Monday, September 07, 2009

BNP welcomes chance to appear on BBC's Question Time.

I suppose I understand the BBC's point in inviting the BNP to have a place on Question Time - "all ideas must circulate freely in a democracy" and all that - but it still leaves me feeling profoundly queasy.

And yes, I understand that the BBC have had minority parties on before, such as the Green Party and UKIP, but the BNP is a party which excludes non-Caucasians from joining it's ranks, so it is quite unique and different from those other minority parties.

One would hope that the other political parties will send along guests to argue vociferously and expose what the BNP actually stand for, but the danger is that we bestow on the BNP a respectability which their views certainly do not deserve.

A BBC spokeswoman said it was obliged to treat all legal political parties registered with the Electoral Commission with due impartiality. "Our audiences – and the electorate – will make up their own minds about the different policies offered by elected politicians," she said.

A Labour party spokesman said the BBC's decision had forced it to review its position of never sharing a platform with the BNP, while the Conservatives said they would treat Griffin's appearance on Question Time like "any other programme" and would ensure a senior Tory was present to counter his arguments.

"We have seen the BNP do well in areas where people haven't been prepared to tackle them and now they are elected we have got to face up to that reality," said a Conservative spokesman.

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "If they're being given the opportunity to debate, then we will appear with them and do our best to argue against them vigorously and to shut out their support."

One anti-fascist group has already said it will stage a demonstration outside Broadcasting House this week to protest against the BBC's decision. Weyman Bennett from Unite Against Fascism accused the corporation of being "complacent and naive" by treating the BNP as a "normal political party". He said: "We will send the BBC a letter saying that it's not legitimate to give them a platform of respectability when they have a policy of discriminating against people on grounds of race."

No BNP candidate has ever been elected to the British parliament, and in the 2005 election they managed to take a mere 0.7% of the vote nationwide.

They have had some success in local elections, where they have some 52 councillors, and they recently won two seats in the European parliament; but, it is their lack of representation in the British parliament which I would say most undermines their legitimacy for a place on Question Time.

As I say, I understand the argument behind the BBC's decision, but I can't help but worry that we are on a very slippery slope here, giving them a legitimacy which their support amongst the British electorate simply does not warrant.


The Independent have managed to find a positive way to look at this most recent development:

Keeping the BNP in a form of media quarantine has also helped create an undeserved mystique about the party's true strength. In reality, for all the talk of the BNP becoming a serious force, its prospects are poor. The party can only look with envy on the relative success of far-right parties in France, Italy, Austria and elsewhere. It is true that the BNP enjoyed some success in the last European elections, but it has never won a seat in Parliament or ever even controlled a local council. It remains a fringe party that attracts a disproportionate amount of attention through the artful management of "rows".

We should deny Mr Griffin the opportunity he craves to be at the centre of another furore and let him appear on Question Time. We should be confident that the more the BNP is exposed to daylight, the less attractive it will prove to be.

One can only hope that this is the effect their appearance will have.

Click title for full article.

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