Yesterday I was saying that I don't think the Tories can win enough seats at the next election to enable them to form a government based on the latest opinion polls. However, there was one factor that I forgot to take into account - the BNP factor.
After the last election, someone did an analysis of the UKIP factor on Tory results - I think it was over on EU Referendum. Their analysis suggested that there were a number of closely contested seats which , had the UKIP vote transferred to the Tory party then the Conservatives would have won the seat - and if this had been translated across the country then the final result would have been much tighter resulting in, probably, a hung parliament.
Of course, not everyone who voted UKIP would necessarily have put their X next to the Tory party if UKIP weren't an option - there are plenty of left wing voters who are EU sceptics too - but there is no doubt that UKIP are very much a party in the old Tory mould and much more likely to attract right wing votes.
Of course, there have always been minor parties on the right and the left which have taken small amounts of votes away from the two main parties. I don't include the Lib Dems in this as they basically inherited an established voter base from the Liberal Party. Yes, there were defections from both Labour and Conservative voters to the Lib Dems, but these were balanced out by defections from the Liberal Party vote to Labour and Tory.
However, the arrival of UKIP on the scene was a significant change. Although they remain a minor party, there is no doubt that the number of votes they are winning is enough to influence results - and generally this is to the detriment of the Tory Party. While this has been happening to the Tory vote there hasn't been a similar significant challenge to the Labour vote.*
Until now. The growth of the BNP over the last decade means that they are now at a point where they could become Labour's "UKIP" - a party which takes enough votes away from Labour to leave them short in marginal seats that could result in a Tory victory. Make no mistake, the BNP are a party which appeals primarily to working class voters who would usually vote Labour.
The BNP factor may be crucial in the coming General Election. Will it be enough to give Cameron's Conservatives an election victory? Probably not, but it may just be enough to ensure a hung parliament. What is certain is that the Tories are reliant on the BNP doing well to have any hope of forming the next government.
I wonder how they feel about that!
* Some might point to the Green Party as Labour's equivalent to UKIP, but I don't include them in this even though The Green Party is an ultra left party. They appeal, primarily, to middle class urban voters and are more likely, if anything, to be taking votes away from the Tories and Lib Dems in urban areas where eco-fascism is popular than they are Labour - and Labour are very strong in urban areas. Nobody who has a serious interest in the environment and rural affairs would vote Green.