[Infographic] Where are the BNP’s voters?

BNP sympathies are a reaction to immigration and a sense of cultural endangerment in the white working class, right? Not exactly, according to this infographic from Information Is Beautiful, which shows many areas of relatively high BNP support (well, over 0.04% of the population) are remote from the largest non-white populations:

BNP membership vs ethnic minority population

It’s possible for voters to live at great distance from ethnic minority communities, and still think there are too many of them over here, apparently – but conversely, it also looks as though support for racist politics largely fades out where non-white faces are most visible. For the very small minority who actively support the BNP, it seems that beliefs about immigration are unlikely to have been formed by direct experience of it.

(Some caveats: the National Institute Of Statistics information is pretty old, and shows ethnic make-up rather than immigrant populations. If anyone has a more recent analysis they think is relevant, stick it in the comments.)

Text © Sarah Ditum, 2009. Image © David McCandless, used under Creative Commons. Spotted by @UAF.

12 thoughts on “[Infographic] Where are the BNP’s voters?

  1. Here’s the ONS population data estimate 2007 by ethnic groupings for England – it’s the first link in the pile. The 2001 census data is hopelessly out of date, because there’s been an downward trend in the percentage and numerical versions of British and Irish white persons in England and an upward trend in other whites and non-whites. The Welsh data isn’t out yet, but the balance has shifted. Not perhaps to anything resembling a tsunami, but certainly enough to concern people who don’t necessarily feel immigration is a positive thing. Of course, that doesn’t include illegal migrants.

    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=14238

    The problem with the visual data presented is the proportion of “high” BNP membership. I don’t think 0.04% is a high enough threshold – certainly in most experimental datasets, that doesn’t reach a level of significance worthy of being reported as causal to an effect. I’d prefer to see a gradiated analysis on that map, because then it’d tell you if the typical flashpoints of Greater Manchester, West Midlands and East London have a higher level than just ~0.04%.

    It’s not just non-whites, either. They’ve just become a primary target. People also have issues with Eastern Europeans in their communities, despite the BNPs stated official policies. Immigration in general is a problem; non-white immigration primarily, but also from those countries perceived to be second-world European.

  2. I agree with all your criticisms – I think shading to reflect density would have been good, and it’s a definite weakness that it doesn’t cover immigration from Eastern Europe. But I still found the spread of the blue – out to the edges, away from the major centres of population which attract new arrivals to the country – interesting enough to post here.

    There’s a graded map showing BNP membership on the Guardian datablog – the densest populations on there seem roughly to match up to the purple areas on the Information Is Beautiful version.

  3. To play devils advocate for a moment – could you add the details of Labour held areas onto that map?
    You should find that it matches with BNP areas quite well because while the media are looking at the BNP being a racist party and nothing else, its voters are not. They are mostly interested in its xenophobic socialist policies (british jobs for british workers etc) – which are very similar to old fashioned Labour policies (pre Nu Labour)

  4. I didn’t make the map. Like I said, it’s from Information Is Beautiful and it shows where BNP membership is highest, not “held areas”. You couldn’t make a similar infographic to show off your pet theory because non-white people can join every other political party. The BNP is the only party with a racist constitution, so anyone joining who considered themselves a non-racist would have to be pretty stupid.

    Seriously, if you read the notes on the map it’s not that hard to understand.

  5. [Edit by Sarah: the commenter’s name and email address appear on the latest leak of BNP members. He forgot to mention it, so I thought I’d just chuck it out there.]

    I read the article by Christopher Hart today regarding the Abbot and Portillo show, and agree with practically every word. I also watched the Channel 4 show on Monday “Race and Intelligence” and made two observations.

    1. According to scientists, I a genetically inferior to other races, but you know, it does not bother me one bit if that is proven to be the case
    2. The reason given by the programme presenter for the “lack of intelligence” in the black population had nothing to do with IQ tests, but more to do with associating academic achievement with whites. In fact one very bright black was beaten to death because of this.

    Am I wrong or is this openly rampant racism by the black population? This seems acceptable by all. If a whites refused to enter the 100 metre sprint because it is associated with blacks, I think there may possibly be some kind of backlash.

