Like many others this morning I am sickened by the fact that the BNP has won two seats in the European parliament following the count overnight. I had to endure the sight of fascists being interviewed on TV knowing they now have a 5 year elected platform from which to espouse their hate as well as all the funding that comes from the result.
Monday, 8 June 2009
I have already seen that William Hague has been on the radio this morning trying to argue that Proportional Representation is to blame for the result.
I completely reject that argument. The BNP has got in in Yorkshire and the North West because of a combination of disgust in general with the political classes and especially Labour. They got almost 10% of the vote in Yorkshire and 8% in the North West. The unpalatable fact is that a lot of people in those regions were willing to vote for them.
But the biggest argument against blaming the electoral system is that it is precisely the First Past the Post system used at Westminster that has contributed so much to this problem in the first place. Voters feel disengaged from politics and great swathes of the North West and Yorkshire are safe seats where there is usually little campaigning from any of the major parties as they instead focus their energies on marginal constituencies. This lack of political activity and engagement creates a vacuum that parties like the BNP can then move into. If we had a fairer electoral system for Westminster, these politically bereft areas would have much stronger campaigning machines on the ground from the major parties and the BNP would have been unlikely to get any MEPs as a result. I have heard anecdotal evidence that in some areas, the only leaflets people received were from the BNP. This is a shocking indictment of the lack of campaigning capacity of the bigger parties and is a direct result of the broken electoral system we use in our country for Westminster elections.
So if anything last night's results are an argument for wholesale reform of our electoral systems used in all elections.