Vitriol-throwing - and throwing the election

There are things not to like about the BNP, but they do enliven British political life. Ever since they started to emerge from the fringes a few years ago, partly through their own efforts and partly because immigration has become so unignorable (yet is still being almost ignored by mainstream politicians), they have afforded vast amusement to journalists bored by the Punch-and-Judy pantomime of “Labour” versus “Conservative”, with the “Liberal Democrats” in the role of the little dog that tries to run away with the sausages.

As David Cameron admitted in his New Year Speech to a largely unimpressed crowd of constituency activists:

Whether you’re Conservative or Labour or Liberal Democrat, you’re motivated by pretty much the same progressive aims.

Very true – and very boring. What joy then for jaded journos to find a new KK-kid on the block, a party which is a little rough around the edges and seems sometimes to delight in giving brand-new hostages to fortune to add to all the older ones – a party that can arouse gales of passionate (and sometimes snobbish) hatred and make “everyone” feel morally superior.

How they have delighted in digging up all the discreditable things they can find in the BNP’s past and present, and dwelling at luxuriant length on the sometimes half-baked ideas, the “skinheads sitting around venting hate” (as one agog tabloid reported), the party’s administrative failings, fallings-out and leaks, the court-cases and the egg-throwing. The election of two MEPs and now, the candidacy of party leader Nick Griffin for the seat of Barking & Dagenham (a seat they might win), has not confirmed the party as a mainstream contender but merely opened new sluice gates of sludge. Politics can be a dirty game (think of Hogarth’s election paintings) but the rhetoric is positively cloacal when compared with the bland postwar political platitudes about “Right Hon Members” and bickering about points of procedural detail.

According to the BNP website, Barking’s Labour MP wants to “run the BNP out of Barking”, while the Ludicrous Demoprat candidate has said he is only standing to give himself the satisfaction of campaigning against Griffin. And on 28 February David Cameron (inheritor, be it remembered, of Disraeli, Salisbury and Churchill) cast petrol recklessly onto the flames by calling Griffin “a ghastly piece of filth” – seriously un-Prime Ministerial terminology. He added, in what the Daily Telegraph’s Ed West called “a Haringey council remake of Richard II”:

This country, our country, this tolerant, brilliant, compassionate, multi-racial country… This modern Conservative party has made its choice and is never going back.

That is, unless the Tories lose the election, as now seems entirely possible – the latest YouGov polls show the Tories’ 17 point lead of last year has shrunk to just two in many of their targeted marginal seats, which if replicated on election day (likely to be 6 May) would give them fewer seats than Labour in the next parliament. Even if the Tories do win, it is likely to be by only the narrowest of margins, and many are predicting a hung parliament. Either defeat or a just-about victory would be a serious blow for “Call Me Dave” and his too clever-by-half coterie.