  6. Yes, you’re wrong. First, IQ tests are an unreliable, culturally determined measure of intelligence (summary of the relevant arguments here). Second, variation within a category can be more significant than variation between. You, for example, may belong to a subset which has been assigned to a particular range of IQ values, but your individual intelligence can fall anyway within or even outside that range. And, judging from the comment above, you’re not very bright.

  7. I read Christopher Hart’s article, and I thought it was schizophrenic and unfocused.

    That’s just about it. :)

  8. Edit by Sarah: the commenter’s name and email address appear on the latest leak of BNP members. He forgot to mention it, so I thought I’d just chuck it out there.

    Oh, bright move Batman! – ever considered that the data on Wikileaks might not be reliable? Ever thought it was put there so that sloppy freelance writers would refer to it and give it credibility? Didn’t they teach you to get two independent sources while you were at Oxford?

    Anyway, back on topic.

    You totally misunderstand my comments so I will try again, this time in simpler terms, I’ve even typed slower so that you might understand. Shame I can’t write on the screen with crayon to help you out! ;)

    The maps show both BNP membership and where the large non white populations are held. You are reading into these maps that the BNP membership is worrying about nothing because their areas of popularity are not where there are high levels of non white population.

    My point is that membership of the BNP is not limited to racists and many members (40% were the last figures I saw) do not even consider themselves racist. What I would like to see is how closely the map of BNP membership follows the areas of popularity of the labour party.
    I have found a map here, http://www.qwghlm.co.uk/projects/electionmap/ It sort of follows the theory, but there is too much information to be able to break down to a simple yes / no answer.

    It really does come down to the BNP just being another flavour of socialism – one the urban elite just don’t like!

  9. The demographic evidence doesn’t really work for you. Political Betting have a breakdown of previous voting behaviour by BNP voters: 65% didn’t vote at all at the previous election, with the remaining 35% split 20/10/5 Lab/Con/Lib. The BNP has co-opted old-Labour language, but they’ve also co-opted the law-and-order and defence-of-the-realm rhetoric that was previously dominated by the Conservatives. They’re simply opportunistic. Also, I’m not terribly impressed by your faith in self-reporting. I’d say that casting a vote for a party with a racist constitution is a pretty manifest expression of racism, whether or not someone self-designates as a racist.

  10. My point is that membership of the BNP is not limited to racists and many members (40% were the last figures I saw) do not even consider themselves racist.

    “I’m not racist, but…”
    “I can’t be racist, some of my best friends are black…”

    You make a fundamental mistake if you think that Labour have been using that kind of working class language in their rhetoric. Very few Labour MPs, with the exceptions being the old school, non-cabinet variety, are interested in pursuing a socialist agenda for the country simply because state ownership agendas are neither fiscally possible or ideologically acceptable to swing voters.

    Did you think that New Labour won in 1997 on a platform of public ownership and a promise to renationalise? Or do you think they embarked on one of the largest programmes of private involvement in public sector capital projects and services in British history? Do you think that disaffected Tory swing voters ran to Blair because they saw an old-school socialist, that capitalism was a failure and democratic socialism was the way to go? Or do you think he harped on for three years about a Third Way and then promptly got together with the same private industry people he’d been schmoozing out of power and then carried on the Conservative programme of nationalisation?

    You won’t find the correlation you’re looking for. The main reason you won’t find is because the BNP have an incredibly small share of the vote anyway, and so you can’t find the correlation to see if Lab-BNP is a direction. A more likely direction, despite loud fluffing on the internet, is Lab-Con, Lab-Lib or Lab-Green – or, in fact, Lab-Null. In June, the Tories, UKIP and the Libs all increased vote share across the board whereas the BNP had a marginal national increase pushed up primarily by the North West and Yorks and Humber.

    A second reason you’re wrong is because the BNP, in their style guide, explicitly mention that their language should be modified to catch voter dissatisfaction. Specifically, they target working class areas with working class language, catching Labour and Lib voters, and traditional Tory and UKIP voters with language to suit them. It’s because the BNP don’t have any real policies aside from no more immigration (which is narrow-minded on a practical scale the UK needs immigration on many different levels) and out of Europe – which is narrow minded on an economic and geopolitical scale, because the BNP don’t have the experience or foresight to appreciate how much tarif-free trade within the EU benefits us and how complicated and lengthy free-trade agreement negotiations with their preferred Commonwealth partners of NZ, Canada and Australia are.

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