Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Ken Livingstone is Right & Denis MacShane is Wrong

While I was typing the previous post on Denis Macshane on the train this morning I suddenly remembered that I had discussed the issue of the BNP during my interview with Ken Livingstone for Total Politics a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, this bit did not make it to the final version due to lack of space. But it demonstrates that Ken Livingstone has a rather different understanding of the reasons for the rise in the BNP...

Iain Dale: How do you best fight the BNP?
Ken Livingstone: Do you expose them for what they are or ignore them? I’ve always been in favour of exposing them and taking them on. The far right do well when a Labour government is failing. It’s basically working class voters who would be inclined to be our supporters become disillusioned. They don’t want to vote Tory. If Brown gets a fourth term it will grow as a problem, unless Brown’s policies become more popular with the working class. There is a lot of anger out there. If Cameron wins, it will be just like when Thatcher got in. The BNP will rapidly fade away. It’s a problem for incumbent Labour governments. It’s never going to be a problem for a Tory one. But the BNP are not the sharpest knives in the drawer. We’ve got to do everything possible to stop them, but it was like this in the Callaghan government when the National Front rose to prominence. The BNP will continue eating into the Labour vote until the government realizes it needs to do something for working class people.

Game. Set. Match.


Obnoxio The Clown said...

It’s a problem for incumbent Labour governments. It’s never going to be a problem for a Tory one. But the BNP are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.So, only dumb people vote for the BNP then. And only Labour voters defect en masse from Labour to the BNP.

Hmmm... telling, isn't it?

JuliaM said...

"Hmmm... telling, isn't it?"

Telling it may be, but does anyone doubt that our education system has been growing a steadily-increasing crop of potential new Labour voters over the last few years...?

Uncle Bob said...

And yet for years the mainstream media has been poprtraying them as 'far-right' in an attempt to tar the tories with the same brush when if anything, they're far left, just without the liberal strain that usually entails.

Dave H said...

Harriet Harman is triumphantly trying to grab the headlines with a Bill intended to give an advantage to ethnic minorities certain situations. This is, by definition, a disadvantage for members of the ethnic majority in an identical situation.

So, Labour are busy writing discrimination against white people into law, and meanwhile they fret and scratch their heads as to why the BNP are gaining support...


Oldrightie said...

Labour believe that mass immigration gives them mass voting fraud capabilities. Chuck in anti-white legislation and bring back deportation for whites. It's what Labour is for!

Thats News said...

What a good point. Of course, Labour cannot acknowledge the truth...

Ed West said...

Hmm. What do people mean when they say "take on the BNP"? As far as I can see it's the personnel of the BNP, not their policies, that deter more people from voting for them. I won't vote for them because I believe under the "people like you" schmooze, they are basically weirdoes, racists and nut jobs. But as for their claim that Britain has far too much immigration and is heading towards a non-white majority, first in its big cities and eventually in the country at large, all the impartial demographic studies suggest they are the ones telling the truth, Labour are lying and the Tories are too scared to say anything. Have you been to London recently, Iain?

Uncle Bob said...

I'm all for equality, but it's a two way street. Everyone should be treated the same, not made a special case

Bedfordshire Beacon said...

You surprise me quoting Ken Livingstone regarding the BNP without filling in some facts. What is missing is the fact Ken Livingstone is Chairman of the UAF which is an extreme left group that uses violence, intimidation and propaganda against the BNP.

The UAF is fundamentally an extremist political group that opposes democracy. It supports the criminalisation of dissent, of ‘speech crime’, and promotes ‘no platform’ policies against its political opponents of which David Cameron is a supporter according to the UAF.

Chris Paul said...

That Jacob Rees-Mogg still can't spell or do statistics, and his sister is a potted plant.

I'll come back to Ken, Denis and Iain and unevidenced tosh about the BNP in due course.

Paul Halsall said...

I'm not sure Livingstone is entirely right here. I realise local election figures differ, but here are the figures from the past 40 years.

In 1970 Feb, the National Front fielded 10 candidates, and got an overall vote 11,449

In 1974 Feb, the National Front fielded 54 candidates, and got an overall vote 76,865

In 1974 October, the National Front fielded 90 candidates, and got an overall vote 113,843

In 1979 the National Front fielded 303 candidates, and got an overall vote of 191,719

In 1983 the National Front fielded 40 candidates, and got an overall vote of 27,065
+The BNP fielded 54 candidates, and got an overall vote of 14, 621

In 1987 the BNP fielded 2 candidates, and got an overall vote of 553.

In 1992 the National Front fielded 14 candidates, and got an overall vote of 4,816
+The BNP fielded 13 candidates, and got an overall vote of 7,361

In 1997 the National Front fielded 2 candidates, and got an overall vote of 2,716
+The BNP fielded 57 candidates, and got an overall vote of 35,832

In 2001 the National Front fielded 5 candidates, and got an overall vote of 2,484
+The BNP fielded 43 candidates, and got an overall vote of 47,129

In 2005 the BNP fielded 119 candidates, and got an overall vote of 192,746

In this period it's simply not true that Labour Rule has always seen an upswing of Far Right votes. Heath's period of government for example was followed by a higher number of NF voters than Wilson's first term.

It's also true that the prime correspondent to NF/BNP votes is the number of seats contested.

That being said, there have been slight (total figures) increases of BNP/NF voters *per seat* contested under Labour, but in General elections at least, such parties remain very marginal (i.e. less than 1% of the overall vote), and where any casual analysis of the statistics is mitigated by massive problems with standard deviations,

Chris Paul said...

