"We certainly look at Wales as the next target."
Those the words of BNP spokesman Simon Darby ahead of the European elections next month – words that will undoubtedly send a shiver down the spine of a fair few in mainstream politics.
The comments came in response to Neil Kinnock’s warning to the Labour party that the far-right nationalists will be the beneficiaries of their in-fighting.
But what are the real prospects of the BNP holding a Welsh seat in the next European Parliament. Well the numbers are interesting (to a political anorak like me).
Here’s the result from 2004:
Labour - 297,810 (148,905)
Conservative - 177,771
Plaid - 159,888
UKIP - 96,677
Lib Dem - 96,116
Greens - 32,761
BNP - 27,135
Others – 29,528
The indication this time is that Labour is likely to lose votes both to other parties and from their core supporters staying at home.
The other party that are likely to lose votes this time around is UKIP who don’t have the same momentum behind their campaign this time around. So where do their votes go?
The Tories will certainly be hoping to pick up a few and they probably will – the question is whether they can pick up enough votes to overtake Labour. Or indeed could Plaid?
The fourth seat is the one that’s up in the air.
IF Labour get more votes than the Tories, and Plaid remain the only party to get more than half the number of the votes they get everything stays the same.
IF Labour lose the first popular vote they will have lost in Wales for more than half a century and they’re overtaken by the Tories, and Plaid remain the only party to get more than half the number of votes then there will be 2 Tories returned to Europe with one Labour and one Plaid.
IF another party – be it the Liberal Democrats, the BNP or even the Green party – get more than half the number of votes of the leading party they will gain that crucial 4th seat.
That’s a tall order. If (yes another “if”) the leading party get as many votes as Labour did last time (297,810) the fourth party would have to get at least 148,906 votes to stand any chance of a seat - although due to turnout and a more divided vote this number could well be considerably smaller but lets take it as a benchmark for now. Here’s what those other parties would have to gain:
Lib Dem – 52,790
Greens – 116,145
BNP – 121,771
That’s quite a big swing for any of those parties but it’s not necessarily impossible…
This could well be an interesting race.