He is not my MEP! – the resistible rise of Nazi Nick

The odious Nazi Nick Griffin is now supposedly ‘my’ MEP – with just 8% of the vote on a low turnout! The anti-fascist majority will be repulsed by this absolute slime-ball,  and ‘not in our name’ is sure to rise again in the slogan charts. I hope this outrage is met by intensified protests and resolve to beat back the forces of fascism. Already I hear that anti-BNP protests are called for later today (Monday 8th July) in Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield.

Yet the big problem is that the Labour Party is collapsing after years of selling its soul to capitalism, war and greed. And we need something to fill its place  – a new progressive popular political force that opposes the greedy bankers, corporate power and corrupt politicians who grow rich by exploiting and degrading the people and our planet.

Could that new left political force  be  the Green Party?

Total VOTES in 2009 EU elections across UK (from BBC):

Votes MEPs
Party Total % Total +/-
Conservative 4,012,600 28.6
(+1.2)
24 +1
UK Independence Party 2,440,438 17.4
(+0.5)
13 +1
Labour 2,151,907 15.3
(-7.0)
11 -5
Liberal Democrats 1,953,575 13.9
(-1.1)
10 +1
Green Party 1,223,303 8.7
(+2.5)
2 0
British National Party 916,424 6.5
(+1.4)
2 +2

In these elections, in terms of overall vote, the Greens came fifth, with  8.7 % of the vote, or  1, 223, 303 votes from across England and Wales. This beats the BNP’s vote, of  6.5 % or 916, 424. 

However, because of the way these votes fell regionally, and because of the number of parties in relation to the particular ‘D hondt system’  of proportional representation, the BNP got two MEP seats. Griffin got his by a hairs breadth, just marginally ahead of the Greens:

Greens V’s BNP in North West Region –

BNP            132,094            8.0%    

Greens        127,133             7.7% 

Hard work saw the Green vote grew by 2.1 % to 7.7% – good, but not quite good enough. Even though the Nazis vote only grew by 1.6 % it was  enough to just beat the Greens. Could other left forces have boosted the green vote?

The Green Party machine is patchy across the North West, with some strongholds like Lancaster, but areas it does not touch. The old left could help increase the green Parties reach – but the Green Party would also have to become more trades union friendly. This is just one dimension of the left / green realignments that have to take place.

Preston has a large left-wing electorate, electing Socialist Alliance and Respect councillors. But the blog of Michael Lavalette the SWP’s leading Preston councillor was silent on the issue of these elections, and hasn’t been updated since April this year on any issue. The SWP’s fudged position of ‘vote left’ did not help. Maybe a mobilisation by what was once Preston Respect or Socialist Alliance could have swung it for the Greens? Was unity possible? did we even try?

Other small left parties votes got a few percent between them in the North West.  Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party got 26,224 votes or 1.6% while the coalition of the RMT / SPEW / CPB ‘No2EU’ slate got 23,580 or 1.4%. Obviously if those votes had gone to the Green Party that would be 10.7% – and we would have a pro-trades union Green left MEP, instead of this disastrous empowerment of neo-Nazis. But not all these votes were transferable – the greens might not yet have enough appeal to working class people, still ‘branded’ as middle class environmentalists to get all the SLP / No2EU votes. But I’m sure if we had won the support of more sections of the North West trades union and left wing activist scene – we could have got a few more thousand votes.

What is needed is a new counter-hegemonic alliance of the Green, Labour and Trades Union movements, around a platform of demands demanding a radical ‘Green New Deal’. The central demands include public spending not to bail out greedy bankers, but to create millions of Green Jobs by building renewable energy systems, insulating buildings and homes and  re- creating public housing in Britain on a massive scale.

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5 Comments

Filed under Fascism and Anti-fascism

5 responses to “He is not my MEP! – the resistible rise of Nazi Nick

  1. The Danish elections saw (the appropriately named) racism convicted and drunken Nazi saluting Morten Messerschmidt take more personal votes than any other candidate: Denmark is officially a fascist/nazi country, it seems. So far the extremist has received 213.550 votes, while the second is Social-Democract Dan Jørgensen with 153.188 votes.

    See also: http://politiken.dk/newsinenglish/article727483.ece

  2. now at 267.038 (from http://web.politiken.dk/valg2009/resultater/kandidater.aspx?omraadeId=1):

    Dansk Folkeparti
    Morten Messerschmidt
    267038
    Socialdemokraterne
    Dan Jørgensen
    214013
    SF – Socialistisk Folkeparti
    Margrete Auken
    180563
    Det Konservative Folkeparti
    Bendt Bendtsen
    170141
    Venstre
    Jens Rohde
    164686

  3. BenS

    Interesting but flawed analysis.

    a) The left-vote is split yes, but how exactly do you resolve the issue that the Greens are not the most prominent left-of-labour party on every level. For example, the Socialist Party are far more successful at organising within the labour movement itself and it was a SWP-led coalition that got Galloway elected as an MP. Put bluntly, it isn’t totally clear that the Greens are the most successful of those parties and so why should the others attach themselves to the Greens approach.

