At the weekend Margaret Hodge warned that on the doorstep 80% of voters were telling her that they had considered voting for the BNP. This was followed on Monday by the publication of a report by the JRRT, based largely on research from the London elections in 2004, that showed around a quarter of Londoners would consider voting BNP (this was widely, and wrongly, reported as saying that 25% of people would consider voting BNP. It actually referred specifically to London – the figure for Great Britain was 18%). In covering Hodge’s remarks and the JRRT report the BBC and Sky naturally abided by their duty to be scrupulously fair-minded and gave the BNP mountains of what must be the most favourable media coverage of their history. The first opinion poll since then shows the result.

YouGov’s monthly poll for April shows all three main political parties falling and the BNP’s support rising to 7%. The full figures with changes from last month are CON 33%(-3), LAB 35%(-1), LDEM 17%(-1), BNP 7%. In YouGov’s last poll BNP support stood at 0.4% (though since polls are rounded to the nearest whole number, it would have been reported as an askerisk, meaning less than 0.5% but not actually zero). For comparison, at the last general election the BNP received 0.7% of the vote.

Populus also had the BNP at under 1% in their last poll (ICM and MORI don’t even single out the BNP in their results, though their total “other” vote is only 1 or 2% once the SNP, PC, Greens and UKIP are taken out anyway) suggesting that while the underlying causes of the rise in BNP support may be long standing – disillusionment with the mainstream political parties and unaddressed concerns over immigration, etc – the immediate cause of the rise can only be attributed to the publicity the party received over the weekend – a party that is normally a fringe pariah was for a couple of days treated as a serious contender by the BBC and Sky.

The main victim of the advance seems to be the Conservative party, down 3 points on last month. Traditionally the BNP are seen as being strongest in traditional working class Labour areas, but the work in the JRRT study also suggests that they draw more support from Tory voters than Labour or Lib Dem voters, so a possible explanation is that they are picking up the rump working class Tory voters in urban areas.

So what happens now? This poll will probably result in another bout of media coverage for the BNP reinforcing their poll boost in the same way that UKIP rode a wave of publicity at the last European elections. It may well last until the local elections at the beginning of next month and see more BNP councillors elected. Is it anymore significant than that? Probably not. Once the publicity has faded away people will once again forget about the BNP and their support will fade away again into the fractions of percentage points they normally register, in much the same way that UKIP’s support gradually ebbed away again after the European elections.

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