In fact 2002 was even before the big surge in immigration following EU enlargement, although immigration had gone up to some extent after 1997, and the BNP's successes at that time occurred in areas not greatly affected by the recent increases in immigration levels.
Where Straw is to blame though is in the kind of attitudes he was propagating as Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001. Not simply his role in producing the infamous MacPherson Report, but his repeatedly reaffirmed belief that there is something inherently shameful about English culture. See for example:
- Referring to the English "propensity to violence" and as being "potentially very aggressive, very violent"
- Blaming football hooliganism on Englishness and claiming that England is particularly xenophobic, "There is a particular problem with some people's view of Englishness. There is a distorted, incomplete idea of what it is to be patriotic for those in England, which is different from that in Wales or Scotland or Ireland. We've had all the global baggage of the empire and a lot of jingoism here."
- And when he bacame Foreign Secretary he immediately started blaming Britain for much of the world's conflicts.
* Most of Straw's expressions of contempt for England are rooted in baseless assertions. For example he blames football hooliganism of English nationalism, but the most violent fixture in the Football League is probably the Cardiff-Swansea match. And football violence is endemic in countries that have never had empires like Uruguay and various Eastern European states. Similarly the idea that the English are unusually xenophobic can be shown to be complete nonsense simply by looking through international comparisons such as the World Values Survey, we are considerably less hostile to foreigners than most countries. Jack Straw's beliefs are not shaped by evidence but are axioms he fitted into his political worldview as a student leader in the 1970s.