Sunday, 23 September 2007

Hardest game in the world

"You a minor party activist, eh? Hardest game in the world that, innit eh?" So might say the Fast Show's Archie. Perhaps the New Nationalist Party's Keith Axon was thinking along those lines last week. He managed to accrue a mere 25 votes in the Brandwood ward by-election for Brum City Council and a whole 265 votes behind his BNP rival in third place.

If there's one thing I've learned whilst wasting my life away political trainspotting, it's that it is easier for a pub side to beat Brazil than for minor parties to break the Lab/Con/Lib stranglehold on political life. The odds are greater still when splinters from minnows throw their hat in the ring. As with so many others, the case of the NNP is, I fear, more to do with personality clashes and inflated egos than with sincere aspirations.

A case in point is last year's Scottish Socialist Party/Solidarity extremely messy split. For a while at least I had thought that maybe the left had begun to actually get things right (no pun intended) for a change. But, no they had to balls it all up and give the tabloid press a field day into the bargain. Result - seven lost MSP's. What's the Latin for 'Don't hold your breath'? I'm thinking of adopting it as this blog's motto.

Titbits from the Outer Limits

A Welsh Community (i.e Parish) Councillor has joined the BNP. Not much to crow about, I grant you, but slightly more interesting given that said councillor is ex-UKIP.

I promised myself when I got this thing up and running that I wouldn't constantly bang on about Respect (Peace be upon them) but the Galloway/SWP split is showing no signs of abating. Come November's conference we should see the familiar sight of expulsions, walkouts and general mayhem. Nice to see the SWP's negative Midas touch still alive and kicking.

A little birdy tells me that the Greens are aiming for half the parliamentary seats in England and Wales whenever Gord decides to go to the country. Their highest score to date, I think. It'll cost 'em, but I admire their ambition.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Third Position? It's all Greek to me

I've always found national elections on the continent (that's Europe, I'm a euro-centric pig) more interesting than here in Blighty as you tend to get more extreme voting patterns. Also a bewildering array of parties from all over the political spectrum end up coming away with at least a seat or two.

Yesterday's Greek elections were no exception. OK, the main outcome was not so unusual with the the centre-right narrowly beating the centre-left, and there was the familiar sight of more communist parties than you could shake a stick at all clamouring for proletarian affection (the combined far-left vote was nye on a million - a figure the Brit left can only dream of) But one lot who really caught my eye were the Popular Orthodox Rally. Relatively new kids on the block, they managed to bag 270,000 votes and 10 seats (net gain 10)

Browsing through their programme (i.e. Wikipedia) I was intrigued to read this:

"...the demarcation of the political world in the Right Wing and the Left Wing is not relevant anymore after the end of the Cold War. Nowadays, everyone in every aspect of his or her everyday life is either in favour or against Globalization". The party claims to consist of radically diverse groups that span the entire Left-Right political spectrum. Party president Karatzaferis, speaking on the 6th anniversary of the party's creation, stated "We are united in the only party that has in its ranks labourers and scientists, workers and the unemployed, leftists and rightists..."


That makes 'em pretty much Third Positionists by my reckoning, and going mainstream in Greece? There's me thinking 3P was destined to remain on the fringes for now. The cultural imperialists won't be happy.

I also read today that the prospect of Flanders and Wallonia going their separate ways really IS on the cards. Fair play to 'em, national self-determination and all that...That's one in the eye for the EU, innit?!

Sunday, 16 September 2007

You are now entering Free Berkshire

I send greetings in solidarity this week to the comrades who put up 'Berkshire' on a roadsign on the Wantage Road in Wallingford. While I cannot possibly condone the defacing of public property, I do stand by the cause of freedom for historic Berkshire and for the restoration of boundaries of all the traditional and historic English shires. Perhaps the tide is turning. Most of northern Berkshire was annexed to Oxfordshire by the stroke of a Whitehall pen in 1974, without so much as a by your leave.

As I write no group has yet claimed responsibility, but it does seem to follow the pattern of County Watch

Titbits from the Outer limits

The NF must be feeling a bit down in the dumps lately what with losing their parish councillor to the BNP (see a previous post) but every cloud has a silver lining. They beat UKIP in a Lewisham by-election last week, albeit by 6 votes and not exactly winning either. Also their candidate had previously jumped ship from the BNP. Swings and roundabouts.

