FactCheck: how many BNP votes?
Updated on 10 June 2009
Nick Griffin attacks claims that the BNP got fewer Euro election votes than last time. How do the numbers stack up?
"..Newspapers are quoting Alistair Darling saying the BNP got fewer votes than last time. No we did not, our vote increased from 808,000 to 943,000. That's a 17 per cent increase, on a falling turnout."
Nick Griffin, MEP, outside parliament, 9 June 2009
Labour was in the throes of a leadership crisis; MPs in general were in the throes of an expenses' crisis. The British National party won two seats in European elections, giving the far-right party its first presence in the European parliament.
Nick Griffin, the party's leader, was elected an MEP for North West England, and Andrew Brons won a seat in Yorkshire and the Humber.
Today Griffin held a press conference outside the Houses of Parliament, which swiftly descended into chaos as protesters shouted him out and pelted him with eggs.
Just before the eggs started to fly, Griffin criticised Chancellor Alistair Darling for saying the BNP had just received fewer votes than in the last election. Not true, he said.
The numbers Griffin quotes are accurate: in the 2004 Euro elections, his party received 808,200 votes (4.9 per cent of the total cast in Great Britain).
Last week, they polled 943,598 votes (6.4 per cent of the total).
But the electoral system means that, when it comes to electing MEPS, the national vote has less sway than what happens in individual regions.
The UK is divided into 11 electoral regions; a number of MEPs are elected based on proportion representation in each region.
And in the two regions where the BNP won seats, they did so with fewer votes than last time around.
In Griffin's North-west constituency, the party got 132,094 votes - nearly 3,000 fewer than their previous 134,959.
In Yorkshire and the Humber, its vote decreased by more than 6,000: 120,139 compared to 126,538 in 2004.
The BNP won significantly more votes overall in the 2009 Euro elections than they did in 2004.
But in both of the two electoral regions where they gained MEPs, they polled fewer votes than last time around. So technically, both of their MEPs were elected with fewer votes.
Which backs up Alistair Darling's statement, although he doesn't specify that he's not referring to the national picture: "The BNP got fewer votes than last time, but a bigger share of the vote because our vote collapsed. We have a huge responsibility to repair that damage."
So who's right? On this occasion, we'll let you make up your own mind.
FactCheck rating: 2.5
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