Been a wee bit quiet on here despite there being lots to write about over the last few days. Unfortunately, I've been a wee bit busy with an important engagement and things have been a wee bit busy to blog...
I'm actually on holiday at the moment anyway, but I wanted to take a minute to discuss the result of the Euro election.
A friend of mine (a natural Tory voter I think...) pointed out to me that he thought it rather ridiculous that there was such a difference in votes between the 2004 & 2009 elections in Scotland and yet the end result (with the exception of the reduction in total seat numbers from 7 to 6) was the same. He wanted to know why the SNP could win nearly 100,000 votes (or 8% of the vote) more than Labour and still only get the same reward - 2 MEPs.
The answer, of course, is the D'Hondt electoral system. It's all about PR. At the end of the day, Labour hung onto their second seat by around 8,000 votes.
My Gran asked me about the BNP. She wanted to know how they'd won two seats when (she thought) less people voted for them in 2009 than in 2004. In fact, in 2004 they won 800,000 votes while this year they got 940,000. Nick Griffin won his seat in the North-West by only 5,000 votes while Andrew Brons got his by the same margin in Yorkshire and the Humber.
That's statistically how they did it. But how did they secure these votes? My Gran asked me if it was Labour's fault. And I thought about it for a minute. I ended up saying no, but qualified it somewhat. Extremist parties like the BNP feed on the anxiety, the fear and the anger that comes from recession conditions. They play on this fear for jobs, concern about "foreigners coming here, taking our jobs" etc etc. And they play down the dark side of their politics in order to appeal to a wider audience. So in that respect, Labour have to take some of the blame - though you can argue whether it is them or the global financial situation that is responsible for the recession.
But equally I think the other parties have to take some responsibility for the rise of the BNP too, for two reasons. Firstly, as many commentators have argued, the state of mainstream politics at the moment - particularly with the expenses scandal - and that has made voters less likely to cast their vote for the mainstream parties. That, for me, is a short-term theory.
In the long-term, parties have invited support for the BNP by ignoring the threat that they pose to democracy. Let me explain that. Rather than taking on the BNP's radical, discriminatory and racist views in public they run away, saying that they won't share a platform with them. Why the hell not? It it that downright lack of belief in the ability to defeat these racist views in a public forum that has meant the BNP have not had to defend these views.
For goodness sake, treat them like any other political party - which, in case you haven't noticed, with 2 MEPs and a handful of councillors across England, they have become. Take them on in the democratic game they want to play. Get Nick Griffin on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman and let him rip him to shreds. Debate with them. Let them have their say and then shout it down - politely and democratically. Above all, let their views out in public so that voters can see them for what they are - and, ultimately, won't vote for them again.