Friday, 23 October 2009

Griffin and Question Time - the verdict

What are we to make of the appearance of Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, on last night's BBC Question Time? I'll kick off by saying that I got it wrong in my last post about Griffin being isolated at the end of the table - the reality was that he sat next to chairman David Dimbleby with Bonnie Greer the coloured American born playwright and critic on his other side. These two were on Dimbleby's left (or right when viewed from the audience) whilst the representatives from the three main parties formed a triumvirate on his other side.

It became obvious from the start that the format of the programme could be summed up as "Operation Get Griffin" because it was almost entirely devoted to a character assassination of the BNP leader. Now I was quite happy in one sense to see his facade of bogus acceptability torn away but was QT the right forum in which to do this in as much as this appeared to be the sole intention of the other panel members and it has to be said David Dimbleby as well.

Unsurprisingly comment today has been very polarised in response to the programme. On reflection I suppose it was always going to involve strong personality attacks rather than discussion about current policies and events. We should remember that this country has a strong tradition of wishing to see fair play and of supporting the underdog and I think that there are quite a few people who don't support the BNP but who nevertheless have reservations about what turned out to be five against one (this is including Mr Dimbleby) and so maybe a one to one interview to expose what the BNP are standing for should have been the way forward. Jeremy Paxman on 'Newsnight' seems an obvious candidate for this. Griffin on QT was able to get the sympathy vote from some.

Immigration got an airing on the show and this seems to be a subject attracting some normally Labour voters to the BNP. It's a bit like the Tories losing votes to UKIP - these minor parties may never get an MP under the first past the post system but they could do enough damage to the two main parties to cause the latter to lose their seats to the LibDems as an example. Factor in at the next General Election the voter's discontent about the mainstream parties following the expenses scandal and many current MPs standing down and who knows what will happen. Interesting times indeed.

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