were summarily cancelled when Labour "refused to share a platform" with
I suspect the BNP were probably reluctant to share a platform with
the party of Damian McBride. However, Labour's stance, replicated
elsewhere, has denied electors the opportunity to question and assess
local candidates, arguably threatens the democratic process and does
nothing to counter the rise of the far right.
The "non engagement" policy has been a dismal failure in Dagenham
and did little to counter the BNP in Swanley. With the BNP polling
roundabout 6% across London, they are in danger of winning a seat in
the European elections. With the BNP drawing votes from both Labour
and Tory supporters, all parties need to re-examine their approach.
Ignoring the far right is no longer an option. We need to rebut
their rhetoric with facts; we may agree that their policies are
socially repugnant, economically illiterate and morally vacuous, but if
they are achieving vote shares of up to 40% in some areas we are not
getting that message across.
It is also absurd that one candidate, from any party, can withdraw
and sabotage the whole process whilst the rest look on impotently. If
the hustings are arranged in a fair and transparent manner, they should
go ahead, despite "posturing" withdrawals. The idea that a debate may
only proceed on terms acceptable to Labour, or anyone else, is another
step along the road towards the supra-state, where we are told what to
do and what not to do, what to eat and what not to eat, what to think
and say and what we cannot think or say.
I would far rather engage the odious far right – and far left – in
robust debate than leave them unchallenged to propagate their lies and
foment social unrest. If Labour can tolerate Islamic radicals, they
should tolerate all views. It will then be up to us to strip away the
rhetoric and reveal the BNP to be the hollow man.
Wanstead Conservatives are holding an action day this Saturday, 18th April, in support of Alex Wilson, the Conservative candiate at the by-election. Anyone wanting to help should meet at Wanstead station at 10am or email Paul Canal for further details.