Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Labour talks up the BNP in Stoke

Not all is well with the Labour Party in Stoke-on-Trent.

The row over the selection of media don and Mandelson protege Tristram Hunt for Stoke-on-Trent Central is well documented, with the secretary of the constituency party now standing as an Independent against him.

Hunt, incidentally, is on Twitter as @hunt4stoke. I asked there the other evening whether this meant he was having trouble finding the constituency again.

More serious is the situation in Stoke-on-Trent South, where the sitting MP is using the familiar Labour trick of talking up the BNP.

The BBC News website quotes a letter Robert Flello has written (though it does not say whom he sent it to):

"I believe that councillors Terry Follows and Dr Zulfigar Ali [his Indpendent and Liberal Democrat opponents] are good men who work hard, but a vote for them is effectively a vote for the BNP.

"Independents and Liberal Democrats cannot win in Stoke-on-Trent, but they can take enough votes from Labour's traditional support to let the racist BNP sneak through."

"The only way to stop the BNP is to vote Labour."

I first became aware of Labour using this tactic in a Tower Hamlets council by-election then in the 1990s. The effect it had there was to give voters disaffected from the main parties the impression that the most effective way of getting back at them would be to vote BNP. And the BNP duly won the by-election.

Given the widespread anti politics mood at present, it is extremely dangerous for a sitting MP to tell his constituents that the best way to get rid of him is to vote for the BNP.

And, given the arrogance and poor judgment that Flello displays in his letter, you can hardly blame them from wanting to get rid of him.

So not a jolly good Flello then. If the BNP does well in Stoke, he will have to bear a large part of the blame.

No comments: