October 12, 2007

Horsham: BNP's luck still out

True-blue Horsham in West Sussex is the setting for this week's by-election report. Set in the South Downs, affluent Horsham is prime commuter country, enjoying low crime levels, high educational standards, and - according to a 2006 Channel 4 programme "The ten best and worst places to live in the UK" - came second only to Winchester as the most desirable place in which to make a home.

Horsham District Council is unassailably Tory, the Conservatives holding 30 of the 44 seats, the Liberal Democrats 11, and Independents 2, with one vacancy in Holbrook ward arising due to the resignation of the sitting Conservative. Though there is an active Labour Party in the area, its vote share is abysmal. In Horsham, the Liberal Democrats form the only credible opposition to Tory dominance.

On the face of it, Horsham does not appear to be promising territory for the BNP, which contested Holbrook ward for the first time last night, but they do have a history of standing in the area.

A by-election last December in Denne ward saw them take a 12.68% share of the vote, which fell back to 10.5% when the seat was refought in May. Also standing in May was last night's Holbrook ward candidate Donna Bailey, who took 11.7% of the vote in Roffey North ward.

Holbrook ward being virgin turf for the BNP, again we are left with the problem of having nothing by which to measure their performance. The Labour vote is so small that there is almost nothing for the BNP to draw off, as May's result in the ward shows (percentages on right):

Con 1018 26.61
Con 959 25.07
LibDem 712 18.61
LibDem 698 18.24
Lab 78 2.04
Ind 361 9.44

Total 3826

The freed-up votes going to the Independent last time should have helped the BNP, as should a minor local controversy over the conversion of a disused church into a mosque. There was also the presentability of BNP candidate Donna Bailey herself, with her attractive looks and a message aimed directly at southern Conservative voters: "The primary cause [of council tax increases] is the Labour Government's re-allocation of central grants, from the South to the North to bribe its supporters." The racist core of the BNP's message was suitably muted: "Both the Tories and Lib Dems have assisted in the demographic changes being wrought in our ancestral homeland without any democratic consent or consultation. Since 2004, over 1.5million immigrants have arrived in the UK, placing unprecedented strains on our services and environment" - though there was a repeat of the BNP's pledge to deport illegal immigrants and asylum seekers.

There were also pledges of zero-tolerance towards Travellers, on helping the police to combat crime, bin collections, and the linking of immigration with green issues.

Donna Bailey, then, fought a campaign little different from that of any right-wing Tory, as perhaps she was obliged to do given the political demographic of Horsham.

Local anti-fascists reported that the BNP were actively canvassing Holbrook ward to maximise their vote in an expected low-turnout election - low turnouts tend to exaggerate the true extent of the base BNP vote when combined with a half-way serious campaign.

Opposing the BNP's attempt at plausibility was Wealden UAF and Holbrook ward Labour candidate Ray Chapman, who organised a small anti-BNP rally in Horsham and delivered anti-fascist leaflets in Holbrook.

Horsham DC Holbrook ward result:

Con 554 40.35
LibDem 602 43.85
Lab 54 3.93
BNP 163 11.87

Total 1373

The Liberal Democrats gained the seat on a swing of about 9% from the Conservatives. That Labour predictably failed to make any impression (though increasing their vote share) and came in behind the BNP is the only crumb of comfort the racist party can take from this election. Their 11.87% share is almost exactly in line with their previous comparable local results, and in all probability represents the average of what the BNP can expect in this district.

Several months on from May's disappointments the BNP's inability to put on a good electoral showing or to evince the slightest signs of a significant breakthrough continues. Whatever happened to Fuhrer Nick's winning ways?


Antifascist said...

An excellent report again. Thank you, Denise. :-)

webeatthebnp said...

Very good analysis - one point though:

When you have two-up elections (ie 2 votes per elector, for 2 vacancies) it doesn't make sense to try to calculate percentages.

The result reminds me of the occasion "we beat the bnp" - when a very vigorous Lib Dem campaign gave those who were brassed off with the "controlling group" (Labour in our case) a non-fascist home for their disaffection.

ProudSonofBritannia said...

Just been over to Stormfront and the sad losers on there are claiming this as a "good" result.

"Well done Horsham BNP - 11% in an unpromising area" sort of thing.


Given it was the only by-election being contested by the BNP this week one might have expected a strong campaign and a rather better result.

11% in the only seat being contested doesn't bode well for Euro-success

Anonymous said...

49 out of 22,000 councillors
The people of the coutry have spoken
The BNP are not wanted

Denise G said...

@ proudsonofbritannia

11% in the only seat being contested doesn't bode well for Euro-success

Nick's got to hang on long enough to jump aboard that gravy train. It's not looking good!

On another note, I've just moderated a comment from that oaf Harrington (pretending not to be Harrigton, as usual). Can I find the post he wanted to comment on? No, because it's so deep in the archives even I got fed up looking for it. Is that all fake union general secretaries have time to do - go tunnelling through the depths of LUAF looking for mentions of themselves?

webeatthebnp said...

re Griffin and the euro-elections.

One of my happiest political experiences was the night NG failed to win a Euro-seat in the North West last time.

Not just because he failed, but because the final place in the North West went instead to Saj Karim, yep someone of Asian descent, and a Moslem. And a very good MEP. Such sweet irony.

Denise G said...

That's a very heart-warming tale, webeatthebnp.

Now, I ask you, what is it with these Provisional and Official Solidarity people that they want to fight out their war on an anti-fascist blog?

And why does Harrington stalk Stormfront berating people for posting here when he's the worst offender of them all?

More Solidarity garbage pending moderation - it can wait until Antifascist has had his supper, and he can deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Bin the buggers Denise. It's all just he said she said.

Skuds said...

Good report.

We are obviously disappointed that the BNP got as many votes as they did, but it could have been worse.

This was the first election since the local UAF formed a few months ago and we found out we were woefully unprepared - but maybe what little we did encouraged a few extra votes for the Lib Dems or Conservatives that would otherwise have been uncast.