I’m grateful to my old mucker Merrick for dropping by with his thoughts on the election. We’ve argued the toss about politics for well over 15 years now and I’m pleased that it looks like continuing until we are shouty old men.
I’m sure that Merrick is correct that, nationally. people avoided the Greens and Independents in many areas because they were voting tactically against the Conservatives.
But as Matt Sellwood (Green candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington) has pointed out, this doesn’t apply in Labour safe seats. Indeed it looks like large numbers of the electorate here were either not persuaded by the Greens, or irrationally voted for Labour because they wanted to send a strong message to the Tories (who stand ZERO chance of being elected here).
Whilst we can all take some comfort about the British National Party’s absence from Barking and Dagenham Council, I’m not at all convinced that this means they will now run off with their tails between their legs. My friend Glyn Rhys has dug into the numbers a little and come up with some rather more troubling conclusions.
Perhaps the most obvious of these is that the BNP now have 563,000 people prepared to vote for them. And that this support is despite an unprecedented campaign pointing out how horrible and “Nazi” the BNP is. Either these voters are fine with voting for alleged Nazis or they simply don’t believe it.
Merrick is correct to compare the current state of play with the National Front’s vote in the 1979 election. He is also right to say that there is probably a “ceiling” which far right (and far left, but that’s another sorry story) groups can reach in UK elections. Indeed, the main threat that far right parties pose is not seizing power and implementing their policies, but by acting as pressure groups on mainstream political parties.
The BNP now have double the votes the NF achieved and seem to be able to successfully spread out into new areas, which the NF failed to do. With electoral reform right at the top of the political agenda for the first time I can remember, those 563,00 votes may count for a great deal more next time around.
Parliament’s main priority in its next term will be to address the massive debt incurred whilst bailing out the banks. This means savage cuts, job losses and even harsher times for those at the sharp end. There are going to be a lot of pissed off people around looking for alternatives to whatever combination of Lib/Con/Lab ends up in charge. Call me cynical but I’m not sure that they’re all going to flock to the Green Party or the remnants of the left…