“This could be the key moment that propels the BNP into the big time.” These were apparently the gloating words of notorious British National Party leader Nick Griffin before BBC programme Question Time was aired last Thursday.
Whether or not he is still this optimistic remains to be seen, but in The Times (Tuesday 27th October) speculation regarding unrest within the party is mentioned. It claims supporters have “called for Nick Griffin to step down as leader after his performance”, and thus it would appear people’s concerns over Mr Griffin gaining support from BBC airtime were perhaps unwarranted.
Evidently there were mixed reactions to the party leader’s presence on mainstream TV, with Mr Griffin claiming he was ‘victimized’, much to the concern of critics. Some argued that due to his abhorrently racist policies he should not have been given a platform from which to speak. Others believed to deny him airtime would be denying democracy, and essentially all that Britain stands for.
In my opinion it is fundamentally wrong to refuse minority groups a voice within the media, and I believe this applies to everyone, regardless. This is not to say I agree with anything the BNP says, I certainly do not.
Instead of demanding the news be censored, or being outraged that the BNP are allowed on primetime TV, perhaps we should ask ourselves the bigger question; why people are turning to the BNP? I do believe to a certain extent Labour may share some responsibility in this recent BNP success, having stigmatized immigration within their policies and creating yet another ‘moral panic’ situation. People seem to have become overwhelmingly concerned about ‘bogus’ asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, and the BNP has latched on to this idea and promised to help maintain the ‘British identity’, perhaps exploiting people’s irrational panic.
Although this may have fooled some, to many others the BNP is still an organisation of ignorance and hatred. Most newspapers the next day screamed “Bigot”, and “disgusting”, and the Daily Express even featured a public vote; “Is Nick Griffin the vilest man in Britian?” (Friday 23rd October 09).
I couldn’t help but be amused by the desperation of Mr Griffin’s attempts to ‘win over’ the general public. His tactic was to say anything he thought the audience might want to hear, and at one point even claimed, “skin colour is irrelevant” whilst arguing with Jack Straw. Surely this statement is a fundamental contradiction to his way of thinking, considering law has only recently ruled the BNP must accept non-white members, on the grounds that they are otherwise being racist.
In a nation that prides itself on free speech and democracy, Nick Griffin and the BNP have every right to voice their views on national television, and similarly we have every right to show him up for what he really is. I certainly don’t believe Question Time has helped the British National Party to gain the respect or justification it craves.
BBC Question Time can be viewed here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00nft24/Question_Time_22_10_2009/