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July 29, 2004



It's obvious Oliver.

Dick Taverne won the by-election, therefore at that time he was one of the main three parties. Therefore this is the best showing ever by a party that wasn't in the top 3.

Simple. I'll send my CV off to Respect now.


Excellent. Having soiled your reputation with an ill-informed attack on Paul Foot, you latch onto the first pedantic little point you can find. Might I also point out, since we are nit-picking that this statement,

"Fringe political parties almost invariably claim that they are disadvantaged by a lack of coverage in the press and broadcasting media. The truth is the opposite"

is completely untrue. There is an obvious disadvantage that accrues to any political party that cannot get the attention of the mass media. Parties that do, (UKIP, for example?), often do much better as a result.

Couldn't they just treat us like they did Sinn Fein in the Eighties? I'd be happy for Lindsey German's words to be spoken by an actress.

Paul W

I recall the National Front getting over 15% of the vote in a by-election at West Bromwich in the early 1970s.

Talking of Respect, they appear to have won a council seat in Tower Hamlets yesterday.

Oliver Kamm

You're quite right. Martin Webster won 16% of the vote (5,500 votes) for the National Front in the West Bromwich West by-election in 1973. This was the election in which Betty Boothroyd was first elected to Parliament; as the main parties hadn't stood in her constituency during her tenure as Speaker, there were some concerns in the 2000 by-election to replace her that the British National Party would do well (it didn't).

Thank you for reminding me of this case, because it nicely illustrates the amount of thought and careful study that the previous commentor has invested in his contribution. It is not 'obvious' that 'any' party is under a disadvantage if it lacks media coverage: it depends on the circumstances and the party. In the case of a fringe party that is known for a limited number of issues a lack of media coverage may work to the party's advantage. It did so in the case of the National Front in the mid-70s, before extensive media coverage of the party's neo-Nazi connections (e.g. Webster's membership of the National Socialist Movement in the 1960s) damaged the party's public image. Likewise, the Greens (obviously a less sinister party but still outside the political mainstream) took 14.5% of the vote in the 1989 European elections with very little media coverage; media coverage after the election, with bitter internal disagreements and the public relations disaster of party speaker David Icke's discovery that he was the Messiah, did enormous damage to the Greens' public standing. Similarly, more press coverage for Respect would uncover the role of the Socialist Workers' Party. I can understand why those who believe adherence to the ideology of Lenin is a vote-winner would be reluctant to adduce evidence for that proposition.

Sean Fear

I see that on their website, Respect now claim to be the fourth party in British politics - an accolade which properly belongs to the Liberal Democrats, judging by the European elections.

Given that the Greens, BNP, DUP, UUP, Sinn Fein, Plaid and SNP all performed better than Respect in those elections, I reckon that makes them the 12th party in British politics - which doesn't have quite the same ring to it.


Well, at least we all know the first party in British politics-- before and after the next general election.

Tim Newman

Just being awkward here Oliver, but is 58 minus 12.7 precisely 46?

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