The election of any far-right party candidate is a worrying event. But we are not sure it’s as bad as the immediate reaction in the press makes out for the following reasons:
1. The BNP polled less votes in the Yorkshire/Humber and North West regions in 2009 that in 2005. They only gained seats because so many Labour voters stayed at home. This wasn’t a big rush towards the far-right.
2. The BNP got 6% nationally on a low 34% turnout. That’s only about 2% of the population.
3. The BNP did a good job of re-spinning their image in some areas and jumping on the anti-establishment bandwagon. They still only got 6%. The media and other parties will be wiser now. Not all of those who voted for the BNP will have realised what they stand for and might not share all their racist views.
4.We don’t think there is such a big surge in racist views as it might seem. There have been people with different opinions all along. A minority of people hold different levels of views that could be regarded as racist. Our media and politicians are ultra-aware of not being seen as racist and so tolerant people might not be aware of the opinions of some people. All that has happened is the views are now visible in the form of votes.
Here’s the result for North West
1. Conservative 423,174 25.6
2. Labour 336,831 20.4
3. UK Independence Party 261,740 15.8
4. Liberal Democrats 235,639 14.3
5. British National Party 132,094 8.0
6. Green Party 127,133 7.7
7. English Democrat 40,027 2.4
8. Socialist Labour Party 26,224 1.6
9. Christian Party-Christian Peoples Alliance 25,999 1.6
10. No2EU 23,580 1.4
11. Jury Team 8,783 0.5
12. Libertas 6,980 0.4
13. Independent – Francis Apaloo 3,621 0.2
We assume this means that if the Greens had got 5000 more votes they’d have got the 8th seat. No2EU got nearly five times that amount, so if they hadn’t stood and only 5000 of those who voted for them had voted for the Greens, then Griffin wouldn’t have been elected. .
That this might happen was pointed out before the election. Which shows that stopping the BNP getting an MEP wasn’t, as they claimed, the No2EU’s top priority. But while the Greens can complain about No2EU they can’t really complain about the result because they support and benefit from PR.
What worries us more is some of the areas where the BNP got their seats from. Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham all polled around 17% for the BNP. underclassrising along with others actually predicted that South Yorkshire might be good ground for the BNP last week. There has been a steady flow of stories in the region about immigration and asylum seekers over the last few years. We was certainly aware of a small but visible vein of racist views in the area when I grew up there. We have yet to live in an area where these views can be so widely and openly expressed. It might not have aggressive intent, but it is there and acknowledged by many people.
These are areas that have struggled to recover from the demise of the traditional industries and that have a lot of social deprivation. Neither The Conservative nor The Labour Governments The Far, Left Greens, and Anarchist have effectively addressed the problems of these and similar areas. We have seen the BNP target these kind of areas before with some success. Areas that have high unemployment and whose local councils struggle to meet the needs of local people. Political parties tend to compete for the support of Middle Class voters in more marginal constituencies. They do this because the Middle Classes tend to vote more often and are more likely to change their vote. Labour have been frequently accused of taking the votes of the working class electors for granted, especially in the traditional rock-solid safe Labour seats. Whether this is the case or not is a different matter. They certainly seem to direct all their spin and presentation on charming the middle classes.
It’s easy to see why people in poorer areas can become resentful to the perceived side-lining of their problems. The scenes of the ruling classes filling their pockets in the expenses scandal cannot have helped. This is where the BNP come in, playing on anger and fear by providing a scapegoat – non-whites. There may well be imbalances in temporary immigrations for some jobs, but studies have shown that it is not ethnic minorities that are making things worse for working class whites – the working classes suffer from discrimination as a group because of their class. Working class children find it harder to get into universities and generations of exclusion can create different expectations.The BNP creates myths that people in ethnic minorities are looked after better than whites that just aren’t true.
This paper suggests it is high numbers of working people in deprived areas in Barnsley who ‘aren’t getting the jobs’. The shop girl, white obviously, ‘got a job’, in a shop? The question is not globalisation or not. The question is whose definition of globalisation. What we mean by globalisation or what George Bush means.
But yes, the end of nation states. The free movement of people. we think it is the trend of history and inevitable. individual becomes family becomes village becomes town becomes province becomes country becomes world. Conversely we think there is something ugly about attempts to close borders, (no borders) carve up nations, restrict movement of people. Such trends are always ugly and always tied up with racism.
There’s all of the predictable hand wringing on this thread about why the BNP (and UKIP too – just gotta love the way some of you folks lump them together) did so well. There’s a continuing failure to understand why people are voting BNP (and if you’re going to write off the majority of UKIP voters as BNP elite, well you’re even more the architect of your own ignorant downfall). Many of you it seems don’t even seem to *want* to understand.
We imagine many of you who preached holier than thou fire and brimstone in the lead up to the elections actually encouraged a number of people to actually vote BNP simply because you told them not to, instead of engaging coming to terms and understanding how you The Main Stream Politicians Left Wing Greens Anarchist have failed them, how dose it feel?.
Rallies, marches, direct action against the BNP blah blah blah. Where are the rallies, marches, direct action against the criminal scum, drug dealers who terrorise many of the estates where the BNP might have scored many of their votes? Help with real problems? Suggestions that aren’t stuck in the eighteenth century? Helping people to protect them and theirs?
Nowhere to be seen. Many votes for the BNP and UKIP were cast out of frustration from people who feel that no-one is listening – its clear most of you certainly aren’t. Now sit up at the table and eat the shit sandwich – its what you fucking ordered.