In the age of Twitter, ridicule is swift and merciless and, as she was a BNP candidate, difficult to condemn. Brooke was swiftly trending on the social media site after her appearance at the count. "Has she just got out of the oven?" Teresa Sherwood asked. Neil Wilson cruelly observed that she bore a striking resemblance to WWF star The Ultimate Warrior.

Brooke could probably afford to be thick-skinned about the ridicule though. In the by-election the BNP polled 711 votes, which doesn't sound too impressive but was double the number polled by the Liberal Democrat candidate, who lost his deposit.

If the BNP remain the lunatic fringe of hard-right politics in the UK, The UK Independenece Party showed that they have moved right into the mainstream. Their candidate finished second in South Shields, but the party's most impressive showing came in local council elections where they picked up nearly 150 council seats and polled 25 percent of the total vote.

"This has been a remarkable result for us," UKIP leader Nigel Farage said. "This wave of protest certainly isn't short-term - it's lasting." He suggested that if a marginal by-election came up, his party would have every chance of winning it.

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