This time last year I thought it likely that the BNP would be looking at 10-15% of the Euro vote and several seats. I also thought that the vote would not necessarily reflect the innate racism of the Brits but would be a 'Not In My Name' vote directed at all three main parties. The vote would however cause much soul-searching among Labour activists and theorists.
It's beginning to look as if the "Tory", respectable tranche of the potential BNP vote could well end up with UKIP, who are also taking support from the mainstream Tories. Some polls are showing them at 15-20%. The BNP are looking very worried.
Last time out UKIP came from nowhere to get three Euro seats, and promptly vanished from the political map. I wondered whether they might break apart - their founder is now a Tory. Yet they're back with a lorry-load of cash, judging by the posters all over Swindon town centre as well as prime sites in rural Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.
This could be a good short term trend for the Government and Tony Blair. If a loss of Muslim and anti-war votes to the Lib Dems is more than compensated for by a loss of Tory support to UKIP, and the BNP is also squeezed, a few more UKIP members in the European Parliament will be a price well worth paying. Especially if their influence on everyday politics is non-existent. Given that these elections were always going to be bad ones for Labour, it could be the least worst option.
UPDATE - Stephen Pollard lays into UKIP but I think misses the point.
"Even voting Green in 1989 would have been more sensible, despite that party's lunatic beliefs, than voting UKIP today. The Green vote was taken, rightly, not as an endorsement of its specific policies but as a general concern about the environment. UKIP, however, only has one recognisable message: pulling out of the EU. Supporting that idea - and a vote for UKIP cannot be seen in any other way - would be a terrible blow to euroscepticism, since it undermines the idea that we can reform from within and hands the argument to the Eurofanatics who have always alleged that eurosceptics are in reality eurohaters."
All very true if you're talking about voting as a rational act designed to bring about a desired outcome, in this case EU reform.
But if the desired outcome is merely to raise two fingers, a UKIP vote fits the bill very well.
And Peter Preston in the Guardian blames the rise of UKIP on those awful right-wing newspapers, though he doesn't say whether he takes any credit for Respect.
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