Friday, 7 May 2010

The election just got real .....

I work in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and, in my trade union role, have contact with  officers of that Borough's Childrens Services department. Had the BNP taken control of the Council at the local elections yesterday, those relationships would have been very seriously affected - all of us would have found it extremely difficult.

Instead, it is an understatement to say that the BNP were totally and utterly routed: here and here. They now have not one single councillor in Barking and Dagenham (previously they had 12, and formed the opposition) and were quite thoroughly trounced in the parliamentary election for Barking. Whether the fact that there are 51 councillors all from the Labour Party is a totally good thing - some sort of critical voice is, I think, good for accountability - we shall see in the coming years. But, as Margaret Hodge said, there is a clear message that the BNP should pack their bags and leave.

In so far as I can tell exactly where it happend, this incident happened within a mile or so of the school I teach in and perhaps the same distance from the building in which I was taking part in a meeting shortly afterwards. Pupils at school had seen it on Youtube the same evening, and were talking about it the next morning. Within the 48 hours before the election I had related to me the quite objectionable approach taken to a colleague by a BNP canvasser on her doorstep, an approach which clearly assumed that they shared the thoroughly racist attitude of the canvasser; and another account of a colleague who had stopped attending the area meetings with councillors because of the hostile and unpleasant attitudes of the two BNP councillors in the ward.

I know that some have been working very hard over the last year or so to campaign against the presence of the BNP in Barking and Dagenham. The nastiness indicated in the video of the incident linked to above has been an undercurrent of all that campaigning. I am not sure of the electoral tactics being used, but they do seem to have worked.

Two thoughts: If people turn out to vote in numbers, the BNP have a much smaller chance of success, and this can be seen in the patterns of votes cast at ward level in the council elections. And it is quite possible that those people who did vote were able to see the BNP for what they were in a way that had not happened previously, and, when they did see that, they were not interested. The two experiences referred to above clearly showed the BNP for what they are.

As I say, the election got very real. ..


madame evangelista said...

In my own consituency, 6.7% of the vote went to the BNP (who did not have a candidate standing in the 2005 election). There was also a large swing to the Tories (although there was no way they would win in our labour heartland), and I know that many of those votes will have been cast by people who, although they haven't voted for them, think that 'the BNP have a point'. Some of them are catholic, which is what really distresses me.

So I'm really happy about the Barking & Dagenham result!

Joe said...

14.6% of the vote in Barking's parliamentary election went to the BNP - 54.3% to Labour. BNP's proportion of the vote dropped compared to 2005.

What I had related to me about the "on the ground" experience of BNP campaigning in Barking and Dagenham really does remove any legitimacy to the idea that "the BNP have a point".