What to make of the BNP's success in Northern England last night? Regrettable, even infuriating for sure. A consequence of this government's failure and, it might as well be said, proportional representation? Absolutely. The beginning of the end of British democracy, now liable to be swamped by a wave of neo-national socialists? Hardly.
I'm with Chris Dillow on this: paying so much attention to the BNP is unfair on the 98% of the electorate who didn't vote for the BNP. (Or, if you prefer, the 94% of those who did vote and refused to back the BNP). It's interesting to observe that when the English electorate had the chance to vote in elections that actually matter to the fabled "ordinary, hard-working families" they declined to let the BNP anywhere near power. Nick Griffin's mob won just 3 of more than 2000 council seats in England last week. That seems something worth bearing in mind to balance the fretting and hand-wringing that has acompanied their success in the European parliamentary elections.
And that success, I suspect, will be a minor blip, unlikely to be repeated. (It's notable that this "breakthrough" election saw the BNP only barely increase its share of the vote from 2004). The way folk are carrying on you'd think that the BNP posed some mortal threat to British democracy. But they could hardly be more insignificant and the only way they can be introduced into the mainstream is if politicians in other parties start pandering to the BNP and its issues. That in turn would grant them vastly more influence than their tiny level of support would otherwise warrant.
So, their success is regrettable but it's not the end of the world, nor even the beginning of its end, either. Provided, that is, people keep their heads...
For more, you could see the Daily Mash's verdict.
[Thanks to ASB and JPM for the Mash heads-up.]