Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Taking the protest vote away from the Lib-Dems

DO you remember, back in December, that there were some eyebrows raised when the Lib-Dems in Bexley asked the UAF to help with its campaign in the East Wickham by-election? It was a bit of a surprise because in the past it had always been Labour that had worked hand-in-hand with the 'anti-BNP' group run by the Socialist Workers Party.

I believed that I mentioned at the time that there was more to this than met the eye and it was not just about the Lib-Dems wanting to parade its anti-BNP credentials in order to pick up the immigrant vote.

This has come to mind again after a report on the Kent News website this morning - Lib-Dems organise anti-BNP rally. Now the Lib-Dems weren't even able to put a candidate up in Swanley, so it is a bit of a surprise that they feel able to organise a rally. It would have been something you would have expected from Labour with us having just taken its seat.

Now cast your mind back to last Thursday. No, I'm not thinking about the Sevenoaks by-election, but the contest in Thringstone. What was the real surprise about this result apart from the huge 28% vote for the BNP? It was the derisory vote for the Lib-Dem candidate - just 76 votes which amounted to 4.6% of the total vote. What makes this vote even worse is that it was down by a massive 20.3% from the Lib-Dem vote back in May 2007.

When at Steyning Grammar School back in the early 1960s, I joined the Young Liberals, and then when I was 18, the Liberal Party itself. I did so because I felt a 'plague on both your houses' attitude towards the class based Tory and Labour Parties. I was looking for a Third Way and the Liberal Party was all that was available . . . until the National Front came along.

I believe that there are many people out there who feel now, how I felt then. They vote Lib-Dem because they can't stand New Labour or the Conservatives and are showing their opposition to the two main parties - it is just a protest vote. In fact, I would venture to propose that nearly half of those who vote Lib-Dem have little idea what its policies are all about at a national level. Yes they like the community politics, but I'm pretty certain would shy away from any true 'liberal' agenda.

Today, with its shallow Cameron-like leader, the Lib-Dems has lost that edge that made it an alternative and the home of the protest vote. Now, for people who see through the media spin and are tired of the cosy relationship between the Old Gang parties, there is the chance to lodge a real protest vote, a vote that has the establishment quaking in its shoes, a vote for the dreaded British National Party.

That's why the Lib-Dems are in a tizz over the BNP because they see us taking the protest vote which has been theirs by default for the last 30 years. This is very important for us as the European Elections are all about our 'vote share'. If we can shave a percentage point or two off the Lib-Dem vote and put it on to ours it could mean the difference for a region between having a BNP Member of the European Parliament, or not.

My theory might be tested tomorrow in the Greasley by-election in Broxtowe. This is a safe Conservative seat with Labour as the main challengers. The BNP candidate polled 17% here last time and the Lib-Dem 10% which should already prove my theory but I'm hoping that there still might be a little more movement here despite the already low bottom-line of the Lib-Dem vote. The last minute intervention of a UKIP candidate might also skew the figures but it is worth checking out the percentages when the result comes in tomorrow evening.

Very good letter from Alistair Harper in The Scotsman this morning. Alistair has the knack of getting his letters published which is no mean feat with the anti-BNP stance of the media. You can read it here.

And finally thanks to Freedom's trusted Subscription Manager Colin Goodgroves, for this photograph of the Wingfield Castle taken at the marina in Hartlepool. I love anything like this and for many years have lobbied for family holidays to be taken 'barging' on a river or canal on the Norfolk Broads or in France, but I have always been out-voted 4-1. Hopefully with the chicks flying the nest at a rate of knots and hence the anti-barge holiday vote losing its majority, I might just get my wish in the not too distant future.

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