May 29, 2004


Scott directs our attention to this anti-BNP thread on ILX.

Only today, I was walking across to the shops when I saw a discarded BNP leaflet on the pavement. In Bromley. Don't know what the political history of this area is, to be honest (nearby Eltham, of course, has an ignominious reputation).

Last week I was walking by Ladbroke Grove station where people were giving out leaflets issued by Ken Livingstone. The point was simple: he was requesting that we exercise our vote, not necessarily for him or for the Labour Party, but for anyone apart from the BNP, because current projections suggest that they will gain enough of a percentage of the vote to gain representation on the London assembly.

Ordinarily I wouldn't vote. Not out of 'apathy', but from principled disengagement. It always seemed to me that the only way to in some small way remove legitimation from Nu-Labour was to increase the non-voter statistic. But Ken's right. It's a duty to keep fascists out. So I'll be voting and I hope everybody else will be too. (BNP supporters excepted, naturally).

Posted by mark at May 29, 2004 12:33 AM | TrackBack

In Belgium and in France, similar blocking out tactics are formally or informally in place, against the Vlaams Blok and the Front National respectively, but haven't really succeeded: witness 2002's French presidential election, the VB's stronghold in major cities like Antwerp and the fears around the upcoming legislative elections. This leads me to conclude that stirring up votes in a negative fashion (vote against, rather than for something) is nothing more than a superficial measure.

Posted by: mwanji at May 29, 2004 03:07 PM

I'm sure you're right, mate, but I want to do something ---- and surely a vote for something other than the BNP must be a good thing?

Posted by: mark k-p at May 29, 2004 06:51 PM

Can't dispute that, I just don't see it as much of a real strategy.

Posted by: mwanji at May 29, 2004 10:47 PM

Ken's position is cock.

The BNP rely on their credentials as radicals who the establishment despise, and who are nasty enough to "get the job done". That is exactly how their support has been built over the last 10 years.

And how do the established parties respond? By uniformly calling for a vote for "anyone but the BNP" - playing right into their hands. It looks like they have lost confidence in their own politics, and frankly they are right to be scared.

As for the rest of us, resisting the BNP *and* New Labour has to start a lot closer to home than County Hall or the European Parliament.

In terms of voting - asking people to vote for the same load of shit just to keep the BNP out is a non-starter. You could end up calling for a vote for the Tories in some areas if it came down to tactical votes. What a great way to spend your time that would be...

Posted by: john eden at May 29, 2004 11:34 PM

OK, point taken, we're not going to achieve utopia tomorrow by tactical voting against the BNP.

But I still maintain that the first and most pressing need is to keep fascists out; and, quite honestly, if that means voting Tory in some areas, so be it. It's not as if there's a massive difference between them and N-Labour any way.

Posted by: mark k-p at May 30, 2004 01:47 AM

To refer back to the French elections again, due to chronic administrative laziness I couldn't vote, but I wouldn't even have voted in the second Chirac vs. Le Pen round. And amid all the 80%+ hullaballoo, seemingly no-one noted that *more* people voted for Le Pen in the second round than in the first, *despite* unprecedented calls for negative voting.

While the thought of having Le Pen for president is pretty horrific, I kind of think "Let 'em in." Take the examples of Austria and Holland: the far-right got into government and then more or less fell apart. OK, Italy's a counter-example, but who said Italians were rational.

Posted by: mwanji at May 30, 2004 01:47 PM

It's not as if they're going to get into government though is it? They're just going to gain enough legitimation to spread their influence without having the responsibility that might lead them to self-destruct.

What's likely, I think, is that UKIP will take up a lot of their potential support.

Posted by: mark k-p at May 30, 2004 04:09 PM

Re - principled disengagement. Isn't it better to submit a spoiled ballot than not to take part at all? I read the anarchist theory that, in the event that spoiled ballots are a majority in a particular ward/administrative area, that area becomes autonomous in some way and...

Posted by: Dan at June 1, 2004 11:56 AM

the anarchists theory is unfortunatley wrong i believe as it would just go to the next biggest actual party .

Posted by: mms at June 1, 2004 03:49 PM

MMS is right, but if you do spoil your ballot paper, it gets given to all the candidates (and I think the returning officer) to read. So you can tell them directly what you think of them on the day itself...

Posted by: john eden at June 1, 2004 04:55 PM

Simon Jenkins in The Times today says there should be a 'Thai option'. Apparently in Thai elections, there is a 'None of the Above' box; if 'None of the above' gets more votes than any other candidate, then there has to be another election in which none of the above can stand!

Posted by: mark k-p at June 2, 2004 10:31 AM