Sunday, September 30, 2007

Baroness Warsi: BNP Have a Point? I Hear Dog Whistling

The Independent on Sunday's cover story is right here, far right here even and the same paper rehearse all Dave-id's woes in this field. Thanks to the well-connected Westmonster for the heads up and Tom Watson for pointing me there.

Can Baronesses be lowered to being commoners once more? Or given lessons in how to express complex ideas in ways that promote rather than detract from your job as a promoter of Community Cohesion? Was it arrant foolishness on Cameron's part to give someone a seat in parliament and a sensitive portfolio without a bit more experience and nous behind her?

Or, and I tend to believe this to be the case, is this an absolutely planned, absolutely cynical and absolutely culpable huge great massive dog whistle? With Cameron and Osborne and Johnson and Saatchi planning every word of it?

The BNP simply DON"T HAVE the answers Baroness. You know that. So don't give them the credit for a few pieces of silver and a blur of ermine. We can be sure that the answer is not to blame immigration and immigrants for everything, or anything much. Indeed we should be very thankful indeed.

But we should also acknowledge that the underlying issues of housing and education and health and crime now finding this baseless scapegoating, by the BNP and the Tories, are not being addressed well by the political classes.

There are estates and suburbs often written off as "non voters" or "against" or "core" that get very little useful attention from any mainstream politicians. These are ripe for miserable pavement politics from new players with a nasty twist.

Let me give you one example. In 2005 I spent a couple of mornings during the campaign period distributing anti-BNP literature in David Chaytor's Bury North constituency. This was in the Totterington area, near to the hotspot for BNP activity and less than a mile I believe from where the BNP candidate lived.

All sorts of tenure, but the majority seemed to be Right to Buy owner occupied. The area was well groomed. Grass cut. No environmental crime evident. Quiet. No rat runs. No youths on street corners. Litter free.

But it was also free - about one week before polling day - of evidence of ANY PARTY working the area. Absolutely no posters on display. No leaflets in porches.

It was a safe Tory ward, three Tory councillors and all. But I'd not be at all surprised to find the same kind of pattern in a safe Labour ward.

It's understandable. We all concentrate on our key voters, swing voters, target voters, and on our key seats too. They will have had electoral addresses in the post. But if Mr BNP came knocking as a neighbour some residents might well be open to suggestion.

Taken for granted people don't vote or are susceptible to those who do pay them some attention. Simple as that. In Bury North David Chaytor's majority - from memory was cut to about 2,500. Will check. The BNP got c2,500, up from 500.

What is more despite Chaytor's strong opposition to the War in Iraq many of those leafleting against the BNP were planning to vote for small leftish sects, a single issue campaign, or the fourth and fifth party.

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