Gordon Brown and the UK Labour Party are bracing for humiliation in this Thursday’s European election. The Prime Minister’s popularity is rock-bottom, and the Conservatives are looking to do well. But the British also look set to award votes in unprecedented numbers to smaller parties.
Brown warned against supporting the far right: “There is no answer to these problems in parties that practise policies of discrimination or prejudice, or racism, or anti-Semitism and that is the unfortunate thing about the British National Party, that that is the essence of the British National Party; it practises this policy of persecution, discrimination, and racism, and anti-Semitism.” The BNP has made capital of the politicians’ expenses scandal. The BNP’s share of the vote in 2004 was too small to send any members to the European Parliament, but forecasts today give it strong chances. Support for the conservative UK Independence Party, whose main aim is to take the UK out of the EU, has risen steeply. Critics, however, including the mainstream Liberal Democrats, allege that Ukip MEPs have been less than transparent about their expenses in the job. Conservative leader David Cameron, meanwhile, has been in Poland. The Tories are quitting the European Parliament’s EPP group to form a non-federalist alternative with like-minded MEPs from Poland’s right-wing opposition and the Czech liberal ODS, upsetting even some veteran Tories.