@Mark61 - Re: BNP in police etc
Is there any chance you can direct us to a link specifying that. I've never heard that it was a complete ban on political parties (of course that doesn't mean it exists).
A quick google on the topic only appears to give results on the BNP being banned and not all political parties.
Actually, I found this article in the Independent (albeit in 2003):
"At the moment, there is no automatic ban on political activists joining the force, but applicants must declare any political party membership prior to recruitment. In addition, officers are barred from taking an active role in politics or "any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his or her duties, or which is likely to give rise to the impression among members of the public that it may so interfere". "
I loathe to say this, but if somebody harbours racist tendencies in private but can be completely impartial in their job (I know it's unlikely), then the employer should be none the wiser, and the "active role in politics" clause has no purpose. It's when the line between work and private life is blurred that problems start to happen, and then the employee in question is no longer capable of executing their job.