UK: BNP wouldn't be an issue if the main parties were not stuck on being politically correct and ignoring the majority of people.
The far-right British National Party could be heading for an electoral breakthrough in next month's local elections, according to a new opinion poll.
Among people intending to turn out to vote in the party's key target area of Barking and Dagenham, some 45.5% of those questioned for the Sunday Mirror said they would cast their ballot for the BNP.
The poll put the BNP ahead of Labour, on 36.3%, the Tories (12.7%) and the Liberal Democrats (4.5%) in the east London borough.
If the survey result is reflected in voting on May 4, it could see many of the 13 candidates fielded by the BNP winning seats on the council and would probably make the party the official opposition to Labour.
The survey comes a week after Barking's Labour MP Margaret Hodge warned that eight out of 10 voters she spoke to were tempted to switch to the BNP because of local concerns over housing and immigration.
And it comes ahead of a report from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust expected to suggest that up to one in four voters across Britain would be willing to consider voting BNP.|
Yougov pollster spells it out
|However, could the present surge in BNP support prove to be more lasting? According to YouGov's latest survey for the Daily Telegraph BNP support now stands at 7 per cent. Almost one elector in four says they have seriously considered voting BNP in the past or would do so now.
Part of this surge is a response to last week's publicity about the BNP. But YouGov polls suggest there is a fundamental range of concerns that the BNP is able to tap. It is not, in the main, crude racism. The proportion of Britons offended by the notion of Asian newsagents and black footballers is no more than 5 per cent.
There is, though, a deeper set of cultural fears. Of all the BNP's messages, the one that has the greatest resonance is that Britain these days 'almost seems like a foreign country'. This is caused by a combination of insecurity, nostalgia for an idealised past, the collapse of traditional class and party allegiances, and immigration of all types (a generalised fear of outsiders rather than an objection to skin colour).
When the tinder of local social problems, such as housing, is added and the BNP lights the match, we should not be surprised when fire erupts.
Until the conditions and sentiments that feed their bursts of popularity are tackled, BNP popularity will always be liable to revive.|
A Tory MP blames political correctness and gets blasted for it.
|A Tory MP has presented David Cameron with the first real test of his pledge to create a more tolerant Conservative party. Philip Davies claimed voters were turning to the BNP because political correctness had left white Britons afraid of being 'sacked or locked up' for expressing their feelings on race.
Davies said politicians were failing to debate asylum and immigration enough, prompting voters who felt ignored to turn to the far right. And he cited the suspension of a university lecturer who suggested whites were cleverer than black people, plus the unsuccessful prosecution of BNP leader Nick Griffin for allegedly inciting racial hatred, as incidents that caused voters to reject mainstream politics.
Davies, the MP for Shipley, North Yorkshire, said he would 'obviously' like his own party to talk more about the issue, but added that he believed Cameron agreed with him that tough immigration policies were crucial to good race relations.
'People feel nobody is standing up and talking about [asylum and immigration] issues. This whole thing about political correctness is a key driver of that. They feel the only way they've got now to express their opinions is to put a cross in a secret ballot for the BNP,' he told The Observer. 'The fear is if you are white and you say something that may be considered derogatory by somebody about an ethnic minority, you are going to be sacked or locked up.'
Labour MPs demanded the Tories disown Davies's views. 'If David Cameron wants to show that his party has genuinely changed, then he needs to take action against the extreme right wing in his own party,' said Martin Salter, the MP for Reading West
....Former Home Secretary David Blunkett said it would have been 'slightly more helpful' to have debated the issue well before next month's local elections.
He conceded people were 'confused' about how council housing was allocated, telling The Observer: 'Over the last 20 years, we have moved away from the time-based entitlement for public sector housing to a points-based system or even a bidding system. That has confused people in terms of who is entitled to what.'
Blunkett also called on judges to consider the political consequences before making decisions such as overturning restrictions on so-called bogus marriages or ruling that Britain must house jobless people from other countries, including those recently granted asylum.
'Far from giving people rights, it's more likely to give people justification for voting for a party or parties that would take away rights,' he said.
The government had not been able to deliver fast enough to please some people, and the BNP offered 'temporary and simple' solutions. But it would be foolish to assume it would do well on 4 May. |