How to stop the BNP
The Socialist Unity Network

How we stop the BNP in the North West constituency

Peter Cranie

Green euro-candidate in the North West

As rightly pointed out in the article on PR, Respect taking more votes from Labour than the Greens would make it easier for a 4th placed party to get elected in the North West. What I believe is that tactically we should make it as difficult as possible for a 4th placed party to get elected and I say that as someone who will probably vote Green. I'd rather have no 4th party win a seat than run the risk of letting in the BNP.

If Respect's votes do come at the expense of New Labour, but Respect finishes below the BNP, those anti-racist votes just won't count. Unlike using a transferable vote, the D'Hondt system starts with the larger parties. Votes cast in June for the old Liberal Party (for instance) who polled 22,000 last time, will not be useful in keeping out the BNP.

The 6% level of the Green vote is likely to remain intact (I've only
actually heard of 1 Green member in the whole of the North West that has actually switched to Respect), as environmentalists are unlikely to be (initially) tempted by an unproven new party with similar policies. The fact that the Greens are a lot stronger in the NW region now than in 1999 (8 councillors - 1 in Manchester and 15% share of the vote in some bits of Liverpool) means that you can probably expect them to nudge upwards a couple of %age points.

Racism is becoming a feature of our political landscape, and New Labour has to take a lot of the blame. This is a challenge beyond these elections, but right now we need to keep advancing this serious discussion on how anti-racists on the left should vote, in the NW region, in this election, to keep out the BNP. Do Respect supporters vote for Respect because they believe they can win? Or do they weigh up the likely outcome and think, ok, we are not going to get an MEP, so I'm going to hold my nose and vote Green or Liberal Democrat, while hoping that GG gets elected in London.

The NW is absolutely pivotal to British politics. I don't think people have realised the enormity of it. This is a "Le Pen" type moment in British politics, and right now, with just over 2 months to go, the BNP are in pole position. I strongly believe that without the emergence of Respect, SA would have done a deal with the Greens, and an anti-racist party would theoretically be sitting ahead of the BNP in 4th, but we have to start the campaign now in today's reality.

It is an unfortunate fact that we are looking at around about a 15% vote for nationalist (UKIP) and racist parties (BNP and England First Party - EFP) in the NW. If we can stop them, here, this June, they will collapse. Griffin's whole strategy has been leading to this moment. Already the far right is splintering, with the emergence of the EFP, but they are hoping to hold it together long enough for Griffin to get a national platform. If that happens, the combination of "legitimacy", media recognition and funding from the EU (effectively worth 1 million gross over the 5 years), will make them a permanent feature of the political landscape.

I only think we can do it if respected (pardon pun) non-Green analysts on the left can make the arguments well enough and visibly enough to get rank and file Respect campaigners to take notice. I hope we have a post election scenario where the BNP are defeated in the NW by a strong Green vote and a noticeable switch from Respect to Greens (compared to other regions).

March 2004