All entries for Saturday 17 April 2010

April 17, 2010

Why you shouldn't vote for the BNP

I know most (hopefully all) of my readers won’t need convincing not to vote for the BNP. But if you have the misfortune of having friends that are thinking of doing so, well here’s something for them to think about.

Let’s get this out the way. The BNP have continually expressed racist views. Most of us abhor them. But it’s no surprise that there are racists in this country. Quite a lot actually. And they’ll vote for the BNP. As we saw in the 2009 European Parliament elections, when the North-East of the UK had enough BNP voters to get them two MEPs. Two representatives in the European Parliament. It sucks. But that’s how democracy works, we have to live with it. A sizeable minority of people are racist, and their racism is the major factor in their political opinion. As such, they are entitled to representation as a minority. Their voice gets heard in Parliament, just not very often and it’s generally ignored. At the end of the day, that’s fair. That’s democracy.

Now, the elections for the European Parliament are done on a sort of split proportional representation system. It’s different to the UK General Election, and in many ways fairer. But what it does mean is that you’re mostly electing a party rather than a person. Each party produced a numbered list, and if they get enough votes for 5 MEPs, then the top five candidates on the list get the spot. Nick Griffin decided that he wanted the MEP job. So he got himself put at the top of the list. The BNP got the votes. Congrats Nick, you won, now you get to be the voice of your voters in the European Parliament for the next five years. We might not like it, but you won it fair and square. People saw your name at the top of that BNP list and went “Yeah, that’s the guy I want representing me in Europe.”

Except it’s now less than a year later, and: hmm. Nick Griffin appears to be standing for election as an MP in Barking at the general election. Now understand, there’s a rule on dual mandates for MEPs that was introduced before the last European election. Simply: they’re not allowed. You can’t be an MP and an MEP at the same time, your job is split too much and so it’s expressly forbidden. So should Griffin win in Barking, and he’s putting up a hell of a fight, he’ll have to resign as an MEP. After serving less than a year of the five years he was elected for. Now, he’s not the only one doing this, UKIP’s Nigel Farage is doing the exact thing. I’m fairly sure there will be some candidates from the major parties doing the same thing too. They’re basically using the European elections as a stepping stone. I personally find it hugely distasteful.

But it’s worse with Griffin. Because this is the man that wants to bring back national service. The guy that will go on and on about how it’s important that each us of serves our country and our responsibility to Britain and all that guff. But when the people of North East England tell him that they want him to be their representative in Europe, he shirks that responsibility after a year in search of fame and a higher wage.

Griffin has no connection with Barking. That constituency’s BNP support was built up by a man no-one’s ever heard of called Mark Tolman. When he started making gains they dropped in BNP high-up Richard Barnbrook in 2005. When he did well enough that it turned Barking in to the BNP’s best shot at winning a constituency in 2010 then guess what? Yep, Nick is there to take the glory. “Fuck Europe, we might win something, I’m in.”

See, whatever you might think of the BNP, even if you agree with their policies, Griffin is a self-publicist first and foremost. It’s interesting after the Question Time debacle that Griffin complained and said he wanted to be invited back to go on again and talk about the issues of the day, rather than having half the programme be devoted to him. He didn’t once suggest that they get on another member of the BNP. Since Question Time prefers variety and a less well known face might make it easier to not get distracted by just talking about the BNP.

The BNP is just all about Nick. He becomes party leader. Sees a chance to get a BNP MEP in with the North East vote, so puts himself top of the list for that election. Then sees a chance to get a BNP MP in parliament in Barking, so forgets about the MEP thing and stands for that instead. And if the BNP don’t get that seat, but end up making bigger gains in a constituency that isn’t Barking… well, you can guess where he’ll be standing in the next election.

The frustrating thing is the rules on dual mandates mean that Griffin can be an MEP, stand for the MP position, and only has to step down as an MEP if he wins. There’s no risk. It’d be much more interesting, and I think much fairer on us all, if you had to stand down as an MEP the moment you ran for an alternative office. If you lose, bad luck. You’re out of a job. Perhaps you shouldn’t have stood for the MEP position in the first place if you weren’t serious about it.

Alas, it doesn’t work that way.

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