MacShane If I had to draw up a list for reasons why the BNP are gaining ground my list would be topped by Labour sleaze, Labour's failure to control our borders and then Labour's record on crime, housing and poverty.  But apparently I'm wrong.  Tory European policy is apparently to blame.

This is what Denis MacShane MP has written for Comment is free:

"Slowly, the European election is coming to the boil. The Observer rightly highlighted the worry that the BNP will make a breakthrough. It was the Greens in 1989, UKIP in 2004, so perhaps in 2009 it will be the BNP. The Tories have prepared the ground with their constant xenophobic attacks on Europe."

WARSI Sayeeda Tory Community Cohesion spokesperson Sayeeda Warsi reacted furiously to the Labour MP for Rotherham's intervention (from MailOnline):

"It's much easier to blame somebody else than address the failings and shortcomings of the current government, which means some voters feel that a fringe party is an attractive alternative. I know more than anybody else what it's like to campaign against the BNP. They got 6,000 votes in my home town of Dewsbury at the last election. Labour either shout and scream that everybody who votes BNP is a racist or alternatively they try to blame us for raising legitimate issues to which they have no answer. It used to be immigration, now it's Europe. Most people who vote for the BNP aren't racist. I accept that they feel so frustrated by the sort of politics they see today that they feel the only way to be heard is to vote for a racist party. They would never want to have them in power. It's their way of giving the other parties a kick up the backside."

There are signs that Labour may be using the BNP to hide their own problems (see John Rentoul today).  Something to watch.

Tim Montgomerie