Thursday, 12 November 2009

Glasgow NE result

Waiting for the final result but looking like it's been a successful night for Labour in my own constituency of Glasgow NE, with indications that the seat has been held convincingly.

However, the sad reality is that the main story of the night is likely to be the fact of the BNP coming third, if predictions are accurate. Whilst the turn-out is appallingly low and therefore the result shouldn't be extrapolated too far, it is the case that this result would be a historic change to the Scottish political scene.

Areas such as Glasgow NE possess many of the social and economic barriers and challenges which provide potentially fertile breeding grounds for the BNP. Up until now, however, the party has been held back by the historical reality that it had never had support in Scotland, being seen as an 'English' party. Retaining their deposit for the first time in their history in Scotland would have been a breakthrough in itself; taking third above the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats marks their arrival as a realistic and legitimate member of the Scottish environment.

One of the most depressing aspects of it all is that the argument is still trundled out that Scotland doesn't have a problem with racism, that somehow it is an English problem. This is completely false and doesn't just ignore the problem, it accentuates it.

It is crucial now that the mainstream parties take on the BNP and crush them utterly before they can create a irremovable presence. The oxygen of Question Time has fuelled their growth, but all of the mainstream parties also have to bear the responsibility for failing to stop the BNP in the past decade and in failing the electorate by not responding to their needs and fears. With this result, should the horror turn out to be true, the BNP have a massive opportunity to try and create the same possibilities for themselves that they have in certain areas of England. The parties have to engage with the public, to stop taking them for granted and to actually debate immigration, acknowledging peoples' concerns but also outlining the benefits it brings to the country. Moreover, we need to challenge the myths which surround the issue and which allow the BNP to play easy games.

I am proud that William Bain has been elected as MP for Glasgow NE (I will look stupid if that turns out wrong now!) and I know that he will be an excellent public servant for the constituency. But I am also embarrassed that we in this area will now be an entry in the history books for some of the worst reasons. We need to make sure that this becomes a one-off protest, rather than the start of a new politics in Scotland.

No comments: