Monday, 8 June 2009

More people voted for Diversity than BNP

The BNP may well be celebrating winning the two seats it narrowly missed out on in 2004, with a small increase in its share of vote - although in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber its number of votes actually fell.

But in the East of England, there was no sign of any breakthrough. The BNP secured an unimpressive 1.7 percentage point rise in its vote, which was the equivalent of less than a third of the drop in Labour support. By far the biggest winners of the electoral backlash against the mainstream were the Greens, who increased their share of the vote by nearly twice the level achieved by the BNP, taking well over half of the share of disillusioned Labour and Liberal Democrat voters. UKIP held its own and the Conservatives reported a modest rise in their already dominant position.

Of the 4.2 million people eligible to vote in the East of England, just over 2% bothered to come out and put their cross by the BNP in an election that had a turnout of under 38%. Nick Griffin had put the average BNP vote at 9.8% in the European constituency, but his party's share of the vote was more than a third less than his prediction. Far from heralding the dawn of a new era of white supremacy, the elections demonstrated that the BNP remains a fringe party with little active support among the wider population.

And here is a fact the BNP will find hard to swallow: The mixed-race street dance act Diversity won over one million votes in Britain's Got Talent just days before the election, while the BNP won just under 944,000 votes!

At a local level, in Epping Forest, the BNP poll 10% of the total vote, which was well above the national average. But there were signs that the BNP's vote is faltering. Compared to the district council elections held last year, the BNP's proportion of the vote has diminished, particularly in Loughton Central. This should worry the BNP, although they will not say this publicly. The BNP lost both its district seats in the Loughton Central division in 2008 amid a surge in support for the Loughton Residents Association. With the LRA strengthening its voter further in 2009 at the BNP's expense, Rod Law and Peter Turpin are likely to see their political careers some to an end next May with the LRA taking their seats.

At the same time, BNP election supremo Eddy Butler was unable to push the vote up in Broadway as the Labour vote actually held up and maintained its second place ranking. Having leafletted Broadway and taken up a number of local issues there, the LRA looks set to move onto the BNP's Broadway territory and deal it a major blow next year. With the district elections likely to be held concurrently with a general election, the BNP could see their group reduced to one single councillor - Pat Richardson.

While there was a significant rise in BNP support in the Waltham Abbey and North Weald divisions - mainly due to the LibDem's failure to put up a serious fight - it is unlikely that they will have a chance to break Conservative dominance. The Waltham Abbey Honey Lane district by-election demonstrated the impossible task of winning a seat outside Debden. Despite a decline in their vote, the Conservatives still secured twice the BNP's vote and the BNP could not even achieve the share of vote they received in the 2007 by-election in the ward, when they came within a whisker of winning the seat.

In short, the BNP is facing a wipe-out in Epping Forest.

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