I figured this belonged in IMHO, as I am not sufficiently *au fait * with English local politics to have a Great Debate! . And it could be seen as of more pressing concern to English Dopers in particular. So, how bad is the fact that the BNP has now won 2 council seats in Burnley? A localised protest vote, or a sign or worse things to come?
Well, especially after Le Pen doing “well” in France, I don’t like the look of it. Do others think this is a serious threat, or a bit of a one-off? I’d be concerned anyway - but as I live in an area of very high immigration of refugees, I especially don’t want the BNP getting any form of power, or following or support.
No, I don’t think it’s a serious threat. When the BNP took their last seat they were kicked out straight away.
They’ve very carefully targeted poorer areas that suffer from having ethnic clashes – both Burnley and Oldham suffered “race riots” last summer and the BNP have been leeching off the bad feeling in those areas. They’ve failed to make an impression absolutely everywhere else.
Localised protest vote, in short. Embarrassing, and a sign that action must be taken to address the problems in those areas, but not an omen of things to come.
How funny, Yojimbo! I came back to the SDMB window having only just clicked on the “Monkey” story on the BBC site, and to give it time to load. Well, nice that they have given up hanging monkeys as spies in Hartlepool!
I saw a stat on C4’s breakfast TV show this morning that put it into perspective for me. If the BNP had won seats in proportion to the column inches they’ve been given they would have won 530 seats nationally not 2.
I’m sure Crusoe’s right here, the last winning BNP candidate was ditched as soon as possible afterwards and there’s no reason to suppose that this pair will last any longer. It should be seen as a wake up call for social problems in Burnley not a growing trend, and a local councillor (Asian but I can’t remember his name just now) has been quoted as saying that it was just a protest vote and that most of the people who voted BNP aren’t racists and don’t really support them. I hope that’s right.
I gather that the Hartlepool monkey isn’t a total joke candidate either. The “free bananas” policy was just his comical way of phrasing the idea that more should be done for local kids generally.
Good point. I was half of the opinion that their odious slug of a leader was long overdue a BBQ Pit thread, especially after reading his latest statements and policies. (Aims for candidates in Scottish elections, policy of “negotiated” return to all-white Britain.) But I don’t know now. Are they best ignored?
By any measure except media coverage, the more important story was the five Kidderminster Hospital Health Concern candidates who won their seats and gained control of Wyre Forest District Council. That really is a local single-issue party whose views resonate with the national electorate.
As for the BNP, their calculation was obviously that targeting a small number of seats (which, admittedly, do have major racial tensions) would produce grossly disproportionate media coverage. It was that media coverage, not the seats themselves, they wanted. The most worrying thing about the result is that the media fell for it. The BNP was a lazy news angle on an otherwise not-very-interesting set of elections.
First, I’m sorry I mistyped “Burnley” in the title - it was posted at a very sleepy time of night/morning.
Now, I think those mentioning the media’s contribution to this are making a very valid point, which is good and bad at the same time, as we can’t really prevent the media from doing its usual thing. So I’m glad it is a localised “protest” vote, but, all the same, people would have to be pretty vile to consider the B.N.P. as a reasonable “protest” vote. Still not sure what to make of it, really.
Well, if the sods do field candidates in Scotland next year, I rather expect my area will be one that they target, as I live in the Sighthill area of Glasgow, which you may or may not have heard of) so I can only hope if they do stand they get laughed out of town.
I ought to correct my earlier factual error - when I left for work this morning the BNP had taken 2 seats, but have added a third during the day on a re-count.
However, it has also transpired that they didn’t even come top of the poll in any of the wards where their candidates stood. Due to electoral boundary changes some candidates who finished second were also elected (can’t find a link to verify that yet - I’m quoting Channel 4 News).
I certainly don’t think the BNP should be ignored, but I expect that the amount of media coverage will encourage some closer attention to social problems in Burnley and will also shame some of the voters there to realise what a mistake they’ve made.
More about the story can be read here and there are links from there to see how people voted in your area.
Mr Clarke seems to have made a prick of himself there doesn’t he? It’s perhaps worth adding that the concept of directly-elected mayors, as opposed to politicians generally, is a relatively new concept here so is bound to be reviewed from time to time before it really catches on. It’s also true that politicians often make some stupid comments immediately after surprise results while they’re struggling for an excuse.
I haven’t read all the replies yet but having lived most of my life very near to burnley (in Hyndburn, the very next borough) I feel like answering.
I will just say what they’ve said on the news - it will repell businesses from Burnley.
It will give the stupid white people all over the troubled area (Blackburn, Hyndburn Burnley etc…) a reason to do racist things.
It will give the stupid asian people all over the troubled area a reason to do racist things.
Coming from the area I can vouch for the stupidity and utter ignorance of youth in the whole area regardless of their race.
I am glad I moved because I just know my closest friends back there would be saying such things that would have my humouring mechanism working overtime.
Students have a habit of voting for peculiar candidates in their own elections - some of them are intended to be taken seriously (Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi), some are their idea of comedy (a stuffed polar bear, a topless model, a sports personality). I’ll leave you to draw you own conclusions about which category Jerry Springer belongs in.
Now, if he’d ever been elected as mayor of a real city, like, I dunno, Cincinnati f’rinstance, that would be crazy.
I can’t believe you moved to the Isle of Man to escape reactionary politics
My own experience of East Lancashire has mainly been through football trips to Turf Moor, so I wouldn’t want to use those as a litmus test of local character. I’ll accept your first-hand knowledge as expertise though.
There seems to be a consensus in the national press that, although the BNP “success” is to be taken seriously, it should be kept in perspective. I’m taking an optimistic view that this will act as a purgative for social problems that exist in Burnley and will galvanise general opposition to the far right in this country. Let’s not overlook the vast contrast between the significant right-wing successes in various continental countries with the experience in England last week. Three seats out of 6000+ is not a major swing of opinion.
Having said that, the Anti-Nazi League have remarked that there was a big increase in racist activity on the Isle of Dogs when a BNP candidate was elected there in 1993. All the more reason to organise against them while this issue is still fresh.
One last point I’d like to mention is that the BNP were unable/unwilling to make any statement of intention or quote even a single policy when interviewed in Burnley on Thursday and Friday. This suggests that they didn’t expect to win any seats ans were only standing to stir up trouble. I also hope that the people who voted for them will be sorry when they see what they’ve really voted for.
I agree, this is an important point, and there has been some comment on it, but not all celebratory…
This from today’s Times:
INDEPENDENTS took control of two councils and deprived Labour of its majority on a third, after fielding a record number of candidates.
The affluent commuter district of Elmbridge in Surrey was the unlikely setting for a radical breakthrough when a coalition of residents’ associations took control of the borough. Independent councillors, who were already the largest grouping on the council, picked up three additional seats giving them 31 out of a total of 60.
(In Kidderminster), a single-issue group known as Health Concern who championed better emergency healthcare, took control of Wyre Forest district council in Worcestershire.
Health Concern gained five seats, giving it 21 of the 42 seats on the council. As one seat is vacant this gives the party majority control. The Conservatives have just six seats, while Labour has five and the Liberal Democrats two.
In Stoke-on-Trent, the Independent Reform Group gained seven seats, giving it a total of 22 out of 60, removing the council from Labour control to no overall control. Five years ago Labour won all 60 seats. Now it has just 21.
But from The Guardian:
The success of non-aligned groups in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, and Elmbridge, Surrey, focused attention on the independent presence in English local government.
In fact, it was a bad night overall for candidates declaring themselves to be independent of the big parties.
Self-classified independents suffered a net loss of about 80 seats to give a total of some 138. Other non-mainstream parties did poorly, with the Greens having a net loss of four seats, although they made gains in Leeds and Bradford.
“Others” enjoyed mixed fortunes ending up with about 23 seats. Their ranks included the former Militant MP Dave Nellist, returned as Socialist Alliance candidate for the St Michael’s ward in Coventry.
The one thing they all agree on is that innovatory voting methods (electronic, postal etc. for non-UK readers) increased the overall turnout.
By the way, **lobley**, I should have added that the Conservatives lost Hyndburn to Labour.
Charles Clark’s reactive comment was, I’m sure, made in the immediate aftermath of the vote – the late-night teevee thing. By the morning the Party line was very different and the local MP (Peter Mandelson) was characterising the Monkey as a fine leader. A fine leader of what remains unclear.
On the wider issue, I can’t see the election of the BNP candidates as anything more than a transient protest vote – very little to do with the BNP’s policies and very much to do with the perceptions/reality of local and national Labour Party policies. Also, perceptions of immigration policy probably fuelled the fire, IMHO.
After listening to the local voters on the teevee, it seems many in those area’s feel the balance in how resources are spent is disproportionate. One assumes it’s a perception the BNP are more than keen to foster amongst an electorate probably unwilling (at this point) to look beyond simplistic rhetoric.
For me, the biggest issue has to be the polarisation of local communities based on schooling and residence – if people are poor and resources limited, they tend to look for easy targets for their woes and, as I understand it, the extremes are far greater oop North (95% Asian or white) than anything around these parts.
IMHO, the election of these people is an emotive, rather than a rational response, based upon perceived social injustice and frustration. It’s also a wake-up call. Labour has to address the ignorance with better communication and transparency in local Government, as well as confront the crucial issues of polarised schooling and residence (which currently encourage ‘ghetoisation’ and ignorance).
I think it’s time for something on the scale of the (post-Brixton riots) Scarman Enquiry.
That said, I tend to think it was a notable election for the reasons stated – the re-emergence of local issues in local Government. That seems to suggest the electorate may have responded to Mayoral democratic form. If so, that has to be healthy. Not quite so keen on single issue politics, though, and the distinction between ‘local’ and ‘single’ is an important one, IMHO.