So yesterday evening, Nick Griffin, chairman of the BNP, entered the belly of the beast and appeared on BBC1’s Question Time. Also on the panel with him were Jack Straw, the Justice Minister, Baroness Warsi, a Tory who failed to get elected as an MP and so became a “lady”, Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesman and failed leadership contender, and Bonnie Greer, a black American playwright who seemed to think the Romans arrived in Britain hot on the heels of a retreating ice cap at the end of the last ice age and that we’re all descended from Neanderthals. (Perhaps she was just talking about herself; personally I’m Cro-Magnon.)
This blog hoped, even expected, that the BBC, having been forced by considerations of fairness to invite Griffin onto the programme, would play it with a straight bat and let the politicians slug it out while David Dimbleby acted as impartial chairman of the debate. This blog even expected that there would be some BNP supporters in the audience, just like all the other political parties were represented in the audience.
Unfortunately this blog was disappointed. There were few BNP supporters in the audience, if any, and they were certainly not called upon to speak. This blogger applied to go in the audience but was turned down (after some debate amongst the production team it seems, going by the number of phones calls and the lateness of the hour at which they finally decided the answer was, “no”.) The audience was massively “ethnic” – unlike normal Question Times – white faces were few and far between.
And David Dimbleby did not act as neutral chairman; he actually attempted to choreograph the other panellists’ attacks on Nick Griffin, telling them to take turns attacking him rather than all wading in at the same time.
The programme started badly for Nick, and then got worse. As he came in the studio and was introduced the audience hissed; a vulgar reception that likely would not have happened with a regular audience.
All the questions asked to the panel were effectively aimed at Nick; and all the questions were implicitly hostile. Never did a BNP supporter get to ask a question or make a point. Never did David Dimbleby say, “Now I’d like to hear from BNP supporters in the audience,” as he would for any other political party.
Each of the other panellists had a script in front of them and spent most of the programme reading out accusations to Nick Griffin and then not letting him answer them. Even David Dimbleby had brought along his own bill of charges. Griffin, manfully but mistakenly I think, tried to answer the accusations. Frankly he should have realised he was a long way behind enemy lines and was never going to get a fair hearing; he should have concentrated on communicating the BNP’s policy to the viewers at home. However, he was probably somewhat constrained by the fact that the last time he was totally candid on the subject of Islam he was filmed by an undercover BBC crew and spent the next two years at Leeds Crown Court trying (and succeeding) in keeping himself out of jail.
He should also have reassured the many ethnics who effectively asked him to where they would be deported if the BNP had its way. NG never told them categorically that since they were British citizens they would not be deported anywhere; they are welcome to live in this country forever – provided they are law-abiding and acquired their citizenship lawfully. The tabloid scare-mongering that the BNP wants “all blacks out” seems reluctant to die. Likewise NG should have stated categorically that the BNP is not Nazi, fascist, racist or socialist. Many members of the public don’t realise this, and the LibLabCon triumvirate have a vested interest in keeping the myth alive.
Nick Griffin needs some basic media training. He needs to be told to sit up straight, to keep his hands away from his face when speaking and not to appease other panellists or members of the audience and that it doesn’t matter if everyone in the room hates him - they are only a couple of hundred individuals – the real audience is the million-plus people watching from their sitting rooms, and they are not hand-picked “ethnics” but in the main the native peoples of these islands who are seriously concerned about immigration, Islamification, the EU, and the economic incompetence of the present government.
Ironically there was much better programme on BBC1 straight after QT - This Week, chaired by Andrew Neil, featuring the cosy couple Diane Abbot and Michael Portillo, with guest Alan Davis – aka Jonathan Creek or the guy who always loses on QI.
Diane Abbot was worried that Nick Griffin’s performance on Question Time would have won him the sympathy vote from the northern working classes. She also said the Labour Party had taken its working class vote for granted because they have nowhere else to go – and it turns out they did have somewhere else to go – the BNP.
Alan Davis, showing a lot more perspicacity than he does on QI, reckoned that the only real way to defeat the BNP was to address the issues which concern BNP supporters rather than just attacking the leader. This, of course, is completely true but it’s close to inconceivable that any of the LibLabCon would actually take that to heart.
This morning’s papers are full of reviews claiming Nick Griffin has been shown up; is a broken man; was soundly trounced. And yet – the online opinion polls at the very same papers are showing growing support, and of course, the BNP website has collapsed under the load of the interest generated - again.