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The uni effect; LETTERS.

SIR - I have noticed that in the university constituencies the appeal of the BNP is far less than in those seats without a university. In the Caerphilly constituency the BNP gained 7.76%; there is no university there.

In Ceredigion with two Welsh universities they came seventh (2.78%) and the same is true in Cardiff Central, with its three universities (3.45%).

I was wondering whether there are issues therefore beyond the fact that more educated people tend to be less nationalist in their views, than less educated people. On the Continent, after all, towns or cities with universities within them still seem often to support right-wing nationalist parties. I have come to realise that instead of having a higher level education it may be more to do with the tradition of many Welsh students going to a university away from their home town that lessens the BNP's appeal.

This tradition in my experience is far less across much of the rest of Europe, where the students nearly always go to local universities.

Also I believe the Erasmus programme and the English tradition of travel has helped in lessening the Welsh students' fear of the "foreigner". Having European and English students sitting in the same class and going out to the same night clubs and socialising together has helped remove many of the nationalist myths spread about immigrants. Therefore we could say that the Welsh tradition of university "travel not only broadens the mind it also lessens crosses on the BNP ballot". Let the politicians therefore be aware that the Welsh university tradition may well be doing more to keep the BNP vote down than any campaigning they have done.

DR RUSSELL DEACON Reader in Welsh Politics and History, Caerphilly
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 24, 2009
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