Ed Howker: Victory warns of BNP’s geographical spread

Share
Related Topics

The BNP’S victory in Swanley is a Klaxon blast alerting Britain to the growing geographical spread of the far right.

But it is the north of the country which represents the greatest danger of handing the BNP real political power. Although the party gained 11 seats in the borough of Barking and Dagenham in 2006 and has made significant advances in Havering and Bexley – beating Labour and polling around 20 per cent of the popular vote – the party’s success in the South-east remains fractured within London and very limited outside of it.

But that is not the case in the north. Owing to the proportional representation system used in this June’s European elections, the BNP requires between 7 and 9 per cent of the vote to win a seat for the national leader, Nick Griffin. And recently, the party has been deploying its limited resources around Cumbria in an attempt to broaden its base from its traditional Lancashire strongholds of Burnley, Blackburn and Oldham.

While the BNP platform, designed to use racial minorities as scapegoats for social problems, is disliked by most, voters from social groups C2, D and E repeatedly inform pollsters they feel lied to about immigration – an attitude the party can prey on to good effect in areas with large minority populations. In the West Midlands and Yorkshire, for example, party support averaged 14.1 and 14.5 per cent of the vote respectively in the wards it contested in last year’s local elections.

Typically, the party combines an active presence on the streets with campaigns which conflate local “wedge” issues – about which there is identifiable opposition – with the BNP’s agenda concerning race and immigration. Last November, the party distributed leaflets claiming, inaccurately, immigrants were responsible for the development of greenfield sites in South Lakeland, Cumbria. There are some signs this strategy, used across the region, is working. Examine the recent Kells and Sandwith ward by-election result in Whitehaven: having never fielded a candidate before, the party missed beating the Labour incumbent by 16 votes.

There are two reasons for believing these results will be improved upon later this year. Firstly, the electoral system translates disparate regional votes into a significant regional turnout. Secondly, the collapse of the United Kingdom Independence Party offers a chance for the BNP to sweep up support from people who use secondary elections to register a protest vote. Although politically dissimilar, the two parties are closely linked in the minds of right-wing voters.

If the BNP wins a seat in the European Parliament, it may result in a paradigm shift in its fortunes, giving it access to up to £250,000 in salaries, resources and office costs. But while the national party organisation remains riven with disagreement, it still seems unlikely it could launch a professional national platform.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A ceramic figure is the only thing remaining at the site of this destroyed home in Fredalba, California. The dry Santa Ana winds roll into Southern California from the upper Mojave Desert, setting off car alarms and starting wildfires  

Time for God to step in on climate change, Groucho Marx's answer to golf prejudice and education, the best method of birth control

Ellen E Jones
Residents of the Gravesham constituency are 10 times closer to what Peter Hain scorns as the “Westminster elite” than are those of Linlithgow and East Falkirk  

Will no one stop the march of localism?

Jonathan Meades
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam