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First they came for the BNP, but I did not speak out....

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..well, because they're a nasty bunch of racists.

Then they came for UKIP.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6881013.ece

As the first comment points out, the actual offence is quite minor in comparison to cash for questions, the Lib Dems 2.4 million and use of a private jet, Labour's well, you name it. Yet a party that has 13 seats in the European parliment is set to go under as a result of what appears to be a 'technical infringement' as Baroness Scotland would put it.

Coming in the wake of the BNP falling (quite rightly) foul of the EHCR and Peter Hain's nonsensical legal threat to the BBC over Nick Griffin's appearance on QT, could this actually be a worrying trend in politics?

Firstly, put your personal views aside. I know you think BNP voters smell of wee, Peter Mandleson is the Devil incarnate and the EU will make homosexuality compulsory. This isn't the issue.

What we have (apologies to the SNP), are 2 to 3 main parties. With a few minor tweaks they're pretty much the same. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Every man and his dog is apathetic,that's why no one votes. In their turn the parties couldn't give a monkey's about the views of the electorate. The only way things will change is by other political parties, who don't have a hope in hell of coming to power, getting a protest vote big enough to shock the big 2 or 3.

So let people form their own parties, with views that are as distasteful as they want (within the bounds of legality). I don't care, form a Paedophile Party (as long as you don't practice it and simply campaign in favour of a change in the law), for all I care. I won't vote for you, and neither will 99.9% of the electorate.

Amongst the downright mad and evil there will be groups that capture a popular mood, be it the environment, concerns about crime, concerns about racism and lack of integration, anything they want.

At best they could influence mainstream politics once they gather a protest vote, at worst the government can say "You might think you're an influential group of community leaders, but your community and the rest of the country think you're a bunch of egotistical tossers, so no, you're not having any influence over policy".

It might mean holding our noses and tolerating some repugnant viewpoints, but surely that's better than allowing extremists of all types to flourish in the dark? Am I the only one who thinks silencing something like the BNP, by whatever means necessary, might be counterproductive?
 d_b 19 Oct 2009
In reply to Ridge:

They took illegal donations. They are expected to return them. So what?

If UKIP go bust then those who believe in the "cause" can always start another party, or lobby existing ones. They aren't being dragged off and sent to concentration camps you know. Are they?

Maybe that's why the BNP/UKIP coalition isn't in power. They would be, but the evil government had them all locked up and murdered. Yes, that's it. Pastor Neimoller even wrote a little poem to warn us about it.

Get a sense of proportion.
 Toby S 19 Oct 2009
In reply to Ridge:

>
>Am I the only one who thinks silencing something like the BNP, by whatever means necessary, might be counterproductive?

Nope. Drag them blinking in to the light so we can poke 'em and see what noises they make.

 d_b 19 Oct 2009
In reply to Toby S: I expect they well squeal like piggies

and the sound will be "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"
KevinD 19 Oct 2009
In reply to Ridge:

bit confused as to what your point is? In UKIP's case they broke the law and are having to repay the money, its not like they are being taken out back and shot.
If anything its quite amusing that the law they broke is designed to try and reduce none uk voters influence on political parties if i understand it correctly so they should be cheering the good show.

The problem with catching the mood is that parties concentrating on a single issue tend not to be overly good at putting forward a coherent overall package and hence dont seem to do so well in the polls. The pressure groups probably do a better job of hassling the government on this.



In reply to dissonance:
> (In reply to Ridge)
>
> bit confused as to what your point is? In UKIP's case they broke the law and are having to repay the money, its not like they are being taken out back and shot.

I'm just wondering if this is simply co-incidence that it's coming to court at the same time as the BNP/EHCR thing.

> If anything its quite amusing that the law they broke is designed to try and reduce none uk voters influence on political parties if i understand it correctly so they should be cheering the good show.

Fair point.

> The problem with catching the mood is that parties concentrating on a single issue tend not to be overly good at putting forward a coherent overall package and hence dont seem to do so well in the polls. The pressure groups probably do a better job of hassling the government on this.

The point is that pressure groups don't necessarily have a mandate for their claims. If a group of individuals have the right funding and plausibility, they can influence the government out of all proportion to their actual support in reality.
 d_b 19 Oct 2009

> The point is that pressure groups don't necessarily have a mandate for their claims. If a group of individuals have the right funding and plausibility, they can influence the government out of all proportion to their actual support in reality.

You mean they might not have any real voters, but some outsiders who don't feel like paying taxes can funnel huge amounts of money into their election campaigns? That would be appalling!
KevinD 19 Oct 2009
In reply to Ridge:
> I'm just wondering if this is simply co-incidence that it's coming to court at the same time as the BNP/EHCR thing.

looks that way yes, since it would be more accurate to say the current round for UKIP has come to court at the same time, it started on 2007.

> The point is that pressure groups don't necessarily have a mandate for their claims. If a group of individuals have the right funding and plausibility, they can influence the government out of all proportion to their actual support in reality.

sorry, are we still talking about individual people donating large amounts of cash to political parties?
 rusty_nails 19 Oct 2009
In reply to dissonance:
> (In reply to Ridge)
>
> bit confused as to what your point is? In UKIP's case they broke the law and are having to repay the money, its not like they are being taken out back and shot.
> If anything its quite amusing that the law they broke is designed to try and reduce none uk voters influence on political parties if i understand it correctly so they should be cheering the good show.
>
> The problem with catching the mood is that parties concentrating on a single issue tend not to be overly good at putting forward a coherent overall package and hence dont seem to do so well in the polls. The pressure groups probably do a better job of hassling the government on this.


I think that his point was that the law was being strictly enforced in this case, but not in the numerous cases where the big three have crossed the line.

It's also a bigger issue, whereby smaller fringe parties are being persecuted by the big three (less so the lib dems), and treated in rather unfair terms in the hope that those who were brave enough to vote for something different (in whatever form that came), will return to the fold of apathy.
 winhill 19 Oct 2009
In reply to Ridge:

They have to pay back the money, fair enough but they do not lose the gains they have made by virtue of the extra cash flow, so it seems the middle ground has been struck.
KevinD 19 Oct 2009
In reply to rusty_nails:

> I think that his point was that the law was being strictly enforced in this case, but not in the numerous cases where the big three have crossed the line.

So you are saying the "big three" havent, in like for like cases, been treated the same way?

Here is one example from Labour, note the resignation rather than fighting through the courts

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1570545/Labour-general-secretary-resigns-over-donations.html

and the tories:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tories-forced-to-give-up-their-illegal-donations-76589...

> It's also a bigger issue, whereby smaller fringe parties are being persecuted by the big three (less so the lib dems),

nd interesting claim, have you got any evidence to support it.
i suspect the electoral commission would be rather pissed off at people claiming they take sides.

As for "brave enough to vote". i must be being a tad dense here but what is brave about voting in a secret ballot? Cant say i was exactly shaking in the Euro elections and i didnt vote for those three.
 KeithW 20 Oct 2009
In reply to Ridge:

I see those sandal wearing, lentil munching Guardian readers have launched another attack on the BNP this morning:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6881808.ece

Oh wait...
 Dom Whillans 20 Oct 2009
In reply to KeithW (LMC):
;o)
the sandal wearing, lentil munchers have been busy though. on wikileak and indymedia this year's bnp member list is up already. not that i would advocate anyone doing anything with it though...
 teflonpete 20 Oct 2009
In reply to KeithW (LMC):
> (In reply to Ridge)
>
>

From the report
"These people are beyond the pale."

I thought that's exactly what the BNP wanted!
 KeithW 20 Oct 2009
In reply to Dom Whillans:
> (In reply to KeithW (LMC))
> ;o)
> the sandal wearing, lentil munchers have been busy though. on wikileak and indymedia this year's bnp member list is up already.

Leaked by one of their own disgruntled members, I recall. Though he probably wore sandals as he did it.
 rusty_nails 20 Oct 2009
In reply to KeithW (LMC):
> (In reply to Ridge)
>
> I see those sandal wearing, lentil munching Guardian readers have launched another attack on the BNP this morning:
>
> http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6881808.ece
>
> Oh wait...

The authors of that report are not trying to silence the BNP or deny them the right to TV coverage on the BBC though. Labour and the lfet wing are (see Mr Hain's legal attempt to block them appearing on question time)

They are simply saying that it is wrong of all political parties (especially those with extreme views) to use the Armed forces as a blatant propoganda tool to bolster their flagging popularity.

The Armed forces are politically neutral, and should be kept out of any political tittle-tattle.
 lummox 20 Oct 2009
In reply to rusty_nails:
> (In reply to KeithW (LMC))
> [...]
>
>
> The Armed forces are politically neutral, and should be kept out of any political tittle-tattle.


LOL ! Naive at best and disingenuous boll*cks otherwise...
 KeithW 20 Oct 2009
In reply to rusty_nails:
> (In reply to KeithW (LMC))
> [...]
>
> The authors of that report are not trying to silence the BNP or deny them the right to TV coverage on the BBC though. Labour and the lfet wing are

No, Peter Hain is. (And I think he's wrong.)

