Friday, May 02, 2008

The shame of Derbyshire

The town of Heanor is an otherwise fairly unremarkable little place in the old East Derbyshire mining belt about seven or eight miles away from where I live, but today is has earned itself the dubious distinction of boasting not one, but two British National Party councillors after they were elected to Amber Valley Borough Council in yesterday's poll.

This would be almost excusable if their election actually represented the democratic will of the people of the town, but it does not. Thanks to the workings of the first past the post system, the pair have managed to be elected despite less than 40pc of the vote in both cases.

In Heanor West ward, the BNP candidate Lewis Allsebrook won with 727 out of 1,836 total votes cast, or 39.6pc, while in Heanor East, Cliff Roper emerged victorious on the strength of 36.4pc of the poll, or 537 out 1,473 votes cast.

It's the rest of the townsfolk I feel sorry for. Most people in Heanor either didn't vote BNP or didn't vote at all, but they are now going to have to put up with their town being treated as the racism capital of the Midlands for the next four years. Shame.

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14 comments:

Justin said...

...they are now going to have to put up with their town being treated as the racism capital of the Midlands for the next four years. Shame.

Maybe not. These BNP tools don't tend to stand up too well to the rigours of the job. Fingers crossed.

jaymason said...

sorry but that's democracy for you. with proportional representation or other means they would have had more public officers long ago, just have to hope it encourages people to use their vote and kick the sods out next time around.

Quiet_Man said...

You have to ask yourself exactly why people voted for the BNP, was it something or some concern the mainstream parties weren't offering?

I could hazard a few taboo subjects that the mainstream media and political parties ignore and this is why the BNP prosper.

Clive B said...

I've never understood why, but the Heanor / Ripley area have long had a large BNP presence - I am aware of ethnic public sector workers being warned and guided to "safer" parking when visiting the area.

I don't understand your comment about it not representing the democratic will of the people though.... they were voted in by a majority of those voting in an official election .....whether we like the result or not, isn't that the definition of democracy in this country.

Stephen said...

I have no more time than you do for the BNP, nor for our current first-past-the-post electoral system, but I find it difficult to see quite how you link the two. Quite a good proportion of Labour councillors, and several Labour MPs, hold their seats on exactly the same basis.
Any voting system that more accurately reflected the allegiances of the electorate would, as another comment points out, mean more rather than less BNP representation. Sad but true. And despite that, we should still change our electoral system.

curly15 said...

Sad thing is Paul, that with a "new" proportional voting system in London the GLA now has a BNP member too!

I guess there would be many more if we all had PR?

Anonymous said...

New Labour without any mandate flooded the UK with immigrants,then lied about the numbers,lied about the costs and lied about the benefits.
Anyone with the audacity to complain was then smeared as a racist.

New Labour,repeat New Labour alone is responsible for the increased popularity of the BNP through their deviouis,dishonest policies and they will pay dearly for this.
In electoral terms you ain't seen nothing yet.
Sid,

skipper said...

Paul
I do so agree, though the PR system for the London Assembly actually brought a BNP into that forum, so its swings and roundabouts with voting systems.

Stephen Rouse said...

This defence of the BNP - "the mainstream parties are not responding to people's legitimate concerns" - is utterly bogus. It would be akin to the German SDP saying in 1930 "if we don't respond to people's legitimate concerns about the Jews, they will keep on turning to the NSDAP." (Yes, I am aware of Godwin's Law, but I think the analogy fits in this case)

Anonymous said...

Totally absurd & childish to try and compare Nazi Germany with normal people's concerns in the UK about the floods of immigrants.

Why don't you just try and smear them as raciosts?

Stephen Rouse said...

I agree the reductio ad hitlerum is normally absurd and I was hesitant about bringing it up. But in this case I'm afraid there are marked parallels with BNP tactics. The stigmatisation of mainstream parties as out of touch with "normal people's concerns". The gradual ratcheting of political debate to make the unacceptable acceptable. The myth of a "liberal elite". There are some books I can recommend if you'd like.

Phil Beesley said...

Yes, Stephen Rouse, I want to know the titles of the books that support your argument.

Anonymous said...

Apologies for a hasty comment, Stephen Rouse. On review, I agree with your comment. But still, the book list...

stephen rouse said...

Well, if you insist. Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism remains excellent of course, particularly on the concept of cultural warfare (a phrase you will also find in the 2005 BNP manifesto). Bullock's Study in Tyranny is regarded by many as the standard biography but is dated and was mocked (perhaps unfairly) by AJP Taylor, whose own Origins of the Second World War...
How the hell did we get on to this? My "books" jibe was a cheap pop back at anonymous which I'm quite happy to withdraw in the spirit of his/her last comment. Perhaps we can just agree that the BNP are a bunch of bad eggs who need to be resisted here and now, regardless of who their historic antecedents may have been.
(definitely my final word on this - that should have been SPD and not SDP in my first post)