By Tim Montgomerie
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A ComRes poll for tomorrow's People is another sign that the Eurosceptic, centre right vote is becoming worryingly divided. ComRes give the following vote shares for next year's European elections (I've put the gain on last time's results in brackets)...
We know, of course, that UKIP won't get anything like 23% in the following year's general election but the Tory challenge is to get UKIP down to something close to the 3% that they won in 2010 or they'll be the difference between Conservatives holding seats and losing them. All of the evidence suggests that UKIP is taking many more votes from the Conservative Party than Labour. While Europe isn't the only or even the top issue of concern to UKIP voters it is the party's fundamental purpose. Unless Cameron commits to an In/Out vote in his looming speech I can't see how we are going to begin to cap the Farage phenomenon. If tmrw's Mail on Sunday is a clue to Cameron's mood (see right) I'm not sure he's in the right place to tackle UKIP. It may be why George Osborne might be positioning himself to be the sceptic to Cameron's enthusiast.
* The only good news in those figures is that, as expected, Britain should no longer be sending left-wing racists to the European Parliament.
By Joseph Willits
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In an address to the European Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, Tory party Chairman Baroness Warsi spoke of the ever increasing need to tackle antisemitism. Jewish people, she said, "are at once targeted by the far left and the far right. And they are at once branded superior and inferior by those who seek to attack them".
Perhaps the most crucial point to be made from Warsi's speech, is that prejudice and discrimination is only truly overcome, when it is fought by communities together, rather than simply from within a community. Warsi said:
“If we really want to defeat racism and bigotry, if we’re serious about social harmony and if we’re actually going to destroy the scourge of antisemitism in this country, then we need all faiths and none to stand up against it, united."
Warsi crucially cast her speech as a Muslim woman, saying that "we must drain the poison of antisemitism from our country. As a Muslim, for me, Islamophobia is personal. But for me, antisemitism is just as important."
I know, I know, I know that I'm adding to the oxygen of publicity but why are we giving so much publicity to the dangerous fruitcake Terry Jones? Jones is the attention-seeking preacher from Florida who threatened to organise a public burning of the Qur'an. He's the worst possible advert for America and Christianity and he has a flock of less than fifty people. Where is the responsible journalism that decides he doesn't merit the headlines he won on this morning's Today programme as well as an interview at 8.30am. This latest blaze of publicity arises becauses Jones has been invited to come to Britain by the extremist English Defence League (the new home of BNP types).
The Home Secretary is under pressure to forbid Mr Jones from coming to Britain and probably will.
Archbishop Cranmer makes the case for allowing Jones into Britain... "When a nation which values freedom of speech begins to ban religious leaders from entering the country because the Government does not agree with their theology, there is no freedom at all... Pastor Terry Jones is really not worth bothering with. And the more you campaign to oppose him, the more you raise his unworthy profile, elevate his absurd theology and make him a martyr to his own petty and simplistic cause."
Labour MP Jon Cruddas makes the case for a ban... "Just look at the mayhem and disorder that occurs every time his sponsors in the English Defence League (EDL) take to our streets. That's without the toxic ingredient of a man who proposed tossing one of the world's most widely read religious texts on to a bonfire. Extremists of every persuasion will turn his visit into a jamboree of division and hate... The people who pay the price for Jones's right to exercise his "free speech" are never the liberal elite. It's always the working communities of places like Bradford, Luton and Peterborough who have to endure the boots and bricks and the bottles."
On this occasion I'm with Mr Cruddas. The judgment isn't easy but the combination of Jones and the EDL represents a sufficient threat to public order that Theresa May should stop Mr Jones coming to Britain. Our police have better things to do with their time.
By Paul Goodman
I highlighted yesterday some important elements of James Bethell's paper about the five million ANTI-voters, and want today to answer the question: "Should the Conservatives make a special pitch for them?"
It's worth asking at the start whether political parties should make a special pitch for any group of voters at all. My answer to that question is "yes". Politics is partly about trying to do the right thing, and partly about taking people with you. The first objective can't be achieved without the second - at least, in sufficient number. The second objective is empty without the first. So, for example, I believe that the Party should be making a special pitch to "Sid's heirs" (what some people call "The Squeezed Middle", and are more neutrally labelled the C!s and C2s) through a programme of controlling immigration, providing homes, improving schools, selling shares, and cutting tax.
Would this platform also appeal to the ANTIs? The answer is, in significant part, is no.
By Paul Goodman
Media stories move fast. A compelling piece of research, suitably presented to catch the attention of news editors, can be here today, gone tomorrow. There's a chance of this happening with James Bethell's paper on the five million ANTI-voters - or, as Tim prefers to call them, the pound-stretchers - which was covered recently on this site and in national newspapers. I've had the chance to find some time to read the document (some journalists will have only had the chance to skim it), and believe that it's worth asking: should the Conservatives make a special pitch for the ANTIs - and, if so, how?
James Bethell of NothingBritish.com has just completed extensive research into the phenomenon of the millions of voters walking away from the mainstream parties. Most of what is estimated to be an army of five million have drifted to not voting at all but also, in increasing numbers, they have gone to nationalist parties, like UKIP and the BNP. I should immediately say what James says; UKIP and BNP are very different parties in that UKIP is not a racist party. They are nonetheless part of the same phenomenon.
James organised a major national poll by YouGov that compared the views of three thousand UKIP, BNP and mainstream voters. He also conducted ten focus groups in different parts of the country with the voter groups, including NW Leicestershire, London, Rotherham, Staines and Stoke*.