"Bedfordshire Beacon" is talking twaddle about the UAF by the way. And they are supported across politics even if their organisation cadre in many places is SWP. It's not particularly in Manchester. Labour and Lib Dems both have some connections there. Not sure about the Tories. But they might too.

pete-s said...

Ed West, 10:35

As a Londoner we see what is going on and will it finally happen to the rest of the country. The Tories, injured the last time they used immigration as a policy, cannot see that today it will be a vote winner. Overall I totally agree with you.

norman said...

When I was a school governor,the schools in which I was governor-inner city comprehensives
had a number white working class students who were badly served by the schools' policy on ethnicity which favoured non-white students. In the governor meetings, I as a brown-coloured person often suggested Saturday tutorials for these students to bring them up to the GCSE standard. This school was in the area which sent Labour MPs to Westminster for decades, politicians including Blair and others who lived in the borough did not send their children to these schools. The chair of the governors was a woolly Lib Dem human rights lawyer, the others were Labour-voting governors. I stuck out like a sore thumb as a Conservative voter.
In my period as governor in these schools, I had verbal duels with my fellow members about the issue of white working class students in these schools not getting the same attention as African, Asian, Chinese.. students get. Every word I spoke in favour of the white working class was received with hostility and the chair cut me off once saying that they were discussing multiculturalism!!

I feel that a few boroughs should get BNP councillors in more numbers to hit home the politics Labour has played all these 12 years. I do not agree with Livingston in the sense mere doing something to white working class is not suffice as long as the influx of immigrants, their benefit claims and multiculturism hype are not checked.

Thats News said...

"Tosh" "twaddle"... "potted plant"

Thank God for Chris Paul the voice of Reason.

Newmania said...

Glad you picked up on that Iain .I thought it was entirely typical of the disgrace that is Mc no-shame . A concern for the sovereignty of the country is apparently making fertile soil for the BNP. That like saying cutting out meat is supporting(vegetarian ) Adolf Hitler ( Godwin`s law prize for me please). The fact is that ( as quoted on Whats Left Nick Coen and “The Likes of Us “ that the second choice Party of 35% of Labour voters is the BNP. There is almost no cross over from Conservatives , its not a Conservative problem

Mc No shame is part of the same team as Mc Bride was and we can expect plenty more low scurrilous smears of this sort . Whats the betting he is acting on the orders of the great awk. We have had class envy pulled out of the crypt implying Conservatives are all secret racists had to follow . Its going to be a dirty GE ...

Scan said...

3rd November 2004

"...if the American economy goes into a recession because of the wild spending and tax cuts and war costs and deficit, then we could have a situation in Europe like the 1930's. America catches cold, Europe gets pneumonia, and that's when the extreme right begins coming out of the woodwork, and it's a frightening period."

Tony Benn
More Time For Politics - Diaries 2001-2007

The Backwoodsman said...

Denis McShane is wrong about almost everything, so this is no surprise; the man is an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Please, everyone, don't forget to keep hating Livingstone. Just because a bad man says something sensible from time to time, doesn't mean he is anything other than a bad man.

john in cheshire

Anonymous said...

Livingstone asks of the BNP "Do you expose them for what they are..."
Establishment policticians always make the same comment about the BNP.
Well, what is this mysterious hidden truth that will damn the BNP forever?

Mark M said...

Ahh, the old 'BNP is far right' fallacy again. Perhaps Red Ken ought to have a read of their polcies before calling them far right.

Hint: they support big state solutions

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I have done my own bit of research on the figures, and done the decent thing by citing my source:


I think it shows the BNP have gained legitimacy with the electorate, in particular as compared to the Greens.

Given how much space the MSM gives to the Greens and how little to the BNP, the figures are astonishing.

BrianSJ said...

...and Ken being mates with Al Qaradawi is of course irrelevant. He never did anything to alienate white working class people, oh no.

Martin Day said...

It was ironic Macshane talks about the BNP hours after Gordon wrote an article in the Daily Mail on Britishness!

You can tell when Brown is in a corner when he starts talking about that!

Adrian said...

"until the government realizes it needs to do something for working class people."
The government's spent the last 12 years, and billions of pounds, appeasing working class people.

Paul Halsall said...


What do you mean?

Dave H said...

New Labour MPs are never going to get to the truth of the matter because it means an honest re-evaluation of too many sacred cows.

Ken is being surprisingly pragmatic, given his own bizarre race antics (Lee 'trust him with my life' Jasper has ultimately got pretty toxic views on race). I suppose Ken couldn't have been around so long without being fairly canny on such things.

Of course some former Tory voters will have been lost with a more centrist leader like Cameron, however that's not the predominant mechanism behind current the rise in BNP support. Part of Labour's traditional base has deserted them.

Additionally, Howard's anti-immigrant rhetoric may have played badly for him last time round, but shortly after the election 7/7 happened and quite a lot of ordinary people began to wonder if Britain might has spent the past 10 years storing up trouble. The BNP have wisely played to this anti-Muslim fall out.

This is an issue that Labour are incapable of addressing rationally. We can only hope the Tories will do better when in office.

Anonymous said...

Hate to admit it but Ken is right. Watching the 1979 General Election re run on the Parliament channel I was struck by the bit were Adam Raphael and John Stapleton were discussing the unexpected enormous swings in East London to the Tories. They were saying the National Front had done poorly because Thatcher had been very strong on racial and immigration issues during the campaign. However what Ken does not acknowledge is the reason the Far Right start doing well under Labour Governments is because there is always significant rises in the number of immigrants coming into the country under Labour Governments. The number of immigrants coming into the country was manageable under 18 years of Tory rule. In 1997 immigration was just not an issue at all.

Anonymous said...

To quote George W Bush,

"I am for equal rights NOT special rights"