Sayeeda Warsi, the Conservative party chair who recently warned that the alternative vote could lead to politicians “pandering to extremism,” appears to have appealed to BNP voters herself when she was standing for parliament back in 2005.
Campaign material for her bid to become Tory MP for Dewsbury urged BNP votes to switch to the Tory party because the BNP “cannot deliver.” The document, seen by Prospect, was entitled: “Are you thinking of voting BNP? Think again.” It continued: “If you vote BNP you are allowing Labour to creep in with more political correctness and uncontrolled immigration and asylum.” It described the Conservatives as “the only party that can deliver and put you first.”
Baroness Warsi has come under fire in recent days over a series of claims made for the “No” campaign, on the cost of introducing AV and its supposed benefits for “extremist” parties such as the BNP.
On 30th March Baroness Warsi wrote in the Sun that AV could lead to politicians “pandering to extremist voters”.
“Generations have been served well by the British system because fascists and extremists have consistently been excluded from parliament,” Baroness Warsi wrote.
She added: “The long-term effects of that are clear: more votes, more power, more long-term legitimacy for the BNP and other fringe parties.”
The claim that the BNP would benefit from AV has been strongly contested by the “Yes” campaign. Leading pollster and commentator Peter Kellner has written in Prospect that “[under] AV, far-left and far-right parties would find it much harder to win seats”. Significantly, the BNP itself is campaigning for a “No” to AV vote in the belief that it would do better under the current system, First Past the Post. And the IPPR has produced research showing that there is “no chance that BNP second preference votes could alter the outcome” in seats.
This is not the first time controversy has been raised about Baroness Warsi’s campaigning techniques during the 2005 election. After the campaign it emerged that she had also produced campaign literature condemning Labour’s record on homosexuality. Her leaflet’s said: “Labour has scrapped Section 28, which was introduced by the Conservatives to stop schools promoting alternative sexual lifestyles such as homosexuality to children as young as seven years…