Gordon Brown would send out a powerful message to his party's core supporters if he were to personally throw his weight behind a call for a new "coalition of the willing" that will help to blunt the advance of the far-right in this country by addressing some of the genuine concerns of white working-class voters while at the same time openly challenging those concerns that have no factual or legitimate basis.I fear Mike's plea will go unheeded. The fact is that our electoral system gives Labour little incentive to fight the far-right, or listen to its core supporters.
Labour will not lose the next election because of the rise of the BNP in places like Stoke (Mike's example). It makes no difference if Labour's 10,000 majorities in Stoke's constituencies are cut by thousands because of the BNP or abstainers. What will cost Labour the election is the loss of places like Worcester or Oxford East*. And although abstentions or BNP votes by white working class voters in those areas could be a problem, they are less a danger than middle-income floating voters swinging to the Tories. It was his grasp of this fact that helped Blair win three elections.
So, could it be that ignoring its core support - and the rise in the BNP this threatens - is one of the prices we must pay for our first-past-the-post system?
* corrected in light of comment.