Friday, October 23, 2009

BNP On Question Time

I watched Nick Griffin on Question Time last night, no doubt along with many others who had tuned in to see what the fuss was about.

Of the other four panellists I was most impressed with Bonnie Greer and Sayeeda Warsi. I hadn't seen Bonnie before and I thought she demonstrated a depth of knowledge and good sense on some historical matters, and she maintained her good humour despite having to sit next to Griffin - I assume the three politicians refused to do so. I was with Sayeeda in Bosnia and she is one tough cookie, as she demonstrated on the show, giving better than she got. Her condemnation of the government for creating the ideal environment for the BNP to grow was particularly telling and I was impressed by her strong defence of moderate Islam. We could do with seeing more Muslims like Sayeeda on television and fewer of the extremists who often attract coverage.

Chris Huhne was also good - worryingly so for Clegg, I imagine - although he was not credible when he was asked what the Lib Dems would do about immigration from within Europe. Jack Straw struggled to defend the government's record on immigration and community cohesion. The government minister is usually the hate figure for the audience, for once this was not the case, but he still came across as strident at times.

Griffin was clearly revelling in his most hated man in Britain status, playing up to some of the BNP stereotypes. He had difficulty justifying his previous quotes - not surprisingly - and went off into loopy conspiracy theory territory on a couple of occasions.

Many of the audience also came out of this well. They were decent people with real questions, not the shouty counter demonstration that they could easily have been. I was particularly taken with an articulate asian man who defended his love for Britain and asked where the BNP proposed to deport him to. Our country - and particularly our city - needs good, committed people like this and the colour of their skin or their religious beliefs should be irrelevant.

I was very disappointed that most of the session focused on the BNP, with Griffin's personal history debated repeatedly as if it was the most important news of the day. Outside the bubble of the studio we have a postal strike, a conflict in Afghanistan and an expenses scandal, yet the only non BNP discussion related to Anne Moir's article about Stephen Gately and the panellists swiftly drifted back to the subject of.... the BNP.

BBC News stated that, as the beneficiary of a significant vote - Griffin was entitled to occasional appearances on Question Time, which suggests that they might invite him back. If this does happen, I hope the debate will range more widely than it did this time. The BNP are comfortable talking about themselves but when they are asked to comment on the big political issues their inadequacy shines through...


morris hickey said...

Roger - we are a one on this. Like most political activists, I was keen to watch this.

There have been other occasions where Saeeda has worried me, but on this one she was undoubtedly "star of the show". Brimming over with self-control, she was the epitome of moderation but with intellectual rapier thrusts that had Griffin reeling. The pinnacle of her contribution must have been the moment that she declared that there is no such thing as a bogus asylum seeker.

I was also, like you, very impressed with Bonnie Greer and thought that the Liberal Democrats had made the wrong choice for their national leader. Jack Straw was clearly very uncomfortable in trying to defend the government's position on immigration - as indeed he should be as a former, inadequate Home Secretary.

As to NG himself, he was weak, self-conradicting, and typical of the single-subject agenda zealot that his lot are. I too hope that if he appears again there will be a wider-ranging debate that will expose the shallowness of his lot and demonstrate clearly that they have a single policy that leaves them well short of justifying the label "political party".

As to Bumblebee, he and Paxman suffer the same deficiency. If they do not hear what they want to hear then they attempt to obtain it by bullying. Perhaps at 71 (next week) the Beeb's agist policy should be extended to DD?

Amy said...

It is unfortunate that there are people with the same views as Griffin. They should not be allowed to be in politics.

judith said...

Amy - who would you allow to be involved in politics? Only people who agreed with your views?

The BNP menace has grown because the 'great and the good' in the media and Westminster decided to stifle debate about immigration and multi-culturism.

Any attempt to discuss these subjects rationally were met with hysterical accusations of 'racism!' from the intelligentsia.

What option is then open to those, perhaps less sophisticated, voters who feel they are being ignored? They obviously turn to those who appear to address their concerns in brutally simple and direct ways.

As far as TV is concerned, there is a crying need for the BNP to be examined face to face - but not in the Question Time forum. Dealing with Griffin in a confrontational manner isn't going to work, because he will be seen as a martyr for the cause.

Rog T said...

As ever a decent, thoughtful analysis. The worry for me isn't that the BNP will suddenly get 51% of the electorate voting for them as a result of this broadcast. The worry is that the 1 or 2% of the electorate who may be swayed by this into voting BNP.

With the system that people such as yourself are elected at the GLA, this gives them money and access, which further helps them grow.

weggis said...

Rog T,

The “system” also helps minority views such as the Greens to have a say. It could also be argued that suppressing minority views encourages extremism? Do you wish to throw out the baby with the bathwater?

Rog T said...


I suspect that the Green movement is less about seizing power than pressuring mainstream parties to adapt their policies. Ideally I'd not have any restrictions on any parties or their activities, but many BNP supporters engage in all sorts of repulsive and unlawful activities. Unfortunately any restriction favours the status quo but the alternative to me is pretty unthinkable.

weggis said...

Well, Rog T, they've certainly "adapted" them But I'd rather they adopted them!