In Britain, a Far-Right Push Threatens Tony Blair ; Thursday's Vote for Local Councils Will Gauge Views on Labour Party's Government and Immigration Policy

By Mark Rice-Oxley and James Brandon Correspondents of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, May 4, 2006 | Go to article overview

In Britain, a Far-Right Push Threatens Tony Blair ; Thursday's Vote for Local Councils Will Gauge Views on Labour Party's Government and Immigration Policy


Mark Rice-Oxley and James Brandon Correspondents of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


When it comes to local elections in Britain, most people usually look the other way. Town hall votes are often low-key affairs, thrilling only to political junkies and voters passionate about speed limits, garbage collection, and street lights.

Not so this year. Thursday's vote has taken on far broader significance than usual because of two major developments: the deepening woes of Tony Blair's Labour government and the sudden emergence of the far-right British National Party (BNP) threatening an electoral breakthrough.

The results of votes for more than 4,000 councillors in 176 districts will be scrutinized more closely than usual. Will voters, dismayed at a sequence ofgovernment blunders, desert Labour en masse, putting pressure on Mr. Blair to advance his long-promised retirement? Will the new Conservative leader, David Cameron, make his mark in his first election at the helm?

And will the BNP, like other anti-immigration parties elsewhere in Europe, achieve a historically high vote?

"I can't see there being a good result for us on Thursday night," says Ian Gibson, a Labour member of parliament (MP). "People are very edgy about the whole thing, about minority parties like the BNP winning votes."

"Local elections are regarded as a test of the popularity of the major parties, and this time the government has struggled to spin its way out of its troubles," adds John Curtice, a politics professor at Strathclyde University.

Those troubles have involved charges of incompetence and scandal that have stalked Blair's government in recent weeks. After a row over allegations that his party rewarded its donors with seats in the House of Lords, Blair's government is now struggling to explain why, despite talking tough on law and order, it allowed more than 1,000 foreign criminals to remain on Britain's streets, instead of deporting them after they were released from prison.

The admission has threatened to cost Home Secretary Charles Clarke his job. A second senior minister, John Prescott, is also under fire for conducting an extra-marital affair on government premises.

"If Labour does worse than it did in 2004, when it had its worst local elections in living memory, then that is a sign of trouble," says Mr. Curtice.

One party hoping to cash in on the disarray is the BNP. One Labour MP from east London, Margaret Hodge, admitted recently that the party was making big inroads in her constituency, where it won 17 percent in last year's general election.

"When I knock on doors I say to people, 'are you tempted to vote BNP?' and many, many, many - 8 out of 10 of the white families - say 'yes,' " she told The Daily Telegraph.

"The BNP is now doing far better than any previous far-right party," says Stuart Weir, co-author of a recent report "The BNP: The Roots Of Its Appeal."

"The idea that Britons are inoculated against far-right parties by some sort of tolerance gene is very complacent."

Across Europe similar parties have achieved widespread electoral success by appealing to working class concerns, winning votes for calling for more affordable housing, castigating the European Union, and playing on fears of growing extremism among Europe's ever- expanding Muslim populations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

In Britain, a Far-Right Push Threatens Tony Blair ; Thursday's Vote for Local Councils Will Gauge Views on Labour Party's Government and Immigration Policy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.