The BNP is fielding a record 655 candidates in the local elections next month; claiming it is on target to win up to 100 new seats – double its current total.
Under the proportional representation voting system for the Scottish and Welsh elections minor parties like the BNP can win seats in the 3 May elections. There is a possibility that the BNP may, for the first time, secure representation in the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.
Unlike in a ‘first-past-the-post’ system where the most effective way of blocking a far-right party is to vote for the party most likely to defeat them (this is problematic because it asks people to vote against their natural party loyalties), under a ‘proportional representation’ system, the best way of blocking them is simply to vote – for whoever you choose.
Indeed, voter-apathy is the biggest friend to far-right fringe parties. Their highly motivated supporters distort the proportionality because the indifference of non-voters is not taken into account.
Worryingly, voter turnout has taken a steep plunge in the UK in the last ten years.
Even more troubling is that voter apathy in Scotland – where the BNP stand to make the most of P.R. – is even worse! In the 2003 Scottish Parliamentary election, a majority of Scots did not even vote! Only 49% turned up on polling day.
Under a F.P.T.P. system, there is a certain latitude to be relaxed about voting, particularly if there is strong general support for your party in your constituency. However, one can ill-afford to be so laid-back under the P.R. system. The good news is that you can vote for whichever party you support, as long as you vote. All votes are meaningful – whether it is for a mainstream party like Labour or a small party like the Greens. So the trick in this instance is to deny the BNP a significant proportion of the votes. It doesn’t matter much who you vote for – a vote for any other party is not a vote for them.
Gay human rights group OutRage! is urging the gay community to turn out and vote. Most gay people – I would hope – don’t need to be reminded how they would suffer if the BNP made electoral gains.
In a December 2003 article “Putting the record straight” published in the BNP’s Identity magazine, BNP leader Nick Griffin wrote that homosexuality is “form of behavioural deviancy” and “not a valid lifestyle choice”. He claimed the BNP speaks for “the majority of the population” who, he says, believe “homosexuality is wrong” and that it “needs to be pushed humanely but firmly back into the closet”. Griffin warns that if gays continue to “press their aims further” there will be an “almighty backlash” which will result in the imprisonment of all homosexuals.
OutRage!’s message to the gay community is: “Lesbians and gay men can help block the election of candidates from the racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and homophobic British National Party (BNP). Make sure you and your straight friends vote on 3 May.”
All communities and groups targeted by the BNP must redouble their efforts to get their constituencies out to vote as well as persuading all people of good will to do the same.
Remember – every vote not cast helps the BNP.