London fascist week

Nick Griffin must think all his birthdays have come at once.

From the first dawn of new year 2009, the mainstream media and blogosphere have united in giving the British National Party the one thing they crave; massive and widespread coverage. For around six months the topic was “How we can stop the BNP being elected to Brussels”. When the North West of England, and Yorkshire & Humber elected one BNP member each, the former being Griffin himself, a brief flurry of discussion later has lead to a new target: the BBC, in allowing Griffin to appear on Question Time, is now in the firing range.

Deluded rent-a-quote Peter Hain, MP for Neath and Welsh Secretary – so in other words, Minister For Having Nothing To Do With How the BBC Conducts Itself – has been ranting like a wind-up toy for weeks about nothing else. He called the BNP “illegal”, which must come as some shock to the Electoral Commission whose Register of Political Parties includes them just as they do almost every other group wishing to stand in elections. In Mr Hain’s imaginarium, the BNP probably do not exist. Or else, perhaps, they do; Griffin is only one below the Archbishop of Canterbury in order of precedence, and Question Time is a CGI-laden one-off event broadcast across all frequencies and watched by literally everyone.

The BBC are completely within their rights to ask Griffin to appear on Question Time, just as they are completely within their rights not to ask a card-carrying member of the Monster Raving Loony Party: much to the annoyance of people like Hain, Nick Griffin has gone and achieved the sort of democratic mandate every trick in the book was supposed to deny. “No Platform” has resulted in dozens of councillors, a GLA member, and 2 MEPs. The one thing which could have stopped the tide of BNP success – face-to-face discussion – was dismissed as being something akin to collusion or agreement.

Allowing Griffin to appear in all his pudgy wonky-eyed glory will “prove the lie” on the strength of his party and their policies. Jack Straw represents Blackburn, so should know a thing or two about the realities of racial relations in a multi-ethnic town. Bonnie Greer has her own perspective on the difficulties – and consequences – of racism far beyond our shores. On any subject other than race – and there’s quite a few news stories circulating at the moment – Griffin will struggle. Anyone who has seen UKIP leader Nigel Farage shoehorn Europe into every single answer he’s asked to provide know how tiring it becomes hearing the subject heave-hoed up the hill each and every time.

Griffin will hang himself with his own words. It’s not as though his other interviews and appearances have ever been successful in reinventing his reputation. Those who wish to deny his voice on QT forget just how many blogs and YouTube appearances the man is getting even as I type. Let democracy and the democratic process actually happen, on a respected and popular television programme, and then react.

There are a lot of extremists on the left-wing who forget that the “spectrum of politics” can so easily be displayed not as a straight-line, but as a circle…

Nick Griffin has the X factor

Funny thing, BBC Question Time. Like maintaining imperial measurements or scrapping salad cream, it is one of those subjects which causes all manner of reaction (often beyond all proportion) whenever it makes the newspages or headlines. By suggesting that British National Party members, such as leader and North West MEP Nick Griffin, may be invited to Question Time due to rules on “due impartiality”, both sides of the aged “freedom of speech” debate have