Time to vote

Last updated Thursday 18:00 Brockley time.

Tomorrow, Thursday 4th June, as you probably already know, is the European Parliament elections in the UK. I will be casting a vote, for three reasons, all, unfortunately, negative reasons.

First, and most importantly, I will be voting to stop the BNP winning seats. The BNP, whose constitution limits membership to "indigenous" "Caucasians" (seems like a contradiction to me), whose politics are driven by hatred and resentment, are likely to do exceptionally well in this election, due to the anti-political populist climate and the economic crisis.

The video above* is produced by Peter Cranie's Green campaign in the Northwest, where the odious Nick Griffin is likely to gain a seat. It claims that every single vote counts, but that's not strictly true, as you can see from the film. The UK (apart from Northern Ireland) uses the incredibly complicated and confusing D'Hondt method of Proportional Representation, which the video (and these charts) do a great job of explaining. This means that votes for the smallest parties, those who have no chance of gaining any seats in the regions, are indeed wasted. Unfortunately, this means that a vote for the Socialist Party of Great Britain is a wasted vote against the BNP. Clearly, though, a vote for the Greens does count against the BNP.

Secondly, I will be voting to stop the non-fascist right-wing populist parties from gaining seats, parties like the English Democrats, UKIP and Libertas, who between them constitute a sizeable force for reaction in Britain, again feeding of the resentment and racism the BNP feeds off. Although UKIP has been falling apart, these grouplets could get good votes, especially if turn-out is low, which is likely, especially in those areas where there are not also council elections, given widespread disengagement from the electoral process. YouGov today put UKIP as the third party nationally with 16% and "others", including the English Democrats, at 6%. Again, it seems to me that a vote for the Green Party will count against these parties.

Thirdly, I will be voting to reduce the Tory share of the vote. As Andrew puts it, "the Tories are going to get in under cover of darkness", even though the expenses issue shows them as far more corrupt and sleazey than Labour, while their policies on the economic crisis are at best pathetic and at worst outright dangerous: make ordinary people pay for the faults of the banks by cutting social services and... Well, and not much more.

Part of me wants to vote Labour, as I feel that they have been the victims of several things out of their control: the global financial crisis, the swine flu epidemic, and an orchestrated campaign against them from the chattering classes. The death of Labour as a political force, as in 1979, can only make things worse. To paraphrase Andrew again, they may not be anything more than the lesser of two evils, but the other evil is far, far worse. My reading of the YouGov polling data (and I'm not great at maths) suggests that in Yorkshire and Humber in particular a vote for Labour is the best vote against the BNP.

In London, the picture is so messy it is harder to call. On balance, therefore, I am voting Green, to ensure that our Green MEP, Jean Lambert, returns to Strasbourg and minimise the chances of a third Tory or second or even third UKIP seat.


Who are the BNP? Don't Panic went undercover with the BNP in Essex. Their video reveals the BNP as unreconstructed racists trying hard to present themselves as slick. In one important sequence, about 4 minutes in, they talk about their links with fascist parties they are aligned with in the European Parliament, and how getting an MEP means "we'll become, , in every sense of the word, mainstream, and, more than that, we'll have funds". Because of course, being anti-Europe will not stop them taking the large dollops of tax-payer-funded gravy the EU dishes out to the parties in the European Parliament. And, don't forget, the BNP still hate Jews, even if they talk about Muslims more these days. (More videos via Jim & HP, and pics via HP.)

Vote Labour in the Southwest: Glyn Ford is the current Labour MEP for the Southwest, in fact the only one. He is, in my opinion, one of the best British MEPs. He is in real danger of losing his seat, so if you are reading this from the South west, vote Labour.

More recent poll figures show that UKIP nationally might be second rather than third. The positive side of this the BNP vote seems to be slipping (although interviewer bias gives the BNP lower results in opinion polls than the ballot booth), but it strengthens the reasons to go and vote for the Greens or Labour.

