The three main political parties will meet tomorrow tomorrow at Westminster to try to agree common ground rules on how to fight the British National party in the European election on 4 June.
The meeting will look at a loose code of conduct, including an early warning system if any party finds a rival candidate is resorting to semi-racist remarks or literature. The idea of imposing a blanket policy of refusing to share a platform with the BNP, something the Tories oppose, will also be discussed.
The meeting will be held between the Tory chairman, Eric Pickles, the Labour deputy leader, Harriet Harman, and Lady Scott, the Liberal Democrat president.
The BNP launched its European election manifesto today, hoping that it will be able to exploit public anger over MPs' expenses. Its leader, Nick Griffin, said the party would threaten "tired, corrupt old politicians".
Behind the scenes, the Tories are angry that it has taken so long to set up the meeting and claim it has been cancelled twice at short notice by Harman's office. One source claimed it even looked as if Harman would not mind if the BNP did well because it would provide Labour with an alibi if it came third in the elections.
Privately, MPs from all sides recognise that they are likely to be victims of an anti-politics vote in the European and county council elections. They can only hope other minor parties such as the Green party, Ukip or Libertas benefit, rather than the BNP. A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times at the weekend, put Ukip on 7% and the BNP on 4%.