Friday, 4 April 2008

Every failure to vote on 1 May is a vote for the BNP

I bumped into Ken Livingstone this morning, canvassing for the May elections at the Nag’s Head shopping centre, on Holloway Road, with my local MP Jeremy Corbyn. On a day when all the headlines were about Ken’s ‘secret’ kids and Boris Johnson’s teenage drug-taking (neither of which was actually ‘news’ or, to most people, surprising), Livingstone was raising a more important issue – and one that may prove to be of the most lasting consequence when the votes for the London Assembly are counted.

This is, quite simply, ensuring the biggest possible turnout on 1 May to prevent the British National Party from gaining representation in the government of London.

As Ken Livingstone’s campaign declared today, ‘One of the things at stake in this election is London's future as a united diverse city, where all communities and individuals feel they belong. The British National Party is a direct threat to that unity ...

‘We have to get across one simple fact: there’s only one way to stop the BNP, which is by actually going out to vote against them. A low voter turnout will help the BNP get elected. For the fascists, success means getting 5 per cent of the total London vote. The higher the turnout the harder it is for them jump the five per cent hurdle.’

Earlier in the week, at the London Evening Standard hustings, when asked to sum up his message in 60 seconds, Livingstone devoted most of his allotted time to an appeal for voters of all parties to turn out to stop the BNP. ‘Vote for me, Boris, Brian Paddick or Sian Berry, but don't let the BNP get a seat,’ he said.

It’s not exactly a revolutionary appeal from the one-time author of If Voting Changed Anything, They’d Abolish It, but it’s none the less important for all that. The BNP’s attempt to make racism respectable has enjoyed more local successes, including in parts of London, than any far-right party since the second world war. Even one of their number obtaining a platform at City Hall would be an advance to top all that they have achieved so far.

No excuses, then, my anarchist friends: every failure to vote on 1 May must be considered a vote for the BNP.


Anonymous said...

I think one of the few things I agree with Ken is his dislike for the BNP! But why did he not mention that it is even worth using one of your votes for on of the other minor parties that also have distain the BNP like Alan Craig and Linsey German?

James said...

Utter rubbish. I share your disgust with the BNP's politics, and not only will I be voting on May 1st, I have been delivering election material for one of the Mayoral candidates. But I find your contention that not voting is the same as voting for the BNP very problematic. You single out anarchists (whilst leaving the genuinely apathetic alone for some reason) and you seem to be saying that even people who identify with an anti-racist political philosophy, who may well not only be regular activists but anti-racist activists, but who don't vote because they don't have faith in the political system will somehow be responsible for the rise of the BNP?! There are many people to blame for the rise of Britain's neo-Nazis (politicans of various stripes, various racist newspapers etc) but anarchists are not among them. I agree that a BNP member of the GLA will be a big problem, and don't subscribe to the liberal commonplace that enaging the BNP in debate will 'expose' them. I even agree people should come out and vote in order to stop the BNP. But if they don't I respect their reasons and reject a facile slogan like "Every failure to vote on 1 May is a vote for the BNP". A vote for the BNP is the only thing that constitutes a vote for the BNP, and those are what we have to stop.

Antifa England said...

How fucking dare you post this on Indymedia on the name 'Antifa'.

The position of Antifa on voting to 'defeat fascism' is clear, if you doubt it please look carefully at our website. You evidently have nothing to do with Antifa at all.

The Labour Party is directly responsible for the rise of the far right in Britain, voting for them will make the problem worse.

Steve Platt said...

james: I singled out anarchists because I have lots of anarchist friends, but you're you're right - I shouldn't have left the apathetic alone.

antifa england: I haven't posted this on Indymedia or anywhere else under any name

anarchist sal said...

Someone from Antifa posted your blog on Indymedia
It seems like someone else from Antifa doesn't like having anything they disagree with on there.

Steve Platt said...

Thanks for that. Interesting discussion there, once you get past the headbangers.

Danny said...

The BNP lost 85 deposits at 2005 general election costing them £42500.

The Electoral Administration Act 2006 lowered the required share of the vote to 2%, so if the vote is the same at the next general election then the BNP will only lose 12 seats, costing them £6000 - or rather saving them £36500.

Different elections have different deposit amounts - the London mayoral election deposit alone is £10000.

The more people who don't vote out of apathy or principle, the more money the BNP have.

This act affects all small parties and independent candidates. There are philosophical and political implications that are maybe worth discussing. The Labour & Conservative party came up with this act which they knew in advance would benefit the BNP financially, which partly proves 'the Labour Party is directly responsible for the rise of the far right in Britain, and voting for them will make the problem worse'.

In elections where the BNP are standing and likely to get more than 2% of the vote, pragmatic anti-fascists who wish to impoverish the BNP would vote for either the 'least-worst candidate' or for the 'least-likely-to-win non-fascist candidate' - simply to increase the total vote. There is more than one way to spoil a ballot and still get a real result. Does anyone seriously argue that voting for the 'Monster Raving Loony Party' is an endorsement of our sham democracy ?

Electoral Administration Bill

Election changes 'will boost BNP'

Electoral Administration Act 2006

Kevin Blowe said...

James alerted me to your posting and suggested I respond.

See latest post at

Steve Platt said...

That's a thoughtful response on Kevin's blog - worth a read. It implies, though, that there is a choice between voting and doing other things to combat the BNP and the far right. No one who knows anything about my long involvement in anti-racist campaigning would ever think that I see voting as sufficient in itself, or that it should be to the exclusion of other work.

Anonymous said...

I've never seen such a stupid argument. Only two candidates have any chance of winning this election - as only two parties have any chance of winning a General Election. The two parties are as bad as each other and participating in these elections (or indeed the General Election) only lends them legitimacy.

This is a pathetic social democratic attempt to convince those who can see the futility of our current political system to participate in it. Grow up.

People who really care about progressive politics/issues wouldn't be seen dead voting for anyone in a system that is so clearly and heavily skewed in favour of the despicable political/economic class that runs the UK.

Nick Lowles said...

Let's vote to defeat the BNP

Today is polling day so make sure you vote.

Watch the Kooks, Hard Fi and others on our Get Out and Vote video at:

Anonymous said...

Increasing voter turnout will also make it more difficult for Greens and Socialists to get elected. Socialists and Greens should be calling for a positive vote not saying 'vote for anyone but the BNP'. Who decided this foolish strategy? The Labour Party?

Colin Hughes said...

The Greens and socialists make it hard enough for themselves already by not putting together a common list. They could have got at least two more seats in London last time if they had. This time, with two Respect parties, will probably be even worse.