    b) A constant problem of the Greens is that they simply cannot win in the most working class areas. You see the Greens with seats in Lancaster, Oxford and other places – firstly these cities are well-educated university cities and secondly the location of the Greens seats don’t even sit in the working class areas of those towns. e.g. it was the IWCA that presented a short-lived but successful challenge to the Labour Party in Blackbird Leys and in Lancaster the Labour Party remains dominant in places like Skerton.

    c) The European elections had an incredibly low turnout. To judge the future success of the Greens or any other party in subsequent parliamentary elections from these results is to ignore a major factor in the difference between such elections.

    d) The Labour Party whilst losing votes across the country have proven that where they do adopt a grassroots organising model they are still the big-boys out of all the parties of the left. One look at the local election results in places like Slough and Oxford in recent years is pretty strong evidence of their capacity to mobilise when they adopt the right organising strategy.

  4. barrykade

    Hi Ben,

    I agree with many of your criticisms of the Green party, but in the above I am not arguing for a vote for the Greens in all circumstances, or that they represent the answer to the crisis of working class and socialist politics. Thus your challenge that “the Greens are not the most prominent left-of-labour party on every level” almost entirely misses the point of the article. I would agree that they are not sufficient left of labour pole of attraction “at every level”.

    But this was an article specifically focused on the North west constituency in the Euro-elections. The key issue in that particular situation was how to stop Nick Griffin. (As we have seen, Griffins election as MEP has been a significant boost for the BNP, granting them a media platform and a spurious legitimacy. It has been, as predicted, a serious set back for anti-racism, anti-fascism and working class politics).

    There was always a tactical question of which party or alignment of parties might be able to stop Griffin, within the complexities of the d’Hondt system of proportional representation?

    In the run up to the election, when the expenses scandal broke, it became absolutely clear that mobilising the Green vote would be the best tactic for anti-fascist campaigners. And this was vindicated by how close the Greens were behind the BNP. A bigger push from the left could have easily seen a Green MEP instead of Griffin. And an added bonus would have been that the Green MEP candidate was Peter Cranie, who is on the left of the party, is a green socialist and a keen trades unionist. Thus the tactical necessities imposed by the demands of this particular battleground would not have been too onerous for socialists, or one that would cause them to deviate too far from their core principles.

    Given that situation, the leaderships of the SWP, the SP and the CPB showed a terrible lack of tactical understanding. We can jump up and down waiving placards outside TV studio (and we certainly now have to do this) – but we missed a real chance to have stopped him getting elected in the first place.

    Of course the Greens are not the long term answer we need (although many of them could be part of it). In fact the Greens are often horribly sectarian in elections – standing pointless candidates in areas where Respect or the SP or other left party have a chance of winning. But I was not writing about every situation, was I? Cheers anyway, and thank you for the other important points you make.

  5. BenS

    Fair enough. I do think in the criticism of SP, SWP, etc strategy here does point to a general point about many parties’ inability to adapt in different areas to suit the tactical situation.

    In the case of the North-west, I said to people who asked me which way they should vote if they just wanted to stop the BNP that they should vote either Labour, Lib Dem or Green. Based on the previous election results there were certain conditions needed to beat the BNP. Firstly, the Labour vote could not completely collapse and then as long as this occured then either the Greens needed to beat the BNP or the Lib Dems needed to double the BNP vote (I assumed that the Tory vote would a) hold up and b) would not increase that much to attain a 4th seat).

    The one sense in which I was wrong here is that I over-estimated Lib Dem support and under-estimated UKIP’s support, as the latter were actually closer to doubling the BNP vote. Nevertheless, very few commentators predicted this and whilst I’m no fan of the Lib Dems, I wouldn’t advocate people voting UKIP unless they were absolutely THE ONLY option to beat the BNP (e.g. in a scenerio like the Le Pen vs. Chirac French Presidential election).

    If the Labour vote hadn’t have held up, then even the Greens overtaking the BNP would not have prevented Griffin getting his seat – in this sense, there was no point in taking votes off Labour, if your main objective was to stop the BNP. At the same time, the NO2EU platform was both stupid from an anti-fascist perspective and the most bizzare electoral platform ever constructed by British leftist parties. The is made plain from the pretty much moribund SLP who by simply getting a list of names on the ballot managed to beat a platform backed by a larger party in the SP, a medium-sized but very active union in the RMT and an assortment of tiny leftist parties like the CPB in pretty much every region.

    What did annoy me about the Greens in the European elections (which is why I got carried away with my criticism in my previous post) is that the Greens maintained their ‘Greens are the best tactical way to beat the BNP’ line in other regions (like the West Midlands) where it clearly wasn’t the case. In the North-West they were at least one of the options with a good educated guess of the vote shares – in the West Midlands it was purely a cynical vote-grabber when people would have been better holding their noses and voting Labour or Lib Dem. Now, I see now that this isn’t exactly what you were saying but the national stats you referred to did lead me in that direction.

    Moving back to my original point in this post. I think everyone on the left needs to take stock of what is genuinely the best tactical option, especially when fighting the BNP and this requires decisions to be made on a local level not through national platforms that are then implemented locally even when it doesn’t make sense.

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