Recently in Europe Category
Shock of shocks, the Lisbon Treaty is signed, sealed and delivered from a small country in Eastern Europe and off of a sudden everyone is talking about the Conservative Party being in disarray.
Yes, David Cameron made a "cast iron" promise (his words, not mine) to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty back in 2007.
But things change, times change, and for the Tories to have pushed on with a referendum if/when they are elected on something they realistically couldn't change would have been daft, wouldn't it?
So while having to change tack on the Lisbon Treaty shouldn't be a bad thing for the Tories, many of the issues around the ways the Tories have handled Europe should be cause for concern:
IT'S a good three months since the BNP won their first national-level representation in the form of two MEPs in the European parliament thanks to the quirky voting system and they've largely disappeared off the political radar.
They've popped up one or two times, most recently in an article in the Lancashire Telegraph - which covers what could be considered the BNP's heartland of East Lancashire - which revealed the party was struggling to find somewhere to base their office, which was oddly heartening.
Then today came the news, in The Times, that they are abandoning plans to fight a legal prosecution by the Equality and Human Rights Commission over its "you can only come in if you're white and of celtic/anglo-saxon descent" membership policy.
Nick Griffin, between known as Fat Hitler on Twitter, has decided the party will modify its rules to allow in anyone, rather than take a stance against the Commission and, in his word "go down in a blaze of glory."
So, is it a victory for democracy or equality, or an own goal which plays to the BNP's favoured electoral tactic of sticking up for what it sees as the oppressed homeland majority?
If you believe the Mail on Sunday's Zapper column (a kind of political TV column), the powers that be at the BBC have been agonising over how to treat the BNP now that they are an elected party - even if it was thanks to a voting system which is slanted towards the fringe parties.
The answer is simple: Treat them like any other parties, and give them the same airtime, relevant to their size, to all the parties. When UKIP did so well, they got the airtime, and even Robert Kilroy-Silk got airtime when he was in power.
And that appears to be what the BBC is doing. Nick Griffin got a slot on the Andrew Marr show this weekend, and if you read the BNP website, he was terribly hard-done to, with his interview slot cut short to allow for an expanded newspaper review section.
An interesting email dropped into my inbox this week. It was a press release from the Chartered Institute of Journalists and was about the BNP, or rather how it felt the media should cover them.
The BNP's recent success (or rather, the absurdity of the the electoral system for European elections) has apparently made a lot of people think. Back before the election, I wrote a post which suggested that the idea that "journalists shouldn't give the BNP the oxygen of publicity" wasn't the best way to deal with a party who doesn't think twice before peddling mistruths in its pursuit of power.
Since the election, the National Union of Journalists, jumped out the trap with a call for its members to discuss how the media should report the BNP, or as it put it "The BNP's election victories have brought a new urgency to questions about how journalists should report fascists and racists."
The CIOJ doesn't feel the need for discussion. It's line is simple: Treat them like any other party, because, as it says: "Accurate reporting will undermine the strong support of such parties."
So Nick Griffin finally finds himself democratically elected to a position within democracy. The BNP leader has traipsed across the UK over recent years trying to gain a position of power and he now appears to think he's got it.
And while two MEPs from a party with its roots in the very far-right and which has a racist membership policy will never be good news, is the fact Griffin is joining the gravytrain to Europe really as bad as it looks?
I'd argue no. Nick Griffin has been elected into the North West on the back of some outpouring of outrage over immigration - he's got in thanks to a confusing version of proportional representation.
AMID the continuing expenses hype, a small fact appears to have become widely forgotten: there's an election on this week.
And while the weekend polls in the Sunday newspapers drew headlines about the collapse of Labour's support as a result of the expenses scandal, I think it's worth highlighting another point.
The BNP. There's been a lot of suggestion that the BNP would be the ones to profit from the general disgust which is widely believed to exist towards the three main political parties.
But, looking at the BNP's position, it's unchanged - still around the four and five per cent mark. In other words, the general electorate may be annoyed, but they aren't about to turn to the BNP to voice their opposition.