The entire European Union Parliament is being elected at the moment - and that is interesting - but I’m personally glued to the British results broadcast on the BBC. British politics is a mess right now due to an expenses scandal in Parliament, support for the ruling Labour Party is collapsing, and all hell is generally breaking loose. And tonight - the craziness has reached a head. A lot of the news is good, but some of it is actually scary.
On the good side, the Conservatives are wiping the floor with everyone, topped the polls in the Labour heartland of Wales for the first time in history. Many results are yet to come in, but Labor is currently fighting for second against the UK Independence Party (UKIP), a Euroskeptic party that sits decidedly to the right of the Conservatives. By the end of the night, I would not be surprised to see Labour in third or even fourth (depending on the performance of the Liberal Democrats, who currently sit fourth).
However, there is also some news - as the racist British National Party (BNP) has won it’s first ever seat in the European Parliament. The BNP has benefitted from the wave of anti-establishment sentiment (which is also carrying UKIP), and while UKIP is mainstream protest vote, the BNP is unfortunately picking up the people who want to flip the finger to the all of the mainstream parties. And while I am all for throwing bums out, I am certainly not for electing parties who only allow whites to join (which is BNP policy).
The BNP breakthrough may also provide a lesson to those of us in the U.S. who are interested in our own experiments in anti-establishment sentiment - the “Tea Party Movement”. We should be more than happy to embrace the mainstream of this movement (independent, Glenn Beck-style libertarians - who I would say are our equivalent of UKIP). However, we need to be very vigilant in making sure that we don’t allow hard-core wackos to ride the wave. Otherwise, we will wind up dealing with our own versions of the BNP.
Luckily, as we have a two party, first-past-the-post system - we will never see racist fringe parties elected here (the BNP made it through via a “proportional representation” system where seats are allotted based on percentage of the vote). However, we still should be watching out for nut jobs who wish too use “tea parties” and other such events to gain legitimacy.