And in an analysis of the party's campaign in the by-election, Eddie Barnes uncovers the BNP candidate's stance on the big issue:
Baillie goes on to spell out his hardline and somewhat eccentric take on immigration. "The only people, I will tell you sir, the only people that Britain should take in as refugees, as asylum seekers, are persons from the nearest two countries, which are France and Ireland."Leaving aside the fact that Mr Baillie's views on immigration - as opposed to asylum - aren't really made clear, it's interesting to compare this with another by-election analysis, this time by Allan Brown in the Sunday Times. This takes a wider look at the contest, but is dominated by an examination of the campaign of independent candidate John Smeaton, "the amenable but unlettered folk hero of the 2007 Glasgow airport attack". But perhaps the most interesting passage is this:
Everyone else should stick with their own neighbours, he declares. So, if someone arrives on these shores from Zimbabwe, having been tortured, and who tells the authorities they will be killed if they are turned away, our response should be to tell him we're full up? "Yes," Baillie says immediately. "They have neighbouring countries where they can go to." The BNP could easily be re-named the NMP – the Not My Problem party. This, it seems, is the "truce" that Griffin had laid out on Thursday night. West and East, North and South should remain apart; Christian from Muslim, rich from poor. "We would give them foreign aid on the condition that they would remain in their own country," adds Baillie – the humane side of the BNP's compact.
Smeaton, as far as many in Glasgow North East seems to be concerned, laid into one of “them”, a foreigner, a Muslim, a sponging, treacherous incomer. In the Alive and Kicking centre this fact alone seems to accord him a gold star: “I collect my pension every Thursday and the post office is queued out with Africans and Asians and God knows who, stuffing their pockets with notes,” says one of the centre’s tea dancers. “This isn’t our country any more. So I applaud John for standing up to those people.” The sentiment is echoed widely and leaves you wondering how he would have fared in Glasgow North East had the terrorists he banjoed been white.Therefore this particular voter seems to be conflating the issues of immigration, asylum, terrorism and race, and John Smeaton seems to be the winner. Thus if disillusioned voters in the constituency want to send a message to Labour regarding immigration and asylum then Mr Smeaton could provide the conduit for such votes rather than the BNP. Of course, the difference is perhaps that the BNP's candidate is overtly anti-asylum while John Smeaton's position on the matter is unclear, but the latter has apparently been making anti-immigration noises in his Sun column.
However, if the race-oriented issues do feature heavily in Glasgow North East then it seems likely that if the lack of nuance demonstrated in the quote above is typical then John Smeaton will be garner the related votes in view of his 'celebrity' status and the BNP's relatively low profile in Scotland, although last week's Question Time debacle may have went some way to reverse this.
Meanwhile, the wider issue of Scotland and immigration is examined by Jenny Hjul in her Sunday Times column, in which she compares the relative success of the BNP in England compared to north of the border, and concludes:
The white supremacists’ failure to gain a bigger foothold in Scotland may say something about Scottish tolerance. But the far more plausible explanation is the much lower level of immigration here than in England. The deprived communities of Scotland have not responded to the politics of hate, as have their English counterparts, because they have not, on the whole, been exposed to mass immigration.However, Ms Hjul then goes on to portray immigration as an unalloyed good for Scotland and says it needs to be encouraged, the only problem being that the SNP are getting in the way (quelle surprise!). But having opened her piece by claiming that the "politics of hate" have failed to gain a toehold in Scotland due to limited immigration, she thereafter ignores what effect encouraging immigration would have on this.