Monday, 8 June 2009

The BNP

So, the British National Party won two seats in the European Parliament yesterday. Interesting. By the same token, UKIP picked up 13 seats and 16.6% of the national vote. Something to consider. Democracy is democracy though and the fact of the matter is that 6.2% of roughly 40% of British people voted for the British National Party on Thursday and by that token, Nick Griffin is now an elected official representing the North West Region of England. Interesting. This fascinating article on the Channel 4 website using YouGov polling statistics to build up a rough idea of why people chose to vote BNP furthers my interest still. While I've been accused of choosing to believe that we don't live in as intolerant a society as some may have you believe, there can be little doubt that every one of those 6.2% knew when they ticked that box marked BNP, who they were voting for and why. Nick Robinson said last night that the BNP and UKIP votes would naturally be inflated due to the perceived [and justified] underdog status of the two, especially considering the [expected] backlash against mainstream politics [which we probably saw more in the poor turnout than anything else] due to the expenses scandal.

There has been much debate as to where the 943,598 BNP voters came from and what their agenda may be. "Mainstream politics" has been blamed. But the Conservatives reserved an almost identical vote share as they did in 2005, as did the Liberal Democrats. The issue of Europe immigration has been cited as a reason for the sudden switch, but the party standing on the ticket of European immigration is UKIP who received almost three times as many votes. There's a very clear indication this morning that where the BNP succeeded, votes were transferred from the Labour Party, our current party of government. Which moves somewhat beyond being "Interesting". YouGov say...
"...perhaps the most startling finding came when we tested anecdotal reports that many BNP voters were old Labour sympathisers who felt that the party no longer speaks up for them. The BNP is constantly cited as a "Far right party" which is a convenient way of saying "Racist" but strangely their actual political beliefs [they have a manifesto, who knew?] is a quite Leftist one, calling for Nationalisation of just about every industry within Britain. As many as 59 per cent of BNP voters think that Labour "used to care about the concerns of people like me but doesn’t nowadays".
While I could go on about why somebody in Leeds would choose to act out against the government in this fashion, I don't think it would be right to pick-on the insecurities and frustrations of the "Real" people in this country who have very much, gone unnoticed under this "Big business" government that somehow has the cheek to call itself "Labour". No doubt there will be a shift in local constituencies to drum home the old Labour beliefs and a shallow attempt at painting The Conservatives as the capitalist, uncaring, Thatcherites of the 70s and 80s will more than likely, go ignored by a country who has not only had enough of this government, but let's be honest had enough of it the day after Tony Blair won the last election.

As for the BNP, I'm hopeful that the press they're currently receiving will react negatively for them, with the stay-at-home voters of this election taking to the ballot box next time around. I also hope that anybody who chose to vote BNP this time [without patronising them and belittling their right to an opinion, same as me] arrive at the next general election with a clearer idea of what's affecting them and people like them in this country. While it would be foolish to deny that Britain has an immigration problem [I live in London and have eyes], the problem is probably not that "they're taking all our jobs" or "they're all on crank and they eat babies" but that we currently do not have the resources in place to facilitate such a large influx of people who want to work, want to pay taxes and want to be a part of British society. Beyond that, post-2001 it can not be denied that the anti-Islamic sentiment among the nation at large has grown at a very rapid rate, a lack of understanding, a lack of communication and a lack of humanity is causing fear, suspicion and hatred to grow, perhaps manifesting itself in some pretty heinous acts. I don't know how to bridge the gap between Islam and Britain, there are Islamic MPs, there are Islamic MEPs, there is now a Muslim in the Cabinet for the first time. While commentators and hate mongers constantly site the "Muslim Council of Great Britain" and their failure to condemn acts of violence and hatred carried out in the name if Islam across the world, it shouldn't be that an unelected group can be viewed as the voice of such a large portion of British people [hint, hint, Gordon?] when what we're talking about is a religious group embodying people from so many countries, regions and continents who often share a god and not much more.

Yesterday's European Election results shouldn't surprise many. The BNP have been making inroads for the last few years and unless the political media start challenging the major parties on issues that British people clearly feel strongly about then they will continue to grow. All that being said, it's quite possible that the 900,000+ BNP voters saw this election for what it was, a complete joke [Gordon Brown scoffed on The Andrew Marr Show this Sunday about Britain's foolishness when he himself will do as he pleases in Europe to "Protect British Jobs" regardless of how we voted in the European Elections] and decided to cast the ultimate protest vote against a government that is well past its sell-by-date. It's not a coincidence that The BNP Picked up seats in traditional Labour heartlands.

While I attempt to consider the potential ramifications of a post-devolution Scotland being run from London by a government with little-to-no presence in the country, I'll leave you with this, Britain is; like the rest of Europe, standing at a crossroad, where we turn at the next general election will shape the next 50 years. I don't know what we need to do, but it's about time people started working out what politics can do for them, for their families, for their futures, because if we continue to leave it to the rest to make the decisions, we could well see extremist parties, religious parties and destructive parties gain more and more seats in local councils, Parliament and European Parliament. For now, this article on The Guardian website talks about Nick Griffin's relative treatment from the BBC this morning.

2 comments:

vocalexercise said...

This is a really insightful look at the results.

One other problem with immigration is that people are dying and worse getting here and once they are here. Open the borders. Make more resources available.

I completely agree about the links between Islamophobia and voting habits and also within society as a whole. Better education and media taking responsibility for how they represent needs to happen now.

xx

Marvin [The Martian] said...

I don't know about 'open the borders'. History has taught us that such actions on a major scale can cause serious problems socially and politically. Ultimately the problem lies, in this being a decision for politicians to make, the BNP vote from Thursday fundamentally disagrees with it. The 16% of UKIP voters fundamentally disagree with it. We can pick apart every vote cast and possibly [possibly] discover that immigration is not in the best interests of the British people on a very large scale. In a democracy, the decision to import people, give them citizenship and the right to vote could be seen as something very sinister indeed. There have already been accusations leveled at local councils in London for setting up mini-colonies for European Socialist communities to live in almost exclusively. When such decisions are taken so politically, you have to worry about the eventual backlash.

Being realistic.