BNP fails to secure seats in Barking and Stoke Central

Nick Griffin is not elected to parliament, as Labour vote in Barking goes up.

It seems that the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, has failed to win a seat in Barking, east London. Simon Darby, standing for the party in Stoke-on-Trent Central, also appears to have lost out. They are among a host of failures for the far-right party tonight (it fielded a record number of candidates), but these two seats were the setting for high-profile campaigns that the party believed it could win.

The candidates conceded defeat before the final results were in. The leader of the party, who is already a Member of the European Parliament, said at 2am: "I'm being realistic. Margaret Hodge is clearly going to hold the seat." In an interview on BBC Radio Stoke, Darby was negative about his prospects and complained that the leaders' debates had disadvantaged smaller parties.

To put it lightly, this is a relief. The BNP's campaign has been beset by violence -- perhaps not at every turn (before BNP supporters flock to this blog to refute the claims), but it can certainly claim more bust-ups and physical fights than any other political party.

Yet, to a large extent, the BNP's extremist politics have dictated the perameters of the mainstream debate on immigration,. It is vital to reclaim the discussion from this malignant influence.

Update

5.30am: The final results are through for Stoke Central.

The BNP came third (behind the three main parties), with 7.7 per cent of the vote. This is way behind the Conservatives, who came third with 21 per cent. A total 2,502 people voted for Darby -- 0.1 per cent more than voted for the BNP last year. It's a very slight increase, but not one that we need to worry about.

6.01am: Provisional results for Barking have just been announced.

It's a huge majority for Labour's Margaret Hodge, who won with 54.3 per cent of the vote (roughly 6,000 more people voted for her than in 2005). The Conservatives were in second place, and Griffin secured 14.6 per cent of the vote. This suggests that a significant number of people voted for him (6,620), but nowhere near enough for him to be close to a seat. The surge in Labour support may suggest that the people of Barking are, for the most part, saying a resounding "No" to the BNP.

Final results for Barking have yet to be announced.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Is the French Left having its Jeremy Corbyn moment?

Benoit Hamon won the first round of the Socialist party's presidential primaries. 

Has the French Left taken a Corbynite turn? That's certainly the verdict of many after the first round of the French Socialist Party's primary.

In first place is Benoit Hamon, who quit Francois Hollande's government over its right turn in 2014, and counts the adoption of a universal basic income, the legalisation of cannabis and the right to die among his policy proposals, with 36 per cent of the vote.

In second place and facing an uphill battle to secure the nomination is Manuel Valls, the minister who more than any other symbolized the rightward lurch of Hollande's presidency, with 31 per cent. That of the five eliminated candidates - under the French system, if no candidate secures more than half of the vote, the top two go through to a run-off round - only one could even arguably be said to be closer to Valls than Hamon shows the struggle he will have to close the gap next weekend. And for a variety of reasons, even supporters of his close ally Sylvia Pinel may struggle to put a tick in his box. 

Still, Valls clearly believes that electability is his best card, and he's compared Hamon to Corbyn, who "chose to remain in opposition". Also making the Hamon-Corbyn comparison is most of the British press and several high-profile activists in the French Republican Party.

Is it merited? The differences are probably more important than the similarities: not least that Hamon served as a minister until 2014, and came up through the backrooms. In terms of the centre of gravity and the traditions of his party, he is much closer in analogue to Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham than he is to Jeremy Corbyn, though Corbynistas and Hamonites bear a closer resemblance to one another than their leaders to.

What will give heart to the leader's office is that Hamon surged in the polls after each debate, when his ideas were given a bigger platform. But what will alarm everyone in Labour is the French Socialists' poll ratings - they are expected to get just 6 per cent in the elections. (And before you scoff at the polls, it's worth noting that they have, so far, performed admirably in the French electoral cycle, picking up on the lightning rise of both Hamon and Francois Fillon.)

That attests to something it's easy to forget in Westminster, where we tend to obsess over the United States and ignore politics on the Continent, despite the greater commonalities: throughout Europe, social democratic parties are in a fight for their lives, no matter if they turn to the left or the right.

The Democrats, in contrast, won the presidential election by close to three million votes and lost due to the electoral college. They have good prospects in the midterm elections and their greatest threat is gerrymandering and electoral malfeasance. But absent foul play, you'd have to be very, very brave to bet on them going extinct.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.