BBC`s Question Time and BNP`s Nick Griffin: Stumbling Into The Mainstream, Against A Wall Of Bias


On Thursday night, October 22,
Nick Griffin, the
leader of the British
National Party
(BNP) was invited by the
BBC to
appear on

Question Time
. This is the most important
political discussion programme in Britain. Its format is
typically a panel—Government ministers and senior
representatives of the main political parties—that takes
questions from an audience of the general public. It is
watched every week by millions, and it has considerable
influence as a shaper and as a mirror of public opinion.

Inviting Mr Griffin onto the panel was both acceptance
that he and his party must be recognised as part of the
political spectrum within Britain, and was a first-class
opportunity for him to put his opinions directly to the
largest audience he has ever faced.

Now, in reviewing his performance, I must confess that
I do not support Griffin or his party. I am a
libertarian, not a
white
nationalist.
If I am inclined to vote for any
political party in Britain, it is for the

UK Independence Party
, which campaigns specifically
for withdrawal from the

European Union
, and is generally a sort of

Conservative Party
in exile.

This is not a disclaimer made out of fear that I shall
somehow be

smeared
myself as a

white nationalist
, but out of honesty. I will try to
be fair to Mr Griffin. Indeed, I will avoid commenting
on his opinions, and stay so far as I can to the
technical aspects of his performance.

Mr Griffin and many of his supporters have spent the
time since the broadcast claiming that the BBC showed an
open and disgraceful bias against Mr Griffin. They are
right. There is no doubt that it was intended that he
should be treated unfairly. The other panellists were

Jack Straw
, Minister of Justice,

Sayeeda Warsi
, a Conservative politician,
Chris
Huhne
, a senior

Liberal Democrat
, and

Bonnie Greer
, a
black
American woman
who has somehow been
made a
Trustee
of the

British Museum
. The programme was filmed in London,
which is now perhaps the most racially diverse city in
Europe.

From the opening minutes, it was plain that this would
not be—nor was planned to be—a normal episode of
Question Time. The other panellists had conferred and brought along
set speeches of denunciation, which the Presenter,

David Dimbleby
, both allowed and encouraged. Indeed,
he joined in with hostile questions of his own.

It is unlikely that the audience had been fed questions
to put. It was hardly necessary, bearing in mind the
demographic profile—quite unlike Mr Griffin`s
own electoral base
. The questions were universally
hostile. So were most of the audience comments.

Rather than
Question Time
, this was an hour in which Nick
Griffin was put on trial before the nation, following
the sort of process that a

Communist police state
might have envied. It was all
set up to be grossly unfair.

I believe that Mr Griffin is planning a formal
complaint to the BBC about

bias
. Sadly, he is missing the point. Whatever
unfairness was meant, he was given the opportunity of a
lifetime to do two things—first, to show the world that
he was

not
a sinister crank; second, to tell the world
directly and in brief what he was in politics to
achieve. Judged in terms of this opportunity, his
performance was an embarrassing failure.

He did make two points very well. The first was to
defend his claim that Islam was a
“wicked and
vicious”
religion. This is a claim that,
astonishingly,

got him into court
a few years ago, and for which he
might, had he been found guilty, have gone to prison for
seven years. He explained himself with great authority,
and the Moslems in the audience were reduced to the
defence made by every religious enthusiast—that their

holy book
had been misquoted or

misunderstood
.

His second good point was to remind the world that Jack
Straw might be uttering

sanctimonious
platitudes about
fascism
and
“Islamophobia”
, but was also a member of a
government that had helped murder not far off a million
Iraqis in a war of military aggression.

But that was it. Otherwise, Griffin squirmed and
fidgeted his way through several questions and
accusations that he could easily have turned in his own
favour.

The most important of these came when Mr Dimbleby
accused him of having denied the Holocaust. Griffin`s
answer at first was that he had never been convicted of
Holocaust Denial. He then claimed that he had changed
his mind on the basis of some radio intercepts, and
added that he was unable to elaborate because of
European
law
.

When Mr Straw pointed out that there was no law in this
country against denying any historical claim, and
promised, as Minister of Justice, to shield him against
any

extradition
request from elsewhere in the European
Union, Griffin had no answer.

This came right at the beginning of the programme, and
it told me beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Griffin
either had done nothing to prepare himself for the
ordeal, or had been prepared with crass incompetence.
Since I would not accept the post, it is no loss for me
that I am unlikely ever to be invited to advise him on
handling the media. But if I had been his adviser, I
would have given him the following response to the
absolutely

predicable question about the Holocaust
:



“I came into the nationalist movement thirty five years
ago. I was drawn in because I believed that it answered
the question of why
this
country had been dragged into the sewer
. I still
believe broadly in that answer. However, I have now
realised that how much falsehood is mingled in with that
truth. I denied the holocaust without examination as
part of a package. I have now looked at the evidence and
have changed my mind. You can think what you like of me.
But I bet I`m the only politician you have seen here in
a long time who admits to having looked at facts and
changed his mind on their basis.”

