Courting the BNP

April 3, 2008 at 11:06 am | Posted in British Politics | 1 Comment
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In what’s become an extremely close Mayoral race, I can’t imagine the BNP’s semi-endorsement of Boris Johnson will do him any favours. You probably won’t see me writing this very often, but whilst I’m sure it was the politically expedient thing to do in condemning the party, its leaders and supporters, I find myself in the strange situation of agreeing with the conservative Donal Blaney that it’s not necessarily the right thing to do. Here’s how Johnson responded to the news:

“I utterly and unreservedly condemn the BNP and have no desire whatsoever to receive a single second-preference vote from a BNP supporter,” he said. “I hope as many Londoners as possible turn out on May 1 to prevent the election of a BNP candidate.” (emphasis mine)

And here’s Blaney‘s take:

I cannot help but feel that mainstream politicians make a huge mistake by demonizing the BNP in this way. The Labour MPs for Barking & Dagenham made this mistake last year. By demonizing the BNP, this party of thugs and misfits is given credibility in the eyes of those who feel victimized by capitalism, immigration and society generally. It would be far better if the mainstream parties pre-empted the BNP and addressed the concerns of their supporters where such concerns can sensibly be addressed.

Absolutely correct. If the BNP break the 5% ceiling to win a seat on the London assembly, it’s won’t be down to the die-hard party loyalists or the skinheads with swastika knuckles; the party’s membership & electoral base is too small to win a seat by those means alone. No, if we see a BNP counsellor on the London Assembly it will come from the votes of predominantly working class people who endure higher rates of crime, poverty and unemployment, who live at the sharp end of our multicultural experiment and who, without any real effort by the major parties to make them think otherwise , have been hoodwinked by the BNP into believing their problems are the fault of foreigners.

If voters are tempted by the BNP because they don’t believe the main parties address their concerns, they’re hardly going to change their minds in response to scaremongering and accusations of racism. So instead of high-pitched condemnation, perhaps what Johnson (and the other candidates) should’ve done was go to Barking & Dagenham, listen to the voters’ concerns and detail plainly and simply why he has the policies and the ability to change their city for the better. He shouldn’t be shunning their second-choice vote; he should be campaigning to be their first choice.

Our politicians aren’t above that, are they?

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  1. […] quizzes for Livingstone! 06Apr08 Aside from an earlier musing on the BNP’s second-choice endorsement of Boris Johnson, the reason I haven’t posted anything more substantial on […]

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