In the Madeley Ward by-election (Telford, Shropshire) last Thursday (22nd April 2004), Martin Coleman of the BNP polled 13 percent of the vote (188 votes), only eight points behind the Conservative candidate who came third with 21.5 percent.
The seat was won by Labour's Janice Jones with 29.1 percent of the vote, with an independent candidate coming second, taking 26.7. The UK Independence Party came last, gaining only 36 votes, taking 2.5 percent of the poll.
The shock BNP result comes as Searchlight is beginning house-to-house delivery of a free edition of its "European Election Special", urging people to vote for "a democratic political party and not a bunch of hatemongers".
Concerned that the BNP could win a Euro-MP at the forthcoming elections, "with a very small percentage of the total votes", Searchlight argues that it is "time to pull together once again to show the BNP that their bogoted views are not welcome here".
The problem is that, if the Madeley result is anything more than a straw in the wind, enough people are sufficiently in favour of BNP to award them a seat in the EU Parliament.
And with UKIP floundering in last place in a seat contested by the BNP, there are fears that BNP may erode the UKIP vote at the Euro-elections, when it expects to field a full slate of candidates.