The analysis uncovered four key characteristics of this group which numbers approximately five million:
These voters are probably too raw in attitude for Ed Miliband in his confused search for the "squeezed middle" but they are voters without a home. Cameron has an opportunity to win them back and in his immigration and welfare policies he has made a very good start. The Coalition's crime, Europe and tax policies are probably going in the wrong direction, however.
The strategists in Cameron's circle rightly believe that there's a danger in wooing this category of voters because they might erode the progress that the party has made within 'Liberal Britain'. I would agree that the danger is real but I would also argue that no centre right party has ever won a majority without making big inroads into this 'pound-stretching class'. Thatcher had her Essex Man. Reagan had his 'Reagan Democrats'. John Howard had his Battlers. Stephen Harper won over the 'Tim Horton Voters'. ToryDiary recently noted their common characteristics. Cameron should study James Bethell's research and ConHome will be looking at it in a little more detail over coming days. In the meantime I've wrttten about the army of five million ANTIs in today's Daily Mail.
* Thanks for funding the research must go to Richard Smith, the businessman and philanthropist behind the 55 Tufton Street project which has gathered a number of centre right think tanks under the same roof.
7.15pm: James Forsyth on the ANTI voter
By Paul Goodman
If a teacher who's a BNP member breaks the law, he should be prosecuted and sentenced. And if he's in breach of the conduct that should govern teachers, he should be subject to the appropriate disciplinary penalties. The Guardian reports a story involving a BNP teacher this morning - the tale of Adam Walker, who was taken to a disciplinary panel this summer (and, as it happens, cleared).
There's clearly a case for ensuring that teachers don't engage in "extremist activity" - the phrase used by Michael Gove, who told the paper that he intends to pursue the matter. However, taking specific action against people who participate in extremist activity shouldn't be confused with a general bar on BNP members with regard to teaching. Like it or loathe it (and I fall into the latter category), the BNP remains a legally constituted political party, for all its trouble with the electoral commission and the courts.
An independent enquiry carried out under the last Government reached broadly this conclusion, declaring that a ban would be "taking a very large sledgehammer to crack a minuscule nut", and "a profoundly poltical act". It was right. Taking specific action against illegal organisations or extremist actions is one thing. Slapping a blanket teaching ban on members of a legally constituted political party is quite another.
Sajjad Karim, Tory MEP for the Conservatives, has said that UKIP's proposed burkha ban is "un-British". This morning's Times reported that the UK Independence Party wants to ban the burkha and the niqab - "claiming they affront British values."
In an editorial The Times slams UKIP:
Mr Karim, a defector from the Liberal Democrats, said this in a press release released on behalf of all Tory MEPs:
"What is inconsistent with British values is picking on people quietly going about their business in religious garb of their own choice and banning it. If UKIP properly understood this country, it would appreciate that. There are Islamists who doubtless wish to ban Eurosceptics wearing tweed jackets over v-neck jumpers and checked shirts. And The Times would defend UKIP against such calls because freedom to worship, and freedom of speech, is the British value that matters above all others."
"To ban a symbol of someone's faith both in public and private is fundamentally un-British. Our country's tradition of tolerance and multi-culturalism are among its greatest strengths. All UKIP will create is ill-will, greater separation and a feeling that people who do not look like Lord Pearson or Nigel Farage are somehow not truly British. There are genuine concerns about race relations in parts of the UK, but they will only be overcome by mutual understanding, not ignorance."
From day one of his leadership of UKIP Lord Pearson has set out to add scepticism about the Islamification of Britain to UKIP's core theme of Euroscepticism. The tactic is designed to counter the BNP's infiltration of the UKIP vote.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has floated the idea of a burkha ban.
Talking to Radio 4 yesterday, Michael Howard challenged the mainstream parties to do more to challenge the BNP. These were his words:
"I think I am still the only party leader who went to Burnley and devoted an entire speech to confronting the BNP and saying that we've really got to take them on and we've got to take their arguments on. I don't think we can afford to be complacent. There are one or two constituencies where they are said to be a potent threat. I think you have to take them on, you have to confront them and you have to expose the appalling evil of their arguments."
I completely agree with the former Tory leader and that's one reason why James Bethell and I established the cross-party 'Nothing British About The BNP' campaign.
A key reason why the Left is failing to combat the BNP is that it won't discuss issues of importance like immigration. Senior left-wing activists have even said (ludicrously) that to discuss immigration is to hand the BNP a victory.
A consultation paper from the broadcasting regulator Ofcom proposes that minority parties such as the BNP be given more Party Election Broadcasts and that those broadcasts could be shown during peak viewing hours.
“The Government’s broadcasting quango has lost the plot. In its blind pursuit of ‘equality’, it wants to give the oxygen of publicity to extremists who do not have substantive electoral support. The public will be appalled that more airtime will given to the British National Party to peddle their propaganda and undermine community relations. Elections should be open, fair and accessible, but parties without broad-based public backing shouldn’t be given extra state support.”
Meanwhile, The Sun has revealed that Nick Griffin is happy to give up Gibraltar. He apparently offered the surrender in a bid to "suck up to other European extremists". James Bethell of NothingBritish.com commented: "Nick Griffin talks about protecting our national interest but he would surrender our sovereignty to Spanish fascists in a heartbeat. The only flag that should be flying over the Rock is the Union Jack."
On NothingBritish.com, Andrew Rosindell MP said:
“Nick Griffin has once again proved that there is nothing British about the BNP with his recent comments over his Party’s position on Gibraltar. By stating that he would be happy to see the Spanish flag flying over the Rock he has effectively sold out 30,000 British citizens. The people of Gibraltar is not Spanish. It is British."