The Labour Party is putting up a "high value" candidate (The Lord Chancellor, no less)) against Griffin. Hard to see how that's "trying to silence the BNP"...
 MJH 20 Oct 2009
In reply to Ridge: I don't really get your point - they broke electoral law and now have to repay the money. It isn't as though this hasn't happened to other parties (incl the big 3).

I don't think it is any more complicated than that. As soon as we start giving credence to conspiracy theories then we are just giving people an easy way out (far removed from reality).
Jon Hemlock 20 Oct 2009
In reply to Ridge:

To be honest I'd welcome anything that sanitises the political system and makes it a genuine and reliable tool of election. Controversial as it may sound democracy is failing through affluence and apathy in this country. People have stopped giving a toss because 'politicians are all the same' and when the Tories/ Labour (delete as appropriate) get back in they won't change anything, and I probably won't notice that much anyway if they do.

But then as far as definable politics goes maybe we've just achieved the best-fit result at last, a fair wedge of socialism for those who want/ need it coupled with rampant capitalism to satisfy the thirsts of the aggressively competitive. Are we happy with our lot? And if not why aren't we voting otherwise?

Your point about encouraging all-comers is important too. A government, and political party, is there to represent the people. If we ban representation of certain groups then yes they will just skulk back into the shadows and infiltrate the bigger parties. Come out come out bigots, paedos and all, it's better that we can see you, then we know where we are.
 MJH 20 Oct 2009
In reply to Jon Hemlock:
> (In reply to Ridge)
>
> People have stopped giving a toss because 'politicians are all the same' and when the Tories/ Labour (delete as appropriate) get back in they won't change anything, and I probably won't notice that much anyway if they do.

Absolutely right and that was what helped get the BNP 2 seats in the European Parliament.

> But then as far as definable politics goes maybe we've just achieved the best-fit result at last, a fair wedge of socialism for those who want/ need it coupled with rampant capitalism to satisfy the thirsts of the aggressively competitive. Are we happy with our lot? And if not why aren't we voting otherwise?

Also probably true, though I suspect the reason we don't vote otherwise is lack of perceived choice and the hurdle that any new parties have to overcome in a non-PR voting system eg the Greens get a fair amount of support (and have a couple of MEPs) but are unlikely to get an MP elected under the current system.
In reply to MJH:
> (In reply to Jon Hemlock)
> [...]
> I suspect the reason we don't vote otherwise is lack of perceived choice and the hurdle that any new parties have to overcome in a non-PR voting system eg the Greens get a fair amount of support (and have a couple of MEPs) but are unlikely to get an MP elected under the current system.

This is what I was (badly) driving at in my original post.

No, the Green party are unlikely to get an MP, but as more and more people come to regard LibLabCon as being one big party, they'll (hopefully)vote for the unelectable parties as a single issue or 'protest' vote, rather than not vote at all.

If aspects of the Greens policies appeal to a lot of people, they'll attract a large 'protest' vote. If that protest vote comes from, for example, the conservatives core vote, the conservatives will adapt their policies to capture that vote back. Seeing the potential for the conservatives to gain power, labour adapt their policies in a similar way. Therefore, even if they're unelectable, smaller parties who appeal to the values of the electorate can influence the policies of the major parties. Surely that has to be better than policy being dictated by think-tanks and professional lobbyists?
Jon Hemlock 20 Oct 2009
In reply to Ridge:
> (In reply to MJH)
> [...]
>
> they'll (hopefully)vote for the unelectable parties as a single issue or 'protest' vote, rather than not vote at all.
>
Ha! Imagine the panic if this happened. There'd be heads of business and industry dropping dead in the street if the Greens accidentally got in... Worryingly the lion's share of 'protest' votes seemed to go to the BNP in the European Elections recently.

> If aspects of the Greens policies appeal to a lot of people, they'll attract a large 'protest' vote. If that protest vote comes from, for example, the conservatives core vote, the conservatives will adapt their policies to capture that vote back. Seeing the potential for the conservatives to gain power, labour adapt their policies in a similar way. Therefore, even if they're unelectable, smaller parties who appeal to the values of the electorate can influence the policies of the major parties. Surely that has to be better than policy being dictated by think-tanks and professional lobbyists?

This is what modern UK democracy has become I believe. Not exactly the intention but not a bad second place to the genuine goal. Basically LibLabCon will be the government but with pantone changes every four years...

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