“I shared a platform with David Duke, who was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan, a totally non-violent one by the way.” Nick Griffin, BNP Leader
“Which ‘bit too far’, Nick Griffin, did Adolf Hitler do, was it in gassing the Jews?” Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat MP
And so it came to pass. The most loathsome, vile representation of the Id in the political sphere, the British National Party, were allowed onto ‘Question Time‘. Nick Griffin, a personification of insecurity and hate, was rightly mugged by the liberal, i.e. normal, political establishment who find his views abhorrent. But early indications from opinion polls show the BNP may have gained support despite being made look simultaneously ridiculous and sinister. The World hasn’t collapsed since Thursday but something significant has happened: have the BNP gained a massive publicity coup or is this just a flash in the pan?
The BNP is a direct successor to Oswald Mosley’s fascist Black Shirts of the 1930’s. They were avowedly racist then and are proudly racist now. Similar to the KKK in their witless championing of Anglo-Saxon blood purity, the British National Party is a thuggish rump of ignorant and violent (mostly) men. That’s why their leader, Cambridge educated Nick Griffin, is such a quixotic figure for many in the media. From his street-fighting days as a young fascist, Griffin endeavoured to give his party a veneer of respectability in order to become a British Fuhrer. The BNPs still full of knuckle-dragging thugs, but the language has been modified and the party has made big advances in some White working-class areas. And in June, Griffin was returned as an MEP and the BBC felt compelled to allow him greater access to the public airways.
The hype surrounding the appearance of Griffin was extraordinary. Journalists and politicians agonised over whether the apparently media-savvy Griffin would bamboozle or obfuscate his way through the BBC current affairs flag-ship. Would the panel be strong enough to cope with Griffin’s slippery language? Would the mainstream parties be hoisted on their own petard regarding their views on immigration? How would the BNP capitalise on their primetime exposure? (they certainly saw the invite as a huge opportunity, even having a ‘count-down’ clock on their website). Hundreds protested outside the BBC prior to his appearance; there were the usual Socialist Worker party members in attendance but also others appalled by what they saw as the BBC’s naivety in asking a fascist onto ‘Question Time’.
It was a combative and articulate panel that took Griffin on with no-holds-barred. The audience members were in turns scathing and mocking of Griffin’s confused, ridiculous propositions. It was a joy to behold his arguments being demolished by reason and not on the streets. But…in their very efforts to confront the BNPs boots and fists politics, the BBC, Chris Huhne, Bonnie Greer, Baroness Warsi and Jack Straw did to, like any well-prepared debating team, have co-ordinated their strategy. The bulk of the Middle-Class viewership who make up the ‘Question Time’ audience, will not have considered this an ethical issue; why be fair to a party that would abolish democracy if it was ever elected? However, to the prejudiced and uneducated white BNP target voter, it would have looked like liberal ‘them’ ganging up on the oppressed White ‘us’.
Griffin constantly lied and was at times inarticulate but he did score some points. The Conservatives might like to claim that ‘there are many, many people out there who vote for the BNP who are not racist’ but that’s not true. They vote BNP because they know what they’re getting. Mix up some quotes from the Daily Mail, Daily Express and BNP then try to spot the difference. There IS a significant, nasty, small-Englander/racist minority in England that needs to be confronted, not pandered too by Labour and the Tories vying to implement tougher and tougher immigration measures. The BNP and their voters are primitive people and need to be ostracised, not courted.
The paradox about free speech is that we allow those who would abuse freedom access to the media. Sinn Fein were barred from the BBC because it was feared that allowing them on would give them and the IRA ‘the oxygen of publicity’. Well it did. Sinn Fein are now the main Nationalist party in Northern Ireland. But they have changed significantly since the broadcasting ban and are now the Peace Process’s biggest advocate. Broadcasters arrogantly said that Sinn Fein’s arguments would be exposed once censorship was lifted. Some of them say the same about the BNP. Lets hope that they’re right. The prospects of the rise in racist attacks, the poisoning of Britain’s racial relations and the BNP holding real power are too frightening for all decent people. Let’s also hope the audience member who said the following is right too; ‘all you’re thinking of doing is trying to poison politics and poison the minds of people in this country, the vast majority in this audience find what you stand for to be completely disgusting’.