A GUEST ARTICLE BY LAURA DE SORDA
The London Elections this May were probably the greatest proof of Nick Griffin's failure as a political leader to date - and that's saying quite a lot. The BNP's vote in London literally collapsed in what is probably the most spectacular political implosion the 'right wing' has ever seen.
In 2008 the BNP were riding high and the party polled 130,714 votes across the capital on the top-up list. This equated to 5.3% of the vote and saw the BNP gain its first ever seat at a higher tier of governance. What's more, Richard Barnbrook's mayoral campaign took 69,710 first preference votes.
This year the BNP took just 47,024 votes on the top up list and Carlos Cortiglia - the BNP's mayoral candidate - took just 28,751 votes. This left the BNP with just 2.1% on the top-up list - not only had their vote collapsed but they had lost their deposit for the first time ever in a GLA election.
The BNP vote on the top up list had dropped by 83,690 votes and their percentage had fallen by 3.2% - that's a 64% drop in votes and a 60% drop in their share of the vote. The BNP vote for the mayoralty had fallen by 40,959 - a 59% drop. Catastrophic figures to say the least!
You can see below how the BNP polled in every GLA and London Mayoral Election to date:
GLA Top-Up List - 47,670 - 2.8%
London Mayor (Mike Newland) - 33,569
GLA Top-Up List - 90,365 - 4.7%
London Mayor (Julian Leppert) - 58,405
GLA Top-Up List - 130,715 - 5.3% Richard Barnbrook elected
London Mayor (Richard Barnbrook) - 69,710
GLA Top-Up List - 47,024 - 2.1%
London Mayor (Carlos Cortiglia) - 28,751
As you can see from the above figures the BNP's results this year were their worst ever. 2012 represents an all time low for the BNP. Yet despite the terrible results the BNP claim to have spent over £200,000 on the campaign and Griffin described the campaign as their 'best ever' on his twitter account as polls closed.
The BNP boastfully claimed to have had a million 'specially designed' London newspapers delivered across the capital (care of a delivery company as their activist base has dwindled to an almost non-existent level). They also claimed to have delivered 500,000 A3 glossy leaflets. What's more the gas guzzling, money eating beast known 'affectionately' as 'The Truth Truck' spent weeks trundling around the capital's congested streets.
So where did the 'best ever' campaign go wrong? In 2008 the BNP spent well under half the sum the BNP are claiming to have spent this year yet managed to get nearly 3 times the number of votes. Let's examine each aspect of the campaign and see where they failed:
1) The Literature
Despite claiming to have put out over 1.5 million different pieces of literature, what was distributed clearly had no positive effect what-so-ever on the BNP's vote. In 2008 the party had 800,000 specially produced A3 leaflets shipped to the capital, this was boosted by huge numbers of locally produced 'Patriot' leaflets.
The BNP is now in no position to produce local material as their branch and group structure has collapsed across London with many former activists and organisers either quitting politics altogether or moving to other parties.
But if the BNP's claims of 1.5 million pieces of literature are to be believed (after all they boasted about these figures on their party political broadcast), then they probably put out more literature this year than ever before.
However the BNP's literature this year clearly didn't hit the mark. Their 1 million London newspapers ran with the headline 'Proud Londoner Leaves £1/2 million to BNP'. Rather than running with a policy or a reason to vote BNP, they chose a bizarre boast about their renewed financial fortunes.
This headline was far more suited to an internal bulletin and would mean little if anything to the man on the street and certainly wouldn't give anyone a reason to actually vote BNP. The headline would also come over as needlessly boastful and crass at a time when normal people are losing their jobs and running low on disposable income. Certainly not a vote winner and potentially a large vote loser.
What's more, the BNP's A3 glossy leaflet - whilst looking flashy - looked more like a tourist brochure than a political leaflet. Again this piece of literature missed the point completely as it failed to carry a single policy on its front page - opting instead for the rather weak an ineffectual 'I Love London' slogan. Certainly not a vote winner or anything that would get people thinking or talking about the BNP.
This simple, effective and highly visual representation of the immigration issue struck a chord with the BNP's core voters. What's more, even if the person looking at the leaflet didn't even open it they would still have taken something from it about BNP policy.
2) The Party Political Broadcast
This year's PPB in London - whilst not a disaster on the levels of the 2005 General Election broadcasts - was clearly a missed opportunity. Much like the literature distributed across London the PPB said very little about why anyone should vote BNP - instead focusing more on boastful nonsense about how many newspapers and leaflets the party had produced!
The broadcast smacked of an internal propaganda piece focusing on how well the party is apparently being run. The PPB then took a turn for worse as it slipped into a pointless infomercial on how to vote, voiced by Griffin attack dog Chris Vanns. Rather than spending time doing this Chris might have found his time better spent defending the last council seat the BNP held in Burnley.
Griffin then trotted out his silly new catchphrase - cross your heart for London. Not only does this sound silly and childish - it clearly doesn't mean anything to anyone. I'm quite sure that Nick Griffin thinks this play on words is pure genius, however in reality it is just another example of his political ineptitude!
Finally the there were a few policy points tagged onto the end - these took just 36 seconds out of a PPB that last 2 minutes and 42 seconds! What's more most were clearly voiced by northerners rather than Londoners - but I suppose that's what happens when most London members leave the party and you're left with little choice!