The Tories: Another reason to vote against the Conservatives is the way that Cameron, despite his soft centrist rhetoric in Britain, has more closely aligned his party with harder right-wing parties in Europe, in fact with a number of parties who are no better than Libertas.

Populism: Talking of that unsavoury re-alignment, I just read Tony Lerman on the new populism. He quotes Bulgaria's Ivan Krastev and says: "The British mood increasingly resembles the populism taking hold across Europe. The party leaders here think they can surf the wave, but most populist politics are, in Krastev's words, "dangerous mutations". Flirting with them may well backfire."

Still confused? I am, but I'm not alone. Here's Peter The Plump.

Finally: And if you still haven't voted, read Alex Goldberg on the Second Battle of Cable Street.

*Hat tip: Jim/Greens Engage.


The Plump said…
That decided me. Labour for Yorkshire and the Humber tomorrow.
Anonymous said…
GreensEngage (wimps) missed this - http://www.mpacuk.org/content/view/5673/114/.

MPAC are a bunch of Israel-obsessives banned by the National Union of Students (for Holocaust denial and homophobia). So how does Caroline Lucas respond to their question about foreign policy? a) it's all about Israel, b) there's an unqualified variation on the old 'well-funded Jew' theme.

She's a real crowd pleaser, that Caroline. But populism aimed at racist, homophobic, holocaust deniers leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
kellie said…
I think I'll stick with Labour, and let nature take its course.
bob said…
Glad to have made a difference; let's hope Y&H's representation stay's fash-free.

Anonymous, I know what you mean. A number of the Greens leave a sour taste in my mouth too. Peter Cranie in the NW, however, has a link to Engage right near the top of his blog, and he is not alone in the party. I'm not sure where London's Jean Lambert sits.
ModernityBlog said…
Looks like Brown's demise is coming closer by the day, apparently that nasty lickspittle Purnell has resigned.

PS: Bob did you realize that the Greens were against stem cell research?
kellie said…
I didn't know that, but I see it's true.
bob said…
I didn't know that either. Any Green readers of this blog care to comment? Sue?, Jim?, Mira?
Imposs1904 said…

nice as it is for you to link to my blog, I think I'd be doing my comrades back in Britain a disservice if I didn't post the proper Socialist Party of Great Britain links:

SPGB website
SPGB election blog
SPGB Euroelection leaflet

Now if it is the case that your readership want to visit a website that is infrequently updated and, when it is updated, has little more than random unexplained pictures, corny jokes and an impeccable taste in popular music, then they're more than welcome to visit my blog.

Imposs1904 said…

'pologies for the piss poor pasting. Here, in fact, is the SPGB election blog:

Vaux Populi
bob said…
Thanks Darren. I did link to Vaux Populi earlier this week, but wanted to spread the link love.
Anonymous said…
Hmm, I don't know much about this.
Our policy states that we support "strictly regulated research on mature human stem cells, including their possible therapeutic use" but are "opposed to mature animal stem cell research and embryonic animal stem cell research" and that "an immediate international ban should be placed on all cloning and genetic manipulation of embryos, whether for research, therapeutic or reproductive purposes".

I suspect that once the dust settles from these elections, amendments will be submitted on this policy to a future conference (policies can only be changed by members at conference). Am pretty confident that the majority of Green Party members support stem cell research. Not entirely sure how we've ended up with such a strange position on it.

We have far too much detail in our policies for a party still to gain its first MP, let alone form a government and be in a position to implement them!
Mira Vogel said…
Hi Bob, regarding the stem cell research, I'm on the GP general discussion list and I think the feeling was "Oops, legacy policy got into the news". Ben Goldacre offered to become a scientific consultant for Greens I understand. So I think we'll see a change in policy statement in the future. Now, if we can just get rid of our embarrassing policy on Israel and, yes Anonymous, Caroline Lucas' shameless courting of Israel haters, then we may be OK in the end.

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