Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/487/2418
No gains for the BNP in Lincoln
Boasting they could double their representation on local councils, the far-right British National Party (BNP) made a net gain of only two nationally in the 3 May council elections. Lincoln was one area where they were convinced that they were going to make significant gains and one of the many areas where they were disappointed.
Marc Glasscoe Socialist Party, Lincolnshire
Despite getting a lot of coverage in the local media and all the benefits of their usual tactics of distortion and deceit the BNP only got an average of 282 votes per candidate in Lincoln. Their most successful candidate received 7.7%. So what happened to their alleged mass support?
With low wages, rising house prices and a rural economy heavily dependent on seasonal, often migrant, labour, the far-right believed there were opportunities they could exploit in Lincolnshire. The BNP announced that they would stand candidates in every ward in Lincoln, with two in Glebe Ward where they have their strongest support. They stepped up their attempts to be seen as a 'respectable' electoral party while at the same time their fascist core was revealed when a number of Socialist Party members and other anti-fascist activists began suffering intimidation. A specific page was opened up for Lincolnshire on Redwatch, an anti-left-wing website run by neo-fascists.
In a blatant attempt to whip up prejudice against Muslims, the BNP attempted to exploit the sale of a disused church building for use as a mosque, claiming the building could be used for 'teaching terrorism'. They wrote to the council saying 'most terrorists are Muslims.' They totally ignored genuine local concerns about parking near the building, preferring to stir up racial and ethnic tensions.
In response to the BNP coming third in a by-election in 2006 the Socialist Party initiated the Lincoln Against Racism and Fascism campaign which has led some very successful actions, particularly a 200-strong demonstration against the BNP in December 2006.
Notable in the local elections were the losses made by the BNP where previously they had won seats. In Burnley, for example, they lost three councillors. Out canvassing in Lincoln, some people told us that they would vote BNP to send a message to Labour and the Tories and the results showed this to be the case. Many people were voting for anybody but the main political parties. With everybody having three votes to cast, some of the combinations were truly bizarre, with people voting for anyone that looks like a way of getting at the main big business parties. This included voting Labour out of fear of the Tories and voting Tory out of hatred for New Labour.
In the end Lincoln went over to the Tories, after about 25 years of Labour control. They only have a majority of two, leaving the potential for some clashes over the coming year. But ultimately they will only be fighting over who can come up with the most cuts, or squeeze the most out of the workers. People recognise this, which is why they are open to parties who put forward an alternative programme. More than ever, this shows why we need a new party of the working class, prepared to fight for the interests of ordinary people and oppose the constant privatisation and attacks on our services and living standards.
In The Socialist 17 May 2007:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
International Socialist Resistance
Campaign for a New Workers Party
International socialist news
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party workplace news