There is an interesting article from Hugh Muir in The Guardian today. In a piece entitled "Who opened the door to the BNP?" he says that in their pursuit of winnable seats, Labour and the Tories left a vacuum that the BNP has gladly filled with its county council seats in Lancashire, Leicestershire and a strong showing in Essex.
Saturday, 6 June 2009
The whole article is worth a read but this section in particular stood out for me when he addresses the question of why the vacuum is there:
But why was there a vacuum? Because Labour failed and, largely speaking, the Tories were no better. They too were chasing the middle class vote and the marginals and they were not about to worry themselves about areas they regarded as Labour fiefdoms, even those that had become failed states. They concentrated on the winnable seats. There is a logic to it. But the result of the decision by both parties to practise politics as the route to election victory rather as a tool for representing the broadest possible spread of communities left the door wide open for Griffin and his snake-oil salesmen.
Hugh is spot on here.. Our rotten electoral system allows one party fiefdom's to build up which are then neglected and allow parties like the BNP to sneak in by the back door.
Remember this the next time an opponent of electoral reform tries the old canard that a proportional system would let extreme parties in. As I have said time and again, Single Transferable Vote would make it almost impossible for the BNP to get in as voters can list their candidates in order of preference (and stop when they have put numbers against all they favour) so the BNP would not have any numbers next to them at all on most ballot papers. STV means candidates have to have broad support before they can get elected.