"Labour 51 BNP 0" Shouted the Guardian after the recent elections, as the BNP failed to return a single candidate who stood.
Many felt this was the beginning of the end for the BNP, but how true was this? "The stark facts are these.
Nationally, the Green Party's share of the vote actually went down 0.1% to 1%. In terms of vote share, the BNP (1.9%) and UKIP (3.1%) both did better than the Greens. Nearly twice as many voted BNP as did Green, while three times more people backed UKIP. The BNP almost tripled its support compared to 2005, while UKIP received around half as many votes again as last time."
In total the BNP won 563,743 votes
, which is a massive improvement over 2005. Even taking into account the increase in candidates standing, the voters per candidate figure went up from 1647 to 1663.
So (please correct me if I am wrong on this) does this mean that if we had proportianal representation, the BNP would have 3 times the MP's as the Green Party? This would depend on how much of the vote share a party would need to have an MP elected, but still it is a somewhat sobering thought.
And although they lost out in terms of overall MP's and even in terms of deposits retained, I agree with someones comment elsewhere, which said:
"The BNP were building in places for the future local elections. If seats were targeted for percent gains, then only 200 would have been contested.
The North East fielded two candidates in 2001, up to nine in 2005 not retaining a single deposit.
Then a full-slate of 29 in 2010 retaining 10 deposits."
So what helped Labour win in Barking? Well, they held the local elections on the same day as the national elections, which meant it was easier for Labour to get its message out. Also, the worry about a hung parliament meant a higher voter turnout. Further, Labour has more resources which to throw at the problem, so for e.g. it hired Blue State Digital (BSD)
, which used the latest internet technology to mobilise millions of people behind Obama in the US elections to help them get their message out.
Interestingly, This Londonist article
talks about all the smaller parties doing badly across london. Just what is going on here, when we have supposedly lost interest and become disillusioned with the main political parties (those who are sometimes referred to as the "political elite").
And who did Labour stand as a Candidate in Barking? Margaret Hodge
. If you want to argue that those who vote BNP are too stupid to understand the nuances of socio-political life, or are lacking in political knowledge, this just shows how deep that lack of knowledge runs: through all sections of Barking society.
So I ask, what can be done to help stem the rising tide of the far right in the UK?