Letters - The threat of fascism

Catherine Fieschi (Letter of the Week, 31 January) underestimates the threat posed by the British National Party (BNP). In 2004, it came within a hair's breadth of obtaining seats in the European Parliament and the London Assembly. In the Euro elections, it got 808,201 votes, 4.9 per cent of the national total. In London its 90,365 votes were a 4.7 per cent share. The BNP's electoral support has risen steeply over the past few years and is already at a higher level than any previously achieved by a fascist party in Britain. Unless this advance is halted, the BNP requires only a small increase to make a qualitative breakthrough on to the national political stage.

Weyman Bennett and Sabby Dhalu
Unite Against Fascism
London WC1

Catherine Fieschi asserts that the arguments in our article ("One in five Britons could vote far right", 24 January) are based on figures drawn from "second-order" elections. This is not so. As we made clear, our findings are based not only on electoral analysis, but also on evidence from a national opinion poll, exit polls and focus groups. We are not stigmatising anyone, but reporting on what seems to be a dangerous mood among about a fifth of the electorate. Dr Fieschi accuses us of reinforcing the voters' mistrust "of what they see as a pro-European, liberal elite". We see it as a complacent liberal elite, and hope that the political classes will address honestly the fears and resentments that fuel this mood, and deal with its social and economic causes.

Peter John, Helen Margetts, Stuart Weir
School of Public Policy
University College London
London WC1

This article first appeared in the 07 February 2005 issue of the New Statesman, Push here