He could then have brought in the point he made
elsewhere in the programme—his

support for Israel
. I suspect this would have shut
down that whole line of attack. Someone might have
accused him of lying about his present beliefs. But that
is always a weak argument.

The second idiotic answer came near the end of the
programme. Some popular singer had recently been
found dead in a Spanish hotel bedroom
—I understand
it was drink or drugs. Some journalist had then written
an

article for The
Daily Mail
, claiming that this was proof that
the homosexual lifestyle was morally corrupt.

Everyone on the panel—as is required—joined in the
condemnations of the journalist. Mr Griffin began in the
same tone, and then announced that many people in this
country found something
“creepy” in the sight of two men kissing.

Of course, this is probably correct. It is not a
feeling shared by the liberal establishment—and I am,
for what it may be worth, a semi-detached member of that
establishment. But not everyone shares our state of
“enlightenment”.
Nevertheless, my mouth fell open at what Mr Griffin
said.

Again, had I been advising him, this is what he might
have said:

“I share the condemnation of this article. I uphold the right of
The Daily Mail
to publish it, but despise the idea of attacking the
dead.

“But I would say that, wouldn`t I? After all, I know all about
The Daily Mail`s
idea of fairness. If many of the people here tonight
think I am the most evil man alive in Britain, it is
probably because of some smear against me

published
in that `newspaper`.”

He could then have joined to this the subsequent point
he made: that BNP policy was to leave people alone in
their private actions, but to

forbid
the

preaching of homosexuality to schoolchildren.

Griffin ended by adding that he had been responsible
for moving BNP policy to this from a promise to make all
homosexual relations illegal again.

By then, however, the harm was done. All the
predictable condemnations were washing over him even as
he was insisting on his own tolerance. He could have
turned his answer to an attack on one of his enemies and
flattened claims that he was a

sexual bigot.
He did not.

Though I am not a supporter of Mr Griffin`s party, I do
have much personal sympathy for him. Now that he has

dropped
National Socialism, he is normally an
effective and indeed eloquent spokesman for millions of
people in this country who feel, quite rightly, that
they have been deliberately ground into the dirt by both
Conservative and Labour Governments.

For being this voice, Griffin has faced the sort of

persecution
I would once not have thought possible
in England. He has been smeared. He has been

physically attacked.
It was only because a

jury
disagreed with the

State
that he was not sent to prison for saying
about Islam what may or may not be true, but that had
always so far been classed as fair comment. And still he
continues to state his opinions. For this, he deserves
both

sympathy and admiration.

But this does not cancel the fact that he was presented
with an enviable opportunity by the BBC and failed to
take advantage of it.

It may be that the sheer awfulness of his performance
will encourage the BBC to invite him back. After all,
the

BBC
is the public relations wing of the
Establishment, and its job is to destroy people like Mr
Griffin. It may now think that another few performances
like this will

see off the whole BNP threat
.

Perhaps it would. I have no doubt there are people in
the

north of England
who would vote BNP even had Mr
Griffin called for the slaughter of the first born. But
he is unlikely to gather in many middle class votes on
account of His
Question Time
appearance.

On the other hand, he might do better on his next
airing. Everyone has the occasional bad night, and he
almost certainly has the ability to do better.

In closing, I will simply repeat what I have said in my
other articles about the BNP. This is that, while the
party is no longer national socialist in any meaningful
sense, it is far from being a good vehicle for the
opinions that it now claims to hold.

This is not because of any possibility that its leaders
are hoping to lie their way into power, and then pull
off the mask of reasonableness. It is simply because of
what its leaders used to be and used to say. Any party
that wants to roll back the

Politically Correct police state
now

imposed
on my country will face inevitable
demonization. The BNP is just too ideal a target for
demonization.

However much he may have brought it on himself, Mr
Griffin was treated unfairly by the BBC.

On the other hand, anything that depresses his chances
of replacing the Conservatives after their inevitable
future collapse, increases the chance that their
replacement will be UKIP—for all its faults a more
trustworthy and more electable choice.

[VDARE.COM note: the London
Daily Telegraph
reported on Friday that its post-programme polling
showed an increase in BNP support—22% would now consider
voting for the BNP, and more than half felt the BNP
“had a point”
.



One in five `would consider voting BNP` after Nick
Griffin Question Time appearance
,
by Rosa Prince, October 23, 2009
]



Dr. Sean Gabb



[
Email
him
]
is a writer, academic, broadcaster and Director of the


Libertarian
Alliance

in England. His monograph Cultural Revolution,
Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to
Get It Back
is downloadable



here
.
For his account of the



Property and Freedom Society`s 2008 conference

in Bodrum, Turkey, click



here
.
For his address to the 2009 PFS conference, “What is
the Ruling Class?”
, click



here
;
for videos of the



other presentations
,
click


here
.