THE FACT that BNP leader Nick Griffin chose standing by the banks of the Thames in Thurrock, the day after his appearance on Question Time, was of considerable significance to the politicians and constituents of Thurrock.
Griffin sees Thurrock as a natural homeland for his party, away from a London he described as no longer British.
He may well stand for election next year. At the same time, Thurrock BNP will no doubt, for the third year in a row put out a full slate on candidates in the Thurrock Council elections.
What chances do they have?
In 2007 and 2008, they gained over 25% of the votes cast. Emma Colgate gained one of the Tilbury wards and quite a few of her colleagues came close in other wards.
Things have changes since then. The recession being one of them, growing disaffection with Labour being another. There are also many people who do not like the growth of Black and Minority Ethnic groups into the borough. Take it from us, scratch the surface at many disputes about the Green Belt and you will find it is actually the Black Belt that people are talking about.
There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t hear a conversation about immigration on the streets of Thurrock. All it takes is for all those people to decide to give them a try.
There are many members of the white working class, around the borough, who feel disenfranchised and emasculated; who feel that the Labour Party no longer represents them. In many ways they are like the white working class Liberal voters in the twenties and early thirties who came to the same conclusion and turned to Labour, signalling the death of the Liberals as a major force.
The concern is that the “right wing vote” in Thurrock will be divided up by Conservative, UKIP and the BNP. Not necessarily so.
The Thurrock Tories have to worry as well. With massive job cuts looming in the public sector including Thurrock Council, they will have a job convincing voters that it is the fault of Central Government. With the schools contract scandal still bubbling, the standards in Thurrock Primary schools report due and the Vertex contract story also lined up, they also will either hope people will buy the “Blame Brown” line.
Of course, the BNP may just have to sit and wait for Proportional Representation to come along. Then, at a fair guess, 15 to 18 BNP councillors will stride into the chamber. It is probably then that Labour and Tory councillors will twig. It will make an interesting headline in the council newspaper.
As for Question Time: It was a “witch-hunt” and badly orchestrated. Griffin appeared almost delirious to be there. At the same time, Jack Straw was hardly the man Labour should have put up against him. BBC got 8 million viewers and the BNP got an opinion poll bounce.
In many ways, at least it has got people talking about politics. Perhaps there should be a schools debate. Perhaps, Cllr Colgate should go to Gateway Academy to answer a Q and A session. Now there is an idea.
It is hard to have a dialogue with the BNP without being labelled “Red Scum” or threatened with violence. Hey, it comes with the territory Even former Editor of the Thurrock Gazette and now Editor of the Essex Enquirer, Neil Speight kept being labelled Labour/Islamist/Communist stooge and he is set to stand for council for the Conservatives!
Perhaps this is a time for all the parties to make a stand, to put their differences aside and fight the forces of fascism. This debate is fairly irrelevant in many many towns and cities but not Thurrock.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.