Oona King

Sunday, 29 September 2002 11:10

Who's afraid of the BNP?

I support electoral reform on a point of principle. I don't support it because it means my party wins more seats - although it's likely the left would gain. I support it because I believe in representative democracy. But in making the case for reform it's important to consider whether 'fair votes' could let in the far right. This is a legitimate concern for all on the left who want a more democratic electoral system.

What I'm about to say isn't easy to write, not least because I value my colleagues in the electoral reform movement. But here goes: it's quite easy for a group of white people who have never experienced the terror tactics of BNP supporters or the sharp end of race attacks, to decide that the threat of the extreme right under PR is 'exaggerated'. Where I live in London's East End, the prospect of the far right winning power under any electoral system is extremely frightening. The death-threats I've received from extreme-right groups have done nothing to make me think they need a helping hand. And so I understand why many, if not most, people from ethnic minorities instinctively react against a PR system which might be seen as 'giving them a platform'. Let's be clear, the far-right has a profoundly anti-democratic message which strikes at the core of our democratic society. We must (and we do) impose limits on them peddling their vicious xenophobia.

Published in Electoral Reform
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