Back in the Summer the Cornish National Liberation Army threatened to shout rude words through Jamie Oliver's letterbox, along with some nonsense about receiving logistical back up from the Provos (hmmmmm.....) All the hoo-har this generated in the media annoyed Mebyon Kenow, the moderate Cornish nationalist party. Well, the media love freedom fighters and 'Cornish World' magazine scooped an exclusive interview with the CNLA in which they claim 30 members. Tearing down Cross of St George flags seems a general tactic.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Don't dismiss King Nick

As a sort of postscript to my previous ramblings below, I often hear from other political trainspotters and weirdoes that far too much column inches and credence is given the supposed rise of the BNP. "They're small fry, far too much fuss is made of them" is often spouted. Nonsense! The BNP in effect have only been around since the autumn of 1999 when Nick Griffin deposed John Tyndall. Formed in 1982 they were really going nowhere under Tyndall, until their retreat from street politics in '94. This start to their modernisation process gave Griffin the chance to worm his way to the top espousing the euro-nationalism that gave Le Pen and Haider the limelight. In 2002 they gained 3 councillors, five years later they have 50 - now that takes some doing even when you take the immigration issue into account. It took the Greens 30 years to get over the 100 mark. Whilst the BNP are still far from getting MPs, they have every chance of getting MEPs in 2009.

Griffin recently won a leadership contest trouncing a Tyndallite with 91% of the vote. The membership made the right decision. Griffin is confident, an able speaker and knows how to turn the media's hostility back on them. And, apart from the odd Shinner, he's the only politician I've seen to get the Newsnight crowd all flustered.

Friday, 7 September 2007

May the fourth be with you?

Witness any post-election coverage long enough and, pound to a penny, you'll eventually get someone from one of any of the outfits from the political non-league boldly declare that their's is now clearly "Britain's fourth largest party". In the 70s this was the NF's fairly plausible statement. In more recent times Scargill's SLP and the Trotskyite SA have also claimed the title (ludicrously if you ask me)

What of today, and what are the criteria? There are certainly a few in the running: UKIP, BNP, Greens, Respect - not forgetting Plaid Cymru or the SNP. To reach an informed answer we've got to take into account things like elected representatives, membership levels, distribution of branches, percentage of vote, number of candidates standing. So, let's get the old microscope out then...(figures are from my slightly addled memory, ladies & gents, even I'm not sad enough to check up properly)

9 or 10 MEPs
Membership - 15,000 ish,
Councillors - a handful
Branch distribution - fairly widespread, strongest in South-West, North-East
Last local elections: 1000 candidates

2 MEPs, 2 London AMs, 2 MSPs, 1 N. Ireland AM (technically Scottish & NI Greens are separate entities, but what the heck)
Membership - 7000
Councillors - 110
Branch distribution - Evenly spread. Most towns & cities have a branch
Last local elections: 1400 candidates

0 MEPs (although they came close last time around)
Membership - 8000
Councillors - 50 odd
Branch distribution - A bit patchy, strongest in north (Yorks/Lancs) & London/Thames estuary
Last local elections: 700 odd

1 MP (Gorgeous George)
Membership - c. 3000
Councillors - about 20
Branch distribution - A tad patchy. Only real strongholds are London and Brum
Last local elections: Dunno, 2-300, I would've thought

Unsurprising, UKIP polled over 2 million votes in the 2004 Euro's, but they usually poll badly at General elections and even worse at locals.

Greens and BNP are similar vote-wise. Greens got just over a million at the last Euro's with the BNP on their tail with 800,000
At the last General they polled similarly, doing well in places and saving a fair few deposits each, but dive-bombing elsewhere.
At the locals both can poll very well in many places (lots of second places each) but get poor returns elsewhere. obviously with all this this is probably down to how they prioritise target wards and pool resources.

Respect do poorly in most places but can do very well in the fiefdoms. To be honest, I think they've peaked.

It's a difficult one innit? Too close to call, indeed.

In the first of a series of subcolumns, here's the first instalment of titbits from the outer-limits:

The BNP held an Epping Forest council seat in a by-election last week.

The rump NF's sole parish councillor (vacant seat, Herts) has defected to the BNP

An upcoming council by-election in Brum is to have a BNP candidate up against Keith Axon, a long-time BNP activist, now standing for the breakaway New Nationalist Party. Who said it's only the left that get a touch of the Monty Python's?

And finally...It had to happen - George Galloway has fired a shot across the SWP's bows by circulating a document complaining of disorganisation and domestic anarchy. Expect a split soon