THE BUSTED FLUSH
Acknowledgements to Eddy Butler's blog where this article first appeared
A GUEST ARTICLE BY LAURA DE S’ORDA
Griffin spent much of Wednesday 4th of May making his usual boastful pre-election claims. Rather than learning from his previous pre-election blunders Griffin was on form this year talking up chances in key areas. Griffin’s most notable faux pas was his article on the BNP website: “British National Party Has Tremendous Chance of Winning Welsh Seat, Says Nick Griffin.” Did the BNP really have a “tremendous chance” of winning a seat in Wales? Clearly not, as the BNP results were almost 50% down on the 2007 results.
INTO THE VALLEYS
Wales, the party’s most likely hope of a seat in a devolved government, was just another example of the massive decline of the BNP. In 2007 the BNP polled a respectable 42,197 votes across the whole of Wales in the regional top up lists. This result left the BNP in 5th place ahead of UKIP and the Greens. Overall the BNP took 4.3% of the vote in Wales, a result that shocked many and showed just what potential there could have been for the party in 2011.
Griffin shared this little gem with us all at 4.32am on May 6th via his Twitter: “Our Welsh vote is up, but not enough. Not for lack of trying, we ran a good campaign with funds available.” Well come on Nick, if you’re going to lie at least try to make it a good one. The 2011 results in Wales were not up at all in any of the five Welsh regions. The BNP’s 2007 result was almost slashed in half to just 22,610 votes – a decline of almost 20,000 votes.
This result shows that the party’s popularity in Wales has dropped by almost half. What’s more, the BNP’s share of the vote fell to just 2.4% of the national vote which left the party in 8th place. In 2007 the BNP had polled ahead of both the Greens and UKIP. In 2011 the BNP was not only out- done by the Greens and UKIP, but also the Socialist Labour Party who managed to come 7th.
During the count, dismayed at the lack of support for the BNP, Griffin tweeted: “Here in Swansea our vote doesn't match the great public response of last few days. Weird.” Despite spending the week prior to Election Day busying himself all over Wales he clearly had failed to actually engage with the vast majority of voters. At his side was the ever loyal Simon Darby who took time out of his hectic schedule of telling us all what birds frequent his garden and what deals he has found at the local butchers to actually do something vaguely political. Yet neither of them managed to grasp just how the BNP’s support has literally melted away.
NORTH OF THE BORDER
The political collapse of the BNP wasn’t just limited to Wales, north of the border in Scotland things were just as bad with the party failing to poll over 1% of the vote. In 2007 the BNP polled 24,616 votes in the Scottish regional lists. This amounted to 1.2% of the vote and saw the party come in 9th place. The BNP did however manage to beat UKIP. Whilst this was hardly a great vote, things could have been worse.
This year things got worse, the BNP managed just 15,580 votes in the whole of Scotland. This represents a drop of over 36% - more than a third. Whilst not as great as the drop in Wales, this is still a massive reduction in votes. Again the BNP’s share of the vote fell too; in the end just 0.8% of people in Scotland voted for the party, a reduction of 0.4%. The BNP’s final position in the polls was 10th place. This was below UKIP, the Scottish Christian Party and the Socialist Labour Party. So much for Britain’s ‘fourth’ political party!
Despite both the Scottish Parliamentary and the Welsh Assembly results showing a massive decline in the popularity of the BNP, both results also have other serious implications for Nationalism. It is clear to see that there is a growing shift toward devolution [not in Wales, AE] and in the case of Scotland we could now end up seeing a referendum on Scottish independence, which if successful [a very big "if"] would have profound implications for the BNP and its viability [the BNP being so strong there?]. It is also another reason as to why the English Democrats are a party that look in a better long term position than the BNP [the EDP is a minnow, even compared to an ailing BNP and a civic nationalist minnow at that] and is yet further vindication [what was the earlier "vindication"?] of the many [sic] people who have been moving over to them.
THE ENGLISH COUNCILS
The BNP’s misery wasn’t just confined to Scotland and Wales though. It was much the same in the English council elections. BNP votes were down all over and several sitting BNP councillors lost their seats. In fact, the only two wards the BNP managed to win were Queensbury in Bradford, where Lynda Cromie held her seat and East Goscote in Charnwood where Cathy Duffy held hers. These two seats are interesting anomalies and we will return to them later for further discussion.
The BNP’s biggest loss of the night was in Stoke where five sitting BNP councillors lost their seats. Just over a year ago the BNP had nine councillors in Stoke and Griffin referred to it as one of the ‘jewels in the crown’. Several fall outs and high profile resignations left the branch weakened. This was all compounded in 2010 when Simon Darby parachuted himself into Stoke for the General Election as Griffin believed it to be a ‘winnable seat’. In Stoke-on-Trent South the vote went up from 8.7% in 2005 to 9.4% in 2010 and in Stoke-on-Trent North the vote went up from 6.9% to 8.0%. In Simon’s Stoke-on-Trent Central constituency, instead of a marginal increase there was a marginal decrease from 7.8% to 7.7%.
Results all over the country were down, some by a massive margin. In South Tyneside Martin Vaughn polled just 5.3%, this was down from 15.5% in 2007. Sadly this was not a one off, in Birmingham the average BNP vote fell by around two thirds, wards where the BNP enjoyed around a 15% share of the vote in the past were reduced to scraping around 5%. Thurrock, once a BNP strong hold, was another major casualty. One of the best wards in Thurrock, Grays Riverside, where the BNP had previously won saw the BNP vote collapse to just 167 votes. Labour won the seat with over 1,300.
Burnley, the town where the BNP made its historic breakthrough in 2002, was another victim. Hapton with Park, a ward the BNP had won several times before and Len Starr had successfully defended in the past, saw a massive decline to just 369 votes which trailed the Labour total of 871 votes. Similar results were seen in Rotherham where in one key ward the BNP vote fell from over 30% down to 17%. Serial trouble causer Peter Tierney, a man that seems to spend more time being arrested than doing anything productive, recorded an all time low vote on Merseyside with a humiliating 44 votes.
These are just a few examples, but they are mirrored all over the country. The BNP vote was significantly down everywhere. The two seats that were retained were interesting cases. Both Lynda Cromie and Cathy Duffy operate almost as independents, both playing down their BNP affiliation and working locally within their communities. Lynda Cromie is also the wife of Paul Cromie who is an extremely hardworking councillor. Paul and Lynda have both donated significant sums to local charities, pensioners and community projects.
JUST TWO WINS
Two victories out of over 260 council seats is pretty poor going for a party that claims to be Britain’s fourth political party. As the poor results kept rolling in Griffin was digging deep for new excuses. Usually Griffin confines his excuses to wild conspiracy theories involving state agents/safety valve parties/ Searchlight and anyone else he cares to lump into his wild tales. This election was a little different though, Griffin tweeted: “Greens seem to be picking up more than usual. On back of Japanese earthquake I guess.” Blaming a natural disaster for his shortcomings is a first even for Griffin! Again though this tweet shows just how out of touch Griffin really is, the Green vote in Wales (where he was at the count when he made this absurd suggestion) was actually down by a thousand votes on their 2007 total.
But before long Griffin was back to his old self. He soon tweeted: “Message for the Searchlight/Civic/ Thieves alliance: The BNP is not going away, and nor am I. We've work to do!” It was back to conspiracy theories and the usual blame game for Griffin. Also he clearly took pains to point out that despite two disastrous rounds of back to back elections he has no intention of going anywhere. It would be customary for a party leader who had been at the helm during two such disasters to do the decent thing and stand aside – but doing the decent thing simply isn’t in Griffin’s nature.
Griffin however then began moving into defiant mode, and one particular tweet shone out: “So goodbye to beaten Welsh Tory leader Nick Bourne who called us 'sub-human flotsam and jetsam'. His political career is over. Sorry to disappoint the oppo, but mine is only in the early stages!” So after an utterly awful round of elections in which the BNP took a total hammering, lost another large chunk of its remaining councillors, failed to get a single new councillor elected, witnessed its vote halve in Wales and failed to poll over 1% in Scotland – Griffin wants us all to know his political career is just beginning!
So after a massively punishing round of elections where the BNP vote was decimated, the number of elected BNP councillors dropped to under 20 and public support returned to pre-2002 levels, one thing that hasn’t taken a hit is Griffin’s belief that the party is his to run into the ground. Griffin’s recent tweets show just how deluded he is. The man is fiddling as the BNP burns [a nice turn of phrase, Laura]. He is the root cause of the electoral decline we are seeing, but he will cling to his position at any cost. The BNP is no longer a political party but a vehicle for Nick Griffin and his overblown ego.