Who is responsible for the rise of the BNP?
Following the firey debut on Question Time of Nick Griffin and the subsequent poll spike quite a debate has emerged on who exactly is to blame for the rising support levels for the British National Party? Iain Dale lays the blame squarely at the door of the Labour Party citing the list of natural Labour Party strongholds that the BNP are strong in although his stance is somewhat predictable for a Conservative blogger it is a commonly held one. Iain however makes a rather overblown claim;
I don’t know if any academic work has been done in this area, but as a guess, I’d say that 80% of BNP voters are ex-Labour voters. That may not always have been the case, but I’d bet a Pound to a penny it is now.
Meanwhile, Peter Ould over on Political Betting blows Iain out of the water;
Of the 132 men and women who said they were going to vote BNP, a staggering 65% didn’t vote for one of the big three parties last time – most of those are very likely not to have voted at all. This means that well over half of BNP voters are not disaffected Labour voters, but rather simply aren’t normally voters at all. Of the remaining 35%, the split is 10% Conservative, 20% Labour and 5% Lib Dem.
Far from BNP voters being similar to Labour voters and drawn from the same demographic sectors, the data shows that BNP voters are much more likely to be C2DE than any of the three main parties.
Arguably, however, if Labour tried to address what should traditionally be it’s core constituency these people still should be inspired by it. However, they obviously are not, they truly are disaffected and atomised; isolated from all the main political parties. Given that it is perhaps not surprising the BNP have parasitically been able to insinuate themselves in these communities. These are precisely the types of communities; despite Chris Huhne’s boasts about Burnley that still present the Liberal Democrats with the toughest challenges. If we are serious about being the ‘progressive party’ then they are ones we need to reach out to represent; when we do we will probably find ourselves up against the BNP trying to bring people into politics around a different message.