Friday, 7 May 2010

Yesterday we voted

About 30 million of us voted and we seem to have given the Conservatives the largest share of the vote, over 10 million votes compared to Labour's 8 million, but not enough to gain an absolute majority. At this time it is not clear who will form the next government, although the Conservatives seem to be making overtures to the Lib Dems.

However it's not too soon to postmortem the BNP's performance. They got about half a million votes; they contested about half the constituencies. Nick Griffin, the most likely to get a Westminster seat, came third in Barking and Dagenham behind Labour and the Tories, pushing the Lib Dems into fourth place.

Barking results: click to enlarge

In 2005 the BNP candidate Richard Barnbrook more or less drew with the Conservatives. This time Nick Griffin has lost vote share as both the Conservatives and Labour have gained support. The incumbent Labour MP, the Egyptian immigrant Margaret Hodge, retained her seat.

This isn't a good showing and there are rumblings of discontent in the Nationalist community. The feeling is Nick Griffin shouldn't parachute himself into the best opportunity where ever it is in the country; he should take a more aloof, reserved position and let a local run as candidate. The BNP is the party of localism after all.

There is also some discontent at how Nick Griffin is running the Party. The website went off air yesterday, a very bad time for that to happen, and it is still effectively static. Apparently the BNP webmaster, Simon Bennett, had a parting of the ways with the Party in the days running up to the election. Losing vital staff at such a critical time, for whatever reason, shows poor management. As the team goes into bat it is essential to ensure that everyone is happy. This is by no means the first time senior staff have left unexpectedly. Mark Collette, head of publicity, recently left under a cloud with no explanation from the leadership.

Further the Party keeps getting embroiled in legal action (EHRC, Marmitegate) which cost money and spooks staff who are on the receiving end of writs.

They also need greater financial transparency. The accounts seem to be published late more often than not, and spending is not properly accounted for.

Nick Griffin's strengths are in the front-of-house of politics: oratory, debate and inspirational leadership. He's not so good at running a party. He has shed a lot of activists who have become disaffected. They need to be brought back into the nationalist tent. What the BNP really needs is a star Chief of Staff; someone behind the scenes who makes sure all the i's are dotted and t's crossed; someone who makes sure the accounts are transparent and comprehensive and submitted to the Electoral Commission on time; someone who can actually say "No" to the leader and make it stick.

The BNP is also hampered by the presence of other parties with very similar ideologies, notably UKIP, but also the Christian Party and the English Democrats. Certainly UKIP and the EDs could be subsumed into the BNP with very little difficulty as they agree on the major policy items of an English parliament and withdrawal from the European Union political project.

Indeed it seems that most grassroot UKIP members are merely would-be BNP members who haven't quite plucked up the nerve to join the BNP yet.

There needs to be some sort of accommodation with these parties. They should not be running candidates against each other. That's just foolish.

Coming back to the election, although the BNP showing wasn't brilliant, there is some encouragement to be found in the results. The BNP share of the vote grew by 1.2%, behind the Conservative growth of 3.8%, but ahead of all the other parties. (There's no denying the Conservatives have really had a barnstorming result. It's only the absurdity of the way the constituency boundaries are drawn which has stopped them from romping home. If Labour had had that share of the vote they would have a 100 MP majority!)

So, as was said in the previous post, we shouldn't be too upset at the lack of a BNP MP in Westminster. What we want is solid and continual growth in BNP support, and that's what we have.

BBC election results

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