September's flood (well, stream...well, brook) of by-elections moves on apace, with three contests on the 11th, and no fewer than five on the 18th.
The BNP's performance on the 11th can be summed up very easily. There was no performance. Like Solidarity at an Industrial Tribunal. Like Dickie Barnbrook at a London Brains Trust. Like Nick Griffin at a charitable function. They didn't show up! And so the voters of Harrogate, Guildford and Guisborough (North Yorkshire) were able to elect their representatives (two Lib Dems, one Conservative) without the distraction of the BNP sideshow. (Interestingly the Harrogate ward had suffered a BNP candidate in the recent past; more evidence of the "churn" which is so damaging to the party.)
On the 18th there were five contests: Leeds, two in Suffolk (one County Council, one District Council, in the same area), a seat in Pembrokeshire, and the Glasgow City Council ward vacated by the SNP victor in the recent Glasgow East parliamentary by-election.
The good people of Pembrokeshire and Suffolk were left alone by the BNP (interesting that their recruitment "success" at the Pembrokeshire Show, much trumpeted on the website, didn't result in their being able to field a candidate). Mr Darby's Quiet Revolution sleeps on...
The Leeds by-election was intriguing, being a ward held by the Greens with a substantial majority. They held the seat, but with a hugely reduced majority as the Lib Dems surged through to second place. The BNP finished fourth with 12.7% of the vote, just ahead of the Conservatives and with the Alliance 4 Green Socialism behind them. From our perspective a worrying result. For the BNP to take over 12% in a seat with a wide choice of alternatives, and at least two parties mounting energetic campaigns, indicates a troubling level of electoral support.
But Glasgow was, frankly, an absolute disaster for the BNP. In an alternative vote election (the sort-of PR system used in Scottish local government by-elections) they polled just 73 votes, one behind the "Solidarity - Tommy Sheridan" candidate. It amounted to 1.4% of the vote! I somehow doubt that their Glasgow campaign will get much prominence on the BNP website!
Finally, I need to mention a Town Council by-election in Evesham, which was "graced" by a BNP candidate, because this one might be featured by their website, and claimed as further evidence of the Quiet Revolution.
The BNP came third, and took 18.6% of the vote. So far, so bad. BUT, before we despair (and they rejoice, and anticipate multiple MEPs), consider the following:
- There were only three candidates (so, to put it another way, they came last);
- It was a Town Council by-election (i.e. an urban parish council), and neither the Lib Dems nor Labour bothered to contest the vacancy;
- The turnout was a miserable 11% (which reflects the significance of the event), so the proportion of the electorate who felt sufficiently motivated to go out and vote BNP was...er...2.04%. Which is about the proportion who declare for the BNP in opinion polls, and certainly won't achieve electoral success, even in a European Election party list system.
Across September in total there will have been 18 by-elections - the BNP will have contested just five. Mr Darby? Are you waving...or just drowning?