Compare this bizarre broadcast with the 2008 broadcast. The 2008 broadcast starts like a proper promotional film, it's uplifting and professional, but most importantly it soon moves onto policy points. It then moves on to showing BNP councillors and community workers doing good for their local communities - not that there would have been many left of these to show in 2012!
The 2008 PPB continues on with more members of the public all saying why they will be voting BNP and more policies are outlined. The broadcast also made a clear point of mentioning the BNP's opposition to immigration in order to reach out to the core BNP voter base.
3) Billboards & Newspaper Adverts
In 2008 the BNP ran a reasonable sized billboard campaign around London and also had adverts in the local London papers. This year there was none of this. Griffin had earlier declared at a meeting in the North West that billboards actually lose votes because the other parties use them.
This is typical of the idiocy that Griffin comes out with. By his logic should the BNP stop delivering leaflets because that's what the other parties do? Instead Griffin came up with the idea of making homemade banners out of bed sheets and hanging them off bridges around the capital.
Firstly, this would look stupid and make the party look disorganised and unprofessional. Secondly, and more crucially, are there any members left in London to do this? I'm pretty sure that not one of these homemade banners was made or hung from anywhere.
Billboards and newspaper adverts on the other hand are great propaganda tools. Not only do they offer high visibility advertising but in 2008 they also showed the public that the BNP had moved up a gear into a new league. Having these forms of advertising show people you are a credible organisation and put you on the same level as the other parties making people feel you are a credible alternative and worth voting for.
4) The Mayoral Candidate
The BNP made the surprising choice of selecting a Uruguayan immigrant by the name of Carlos Cortiglia as their Mayoral candidate.
There isn't really much one can say about this other than that Carlos was quite simply a disaster. For a party that is most well known for its stance on immigration to stand a candidate who is an immigrant and can only speak broken English is obviously an own goal. What's more in the one interview I saw Carlos give he spent most of his time trying to tell voters the BNP weren't anti-immigration!
Most people who vote BNP do so because of the issue of immigration. Carlos sent a confusing message to core BNP voters. This is clearly seen by the fact that Carlos received a far smaller mayoral vote than any previous BNP Mayoral Candidate. This is an even greater disaster when you factor in that there were less mayoral candidates this year than ever before. In 2000 there was 11, in 2004 and 2008 there were 10 and this year there were just 7!
With a much smaller list of mayoral candidates the BNP should have fared better, instead they received their worst vote ever. Picking Carlos was a huge blunder.
5) Local Activism
BNP activism in London was also massively down. In 2008 the BNP held several very large and high profile weekends of activity in London at the beginning of the year. Each day of these weekends were attended by hundreds of activists from all over the UK. Literally hundreds of thousands of pieces of literature were delivered.
During the weeks in between these weekends of action local units put out tens of thousands of leaflets and papers. The whole campaign was packed full of activity. This is a marked contrast with the 2012 campaign. Big days of action were non-existent and local units had all but shrivelled up leaving any local activity to be small and inconsequential. What's more, due to the low levels of activism the BNP regressed to street activities and stalls rather than leafleting.
In the run up to the 2008 GLA election the BNP won a by-election in London. This set the tone for the campaign and put a spring in everyone's step. Conversely in the run up to the 2012 GLA election the BNP received its worst ever by-election result in the Goresbrook Ward in Barking and Dagenham - a grim warning of things to come.
When the voters went to the poll sin 2008 the BNP were the opposition in Barking and Dagenham, had 14 councillors in London and were the talk of the town. This year the BNP didn't have a single councillor left in the capital and had just 9 seats nationwide!
In these large proportional representation elections the important thing for a small party is to motivate and enthuse their core voters. Everything about the BNP campaign failed in this respect. From the poor literature that failed to focus on policies to the boastful internally focused TV broadcast, everything failed to attract and motivate the BNP's core vote. The choice of candidate was just the final insult for many BNP voters.
So it's clear to see, this was the worst ever performance for the BNP in London - despite it being the 'best ever' campaign according to the ever more delusional Nick Griffin. Whether the BNP really did spend that much money or deliver that many papers and leaflets also remains to be seen. Rumours are circulating that the party really only printed 250,000 papers and thanks to HQ incompetence - we're looking at you here Clive - 150,000 of them are still sat somewhere in Cumbria!
Either way, this is a massive blow for the BNP and probably their greatest electoral disaster to date - and that's saying something when you take into account the awful general election of 2010 and the pounding they took in last year's assembly and local elections.
The writing is on the wall for the BNP. Griffin and his band of miscreants have destroyed the BNP and taken it to an all time low. Any leader with an ounce of decency would be apologising profusely and penning their resignation letter. But not only does Griffin think he's done nothing wrong, he's still deluding himself into thinking he's got up the upper hand.
His last tweet on the election read: "Our problem is that our millions of admirers don't vote for us. Theirs is that they have no admirers I know which problem I'd rather have!" Yes Nick, I'm sure you'd rather take the odd hooting car horn from a passing motorist or the occasional handshake in a rundown pub over millions of votes, hundreds of members of parliament, dozens of MEPs and thousands of elected councillors... The man has totally lost it!
So if you're waiting for Nick Griffin to do the decent thing don't hold your breath - the man doesn't have a shred of integrity or decency in him. For all those who have slavishly followed him this is where he has led you - electoral oblivion! But at least people still beep their horns at him every now and then - there's a consolation for you!