05 May 2006

What rough beast...

Four days ago, I said in passing that the BNP had "thankfully no parliamentary representation as yet but a few seats in local government".

Yesterday, parts of the UK held local elections. In some ways, there were no surprises. The governing party (Labour) lost some ground (as governing parties always do), but didn't melt down as many had predicted and I thought possible. The largest opposition party (Conservative) gained some ground, as large opposition parties always do, but managed to make no headway in the key metropolitan areas. The third largest party won some and lost some, its representation ending up broadly unchanged over all, which was mildly surprising but not earth shattering. The BNP gained 24 seats, 11 of them in a single area (Dagenham).

Hang on a minute ... that last sentence, about the BNP, is easy to miss. It doesn't sound much: gained 24 seats. After all, the total number of seats is 22000. But: two days ago the BNP held only 20 seats across the whole of Britain, now it holds 44, which is a 120% increase. And in Dagenham it is now the second largest party, dominating the opposition

Past experience suggests that BNP support waxes and wanes, and this peak way well crumble away again. But it shows that a lot of people out there hold views which can, on occasion, be converted into BNP votes. It's that tidal reserve of racist bigotry that worries me.

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