Hope Not Hate Reports:
The British National Party declared it a “great result!” and announced to its supporters that they were again on the road to winning major breakthroughs.”
You would have thought that the BNP had just pulled off an historic victory but instead it was celebrating its third place in the Rotherham by-election. But, given the recent problems of the BNP, it was perhaps something to cheer.
“Not only did we beat both the government parties, achieving a total number of votes which surpassed theirs put together, but we beat the widely-predicted winner Respect in a heavily Islamised constituency,” the BNP crowed on its website and in a fundraising email to supporters.
So, is the BNP back? No, and we will explain why.
The BNP certainly did perform well in the Rotherham by-election and if UKIP hadn’t grabbed the headlines over the removal of children from a foster family because of their membership of the party then it is likely that the BNP would have done better. They might even have been battling for second place and their vote would have certainly have been well above 10%. As it was they came third with 8.5% of the vote.
But let’s not read too much into this. After Barking & Dagenham, Rotherham gave the BNP its highest vote in the 2010 General Election. It has had two councillors in the constituency in recent years and the council has been beset by an awful cover-up which allowed a grooming gang to operate for ten years without hindrance. The by-election was caused by a resignation of an MP for fiddling his expenses and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were always going to struggle. It was a perfect opportunity for the BNP but their vote, respectable as it was, was the consequence of other factors rather than anything the BNP did.
There were two other parliamentary by-elections last Thursday but only one was contested by the BNP. Perhaps they should not have bothered. The party polled just 1.9% of the vote, well down on the 5.8% the BNP received in the 2010 General Election.
Two weeks earlier the BNP contested two other parliamentary by-elections. The party received 3.0% in Manchester Central, down from 4.1% in 2010, and just 1.7% in Corby, well down on the 4.7% it polled in the last General Election.
The BNP have, if anything, done even worse in other elections held over the last month. Of the dozens of council by-elections held over the last few weeks the BNP contested just two. In Ardwick ward, Manchester, the BNP polled 1.7%, while in Branksome East ward, Poole, the BNP's William Kimmet was last with a laughable 28 votes.
The BNP did not even bother to contest the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections. They claimed it was a moral stance against the politicisation of the police service but of course it was because the party did not have the money to stand.
Seen in the wider context the BNP result in Rotherham was an anomaly rather than a sign of an upward trend. If anything, the BNP is in a weaker position now than it was two months ago. The English Democrats did surprisingly well in the PCC elections, saving its deposit in five contests and coming second in South Yorkshire. UKIP, on the other hand, end the month with 13% in the latest national opinion poll and, for the moment at least, it is basking in the limelight of being a respectable right wing alternative.
Also, it should be pointed out that while 8.5% was OK for the BNP it was nowhere near their best parliamentary result. In fact, a quick look back at the records shows the BNP candidates have gained a higher share of the vote than that received in Rotherham on 17 occasions since 2001. Even in 2010 the BNP gained a bigger share of the vote in eight constituencies so let's put Rotherham into perspective.
So while Nick Griffin crows about the Rotherham result the reality, as always, is quite different. The BNP has been on a downward spiral since its European Election triumph in 2009 and nothing in the last few weeks demonstrate that this is going to change in the very near future.