Friday, 6 November 2009

BNP set to steal Smeato's thunder?

In view of my recent post about immigration and its possible impact on the Glasgow North East by-election - 'Smeato set to steal BNP's thunder?' - a piece in the Times makes for interesting reading. Angus Macleod's news article says that the mainstream parties are worried about the possibility of the BNP coming third in next week's poll.

This would indeed be a shocking result - although the possibility is dismissed as "slim" by polling analyst Professor John Curtice - but the figures suggest that it's not as far-fetched as it might appear at first glance.

Of course, for various reasons the figures from the 2005 Westminster contest are unhelpful, but the European election results from earlier this year can perhaps offer some assistance. While Labour and the SNP were way ahead of the other parties, the significant others polled as follows:

BNP - 545
Conservative - 561
Lib Dems - 533
Greens - 822
SSP - 287
Socialist Labour - 446
UKIP - 618

Thus while the Greens were fairly comfortably ahead of the pack, it would clearly not require a miracle for the BNP to take third place, and the Times article mentions the party's high profile following leader Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time, together with the prominence of the asylum issue in the constituency - although the latter point would presumably have been a factor at the time of the Euro poll earlier this year, the Griffin controversy could have galvanised the issue.

However, Angus Macleod doesn't mention UKIP, who aren't standing in the by-election. But since they polled more than the BNP then it might be expected that Griffin's party could benefit substantially from the lack of a UKIP candidate.

Of course, this also ignores the Smeato factor, and my previous post suggested that although John Smeaton's precise views on immigration seem to be an unknown quantity - beyond his claim that the system should be "fairer" - statements he's made in his Sun column could be construed as anti-immigration (despite also making positive noises about immigrants), and thus appeal to some who might otherwise vote BNP. Most obviously, in relation to the criminal element among immigrants:
We are now being flooded by foreigners from dangerous cultures where life is cheap. [...] Is it any wonder when our courts are full of scumbags from around the world.
Thus I suspect that this kind of thing, together with Mr Smeaton's high profile and more general appeal, will win the day over the BNP and secure third place for the Jury Team's candidate.

The bookies certainly seem to think so, although Ladbrokes seem to be offering only 33/1 on a Smeato win as opposed to 8/1 when his candidature was announced.


Wardog said...

Given it's a Labour stronghold as was the North of England, surely questions must be asked about the type of people who support Labour.

Once again the division between new & old labour is laid bare, with millions still voting for the 'workers party' despite not even knowing it's actual policies.

Indy said...

I hate to say this but I wouldn't be completely surprised if that happened.

I don't think it is a question of the type of people that support Labour so much as the type of environment they live in, the type of poverty they live in, the type of education they have and so on. As I said earlier you are talking about a lot of voters without much formal education who get most of their politcal news and analysis from the Daily Record and the Sun.

Additionally it has been a pretty poor campaign in terms of the quality of debate and the quality of a lot of the election literature. Apparently Labour are putting out a leaflet to every household this weekend which is solely an attack on David Kerr. The SNP is also putting out a leaflet to every household, I don't know what is in it but I hope it will be a bit more positive. Whatever the case, it has not been a good campaign for anyone.

I don't think John Smeaton will get anywhere - haven't found anyone yet who says they are voting for him. He has no actual campaign on the ground, not that I have seen anyway.

Aurora said...

I hope this is a scare story in order to scare the core labour supports to turn out against a possible BNP tidal wave...
those people considering BNP need to remember what the party stands for.
This campaign has been rather disappointing on all fronts.
Smeato is abit of a tricky one to vote for, its clear he means well, but he is unwilling to comment on anything slightly controversial in case it hampers his chances.
This isnt acceptable. The constintuents need to see who they are voting for. If you listen to him talk about his policies, its about as informed as anybody might hear down the 'local' after a couple of pints. lol.

Stuart Winton said...

Thanks for the observations, particularly regarding John Smeaton - I still think (from my armchair) he'll get a fair skelp of votes, but if your analyses is correct then he could bomb totally. It'll be interesting to see whether or not the celebrity factor alone is enough to garner a few votes.

As for the BNP/Labour factor, presumably this is unchanged from the time of the Euro vote, except perhaps for Nick Griffin's recent publicity.

Whichever way the top two go I think the battle for third place downwards is more interesting, with half a dozen of them a hundred votes or so from the 500 mark in May, and that's before Tommy Sheridan and John Smeaton came into the equation.

Allan said...

I would actualy be more interested in Sheridan's polling figures. Im not really sure the BNP will do that well, and other comentators have pointed up Smeato's lack of a campaign. Sheridan, to a lot of people - mostly former Labour voters who have woken up and smelled the coffee - does stand for something. He may finnish best of the rest.

Wardog - i suspect many people vote New Labour because they still don't trust the "Tartan Tories" - see the spirit of 1979 still lives on.

Stuart Winton said...

Allan, in the past I would have agreed with you, but in view of the perjury case and Sheridan's increasingly chequered political career then perhaps his image has become a bit too tarnished.

However, given that it looks like Labour will hold the seat then clearly voters can be tolerant bunch, so you could well be correct.

But if I had to put money on it then I would still go for Smeato in third place, but thankfully I'm not a betting man!

Sophia said...

the BNP will never attract the same voters that Smeato does! there is not the widespead problems of immigration here that BNP feed off, its disgusting to put Smeato and BNP in the same bracket!

Stuart Winton said...

Sophia, indeed I wasn't trying to bracket Smeato with the BNP, but what it does seem to be the case that some voters will channel an anti-immigrant ethos into one of the two, and to an extent it would be preferable if Smeato was the beneficiary rather than the BNP.

Reading the various articles (including this in this morning's Times) there does seem to be an immigration/asylum issue in the constituency and thus a home for this viewpoint. Of course, the vast majority won't be voting either for Smeato or the BNP, but the interesting question is where the votes will go.

And although the issue nationally is usually less about asylum than (economic) immigration, in Glasgow NE it seems to be the other way round, presumably because asylum is particularly pertinent to the area.

Please recall what was reported in an in-depth Sunday Times article a couple of weeks ago:

"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."

meg said...

I don't think that Smeaton's votes will be coming from pro BNP voters. There are a lot of disaffected Labour voters and I think that is where most of his support will come from.

I would agree with Stuart's third place prediction. I don't think Sheridan will do as well as he would like.

And I really think people should be more worried about newspapers whipping up support for the main 2 candidates on the basis of a fake BNP threat. I dislike political scaremongering.

Stuart Winton said...

Thanks for that meg.

I suppose that since the media is portraying the BNP as battling for third place then it could encouarge people to vote for the other candidates vying for third place rather than boosting Labour and the SNP, both of whom everyone expects to be well out in front of the others.