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.
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.