Tonight we had a good campaign session in Holloway; all sorts of people, from pensioners to young professionals are switching to the Lib Dems.
One woman, an NHS midwife, told us how hard life was, working long hours and coming home to high bills, with Government action like abolishing the 10p tax rate just making things worse. She won’t be voting Labour again.
Then there was the BNP voter. One of my colleagues (like the midwife, British born of Asian parents) got an earful. Just the one BNP voter, but one too many for our liking. I’m proud of my diverse campaign team, and it’s unacceptable when they get abuse, not for their policies, ideas or allegiance, but for who they are.
Most people don’t vote BNP. And most of those who do are doing it as a protest rather than a deliberate choice. Like a youth I canvassed during the Euro elections; “I probably won’t vote. Or I might vote BNP. Yeah, BNP. Or Green.”
The BNP is an evil organisation, led by nasty people, who exploit anxiety to grow prejudice. They sell fear in place of hope, despair in place of faith, hate in place of love. They are illiberal, unChristian and unBritish. Their core ideas are racism based on lies. And the best way to defeat them is to expose them.
I hope that tonight’s Question Time did just that. Certainly Nick Griffin got a deservedly rough ride, caught out by his own words, uniting the other parties against him. The protesters outside the BBC, however passionate their anti-fascism, are wrong. We cannot defeat the evil BNP by shouting them down or banning them; those are the tactics fascists themselves use. We defeat them by winning the argument, by showing the truth about the BNP, by building support from all communities for mainstream parties, by defending human rights, and by working to help British residents of all backgrounds feel socially and economically secure.
We live on a small planet where more of the world speaks the same language, uses the same technology, where we can travel round the world in a weekend; I live in a country whose people practically invented the idea of travelling the world for experience or gain, and where our best loved institutions from the NHS to Premier League football would collapse without migrant labour.
In Islington we are celebrating Black History Month – and encouraging people to register to vote.
Nick Griffin gets a platform because people elected him. As one commenter, Pete from Hertford, says on the BBC’s discussion board, “I sincerely hope that everyone who has turned up to protest outside TV Centre actually voted in the last European Election. If not, they’re just as complicit in handing the BNP a mandate”.
So tomorrow we’ll be out on the campaign trail again.