Voters may turn and face the strange at polls

The combination of the MPs' expenses scandal and the economic crisis could bring some bizarre results at next week's county and European Parliament elections.



Rarely have the fringe parties - usually regarded as no more than a gnat-bite on the face of British politics - found themselves in such a favourable position as they do today.

The three big parties are, all of them, at a dangerously low ebb in terms of public esteem, and whereas mid-parliamentary term elections invariably register a degree of hostility towards an unpopular Government, this time it looks as though Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat candidates may all share in a demonstration of odium.

Ministers and leading figures in other political parties are getting decidedly jittery about the prospects of the British National Party.

The latest was David Cameron who denounced them as "Nazi thugs" after a member of his audience at Leyland had told him that the talk in his JobCentre was to vote BNP since Eastern Europeans were taking British jobs.

This is the theme on which the BNP is basing its campaign and their mainstream political opponents are worried as to the effect this is having on the growing numbers of unemployed in Britain.

The BNP must be delighted at "the oxygen of publicity" - as Margaret Thatcher would have called it - which their enemies are providing them with.

Meanwhile, the BNP must have been no less elated by the public furore created over the possibility that their leader, Nick Griffin, might have attended the Royal Garden Party.

But the United Kingdom Independence Party also seems to be benefiting from the present state of the economy, of British politics, and of the increased loathing of the principal parties.

A private poll on behalf of UKIP puts them within "striking distance" of Labour - such a situation would have been unthinkable only a few months ago.

UKIP must also be grateful to the Tory peer Lord Tebbit - still a hugely influential figure in Conservative circles - for advising people not to vote for the mainstream parties next week, although he carefully did not specify how they should vote.

This drew a sharp rebuke from Mr Cameron.

There are signs, too, that voters are dissatisfied with the way that discredited MPs, who have said they will not be contesting the next general election, are being allowed by their party leaders to remain in Parliament until then and thus collect hefty "golden goodbye" pay-offs.

There is a growing feeling that these people should have been told to resign from Parliament there and then, and create by-elections.

Meanwhile the fears that the small parties may embarrass the big ones at the polls next week were exemplified by Ed Balls, the Schools Minister, who pleaded: "Whichever mainstream party the voters are going to vote for, they should go out and vote and not allow minority parties to gain."

For the first time in living memory, possibly, the principal party leaders seem to be more worried about the political minnows than they are about each other.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Planner

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - C#, ASP.Net, MVC, jQuery

£42000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking for a C# ...

Recruitment Genius: General Driver - Automotive

£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food