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BBC/BNP after the programme

I watched the Question Time under the heavy influence of lemon and honey so this may have effected my judgement. Here are my immediate reactions.
Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
23 October 2009

OurKingdom on Nick Griffin and the BBC: What is the BBC's game? Anthony Barnett > This post > After Nick Griffin and Question Time, Gerry Hassan > Get over it, David Elstein

I watched the Question Time under the heavy influence of lemon and honey so this may have effected my judgement. Here are my immediate reactions:

1. It wasn't a proper Question Time at all, a fact used effectively in the BNP immediate post-programme response (reproduced in full below and unfortunately necessary reading). Stung by the accusation that they were treating a racist as a normal politician the BBC turned QT itself onto him. This kind of interrogation should have been done by giving him an hour interview with a strong, experienced questioner, like Peter Oborne. The point of Question Time is to give its participants a platform to share their views on the issues of the day. This programme didn't do that. I was relieved when I watched it. But all the cant of its Controller Mark Thompson about the BBC being equal handed in its treatment was shown to be hollow. This evening at one and the same time gave the BNP a much higher profile and a demonstrable grievance, which as you can see they exploited immediately.

2. This matters because the BNP's current objective is not even to increase its vote but to double its small membership and revenues. It may well have done this.

3. Yet despite their unrelenting focus on one member of the panel, it was all about his 'views'. The vermin point that I made in my earlier post (about the role of the BBC being more important part of the story) wasn't taken up at all. The assumption was that Nick Griffin had opinions which needed to be engaged with. Thus Bonny Greer declared his claims about the 17,000 year ethnicity of true born Brits to be "loopy". Of course they are, if all you think they are is a historical proposition. But what they really are is a permission to supporters to take an uppity Muslim round the corner and beat the shit out of him - the starting point of fascism. The audience had a much better sense of this than the panel.

4. This is why they don't qualify for a high-profile democratic platform despite their votes. To say this is in no way to suggest they be "censored". Peter Hain made the point against the tendentious statement of Mark Thompson (and Paul Kingsnorth uses the same slack claim against me in his comment to my first post).

5. I liked the way that for the first time an ideology of 'who we are' finally started to emerge that really sees us as mixed not racial. Again this came from the platform.

6. And also from Sayeeda Warsi. The contrast presence and Jack Straw's was striking. The mandate of heaven has moved, from Straw blethering on about his 30 years in his constituency to Warsi and Tory immigration policy. It's a pity that she can't be elected.

7. In an excellent angry article today Gary Young argued "setting Straw – and the rest of the political class – against Griffin is simply putting the cause against the symptom". I wondered what Gareth Young who blogs and comments here as Toque, thought of it.

8. But the elephant is the corporation. The rise of the BNP is the most vile and immediate danger, the role of the BBC remains the more important.

The following is from the email sent out by the BNP after the programme:

Fellow British Patriot

"The man's got guts!" "At last, someone saying exactly what we all feel". "The hand-picked audience in the studio hated what Nick had to say, but we loved it". "I've never seen such political bullying on TV in my life." "When he pointed out how all the others are racist against the English, we were all cheering".

Just a few of the responses to the long-awaited BBC Question Time with Nick Griffin tonight. It was never going to be easy: Central London is the most 'enriched' and 'diverse' part of Britain, the BBC audience selection process is clearly guaranteed to 'weed out' politically incorrect guests, and the other panellists shared one aim: to rough up Nick Griffin.

As it is, no-one who saw Jack Straw turn ashen-faced when Nick responded to his 'Nazi' smear by pointing out that "my father served in the RAF during the Second World War - yours spent it in prison for refusing to fight Adolf Hitler." Time and time again Nick gave as good as he got.

Most of all though, this wasn't a proper Question Time at all. The usual format was done away with for the first time in 30 years as the BBC over-compensated for allowing us on by setting things up for a televised lynching.

There was nothing about current affairs at all; no postal strike, nothing about the announcement that Tony Blair is about to be appointed EU President, nothing about the continued slaughter of young British soldiers in Afghanistan, nothing about the latest stages of the banking crisis and the scandal of the Government propping up corrupt banks while imposing savage cuts on essential services. On all those subjects and many more, the BNP's nationalist position offers a real alternative to the three old internationalist parties.

But the only non-BNP/immigration question was about a Daily Mail article on the death of Stephen Gately, and even that was a trap - which Chairman Nick Griffin avoided with both ease and principle.

Where does it leave the BNP? On this day alone our website has had in the region of 15 million 'hits' and over 2,000 new registrations for future membership before QT even started! Millions were shocked by the violence of the leftist mob sponsored by - among other MPs - Peter Hain and David Cameron.

With millions more people beginning to grasp the extent to which the three old parties are essentially the same, while the British National Party is really different. With millions of people knowing that in just a couple of killer soundbites in the middle of the programme, Nick Griffin summed up exactly how they, and all their friends and neighbours, feel about the mess that Lib-Lab-Con have made of our poor country.

They will also have noted very well that Nick Griffin and Bonny Greer clearly got on well, and that Nick listened with respect and answered with consideration even hostile questions from members of ethnic minorities in the audience; the hostility tonight wasn't from Nick towards anyone on account of their ethnicity or religion, it was from the representatives of the failed old parties towards the new kid on the block.

When the details of all the personal attacks against Nick Griffin are long forgotten, people will remember him standing up bravely to a barrage of hate to say things on behalf of the Silent Majority that have never been said on the flagship programme of British politics before. "Nick Griffin - he speaks for us".

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