I am not sure what point you are making about Hartlepool and UKIP, Alan.
I suppose you mean that because UKIP got 10% at Hartlepool in 2004 and pushed Tories into 4th place, and then disappeared that means the BNP pose little threat to labour now.
On the face of it, that’s not an unreasonable first theory.
But two things need to be thought about. 2004 was the height of the Robert Kilroy Silk optimism for UKIP which pushed in all their MEPs when they won 3,000,000 votes in the Euro elections. Hartlepool was the first and last big byelection coup for UKIP.
Once Kilroy crashed out, that was it. UKIP have been flatlining ever since.
The similarity to the BNP in Sedgefield is that the vote came at the expense of one major party far more than another. Then it was the Tories who were hurt.
The BNP vote has come mostly from one party too, this time it’s labour. But are the BNP be about to crash and flatline as UKIP did?
The word from the ground is no. UKIP were terribly badly led and suffered from continuous infighting as Kilroy found. This goes on to this day with Farage and Nattrass still at each others’ throats. The fur is still flying. They are not well financed and are pathetically badly led.
The BNP are well organised, well financed, and there is no infighting amongst the leadership. Their campaigning is professionally run, and they have a highhly motovated army of foot soldiers.
They avoid the media, just as much as the media avoids them, and they deliver their message through leaflet and local meetings. they are strongly controlled and led from the centre. At this point in time there is nothing which suggests the BNP are about to crash out.
On the contrary Gordon Brown is quite clearly starting to pitch at this market with his ‘British jobs for British people’ and the proposed repatriation of illegal immigrants. Brown is taking BNP seriously. Labour do not utter one word about them. The media is silent about them, and polls mysteriously do not seem able to enter the BNP into their sums.
The proof to me is that Brown is worried.
Yesterday Nick Griffin was elected leader by 91% of the votes cast by the membership. They launched a national petition for a referendum on the EU Constitution today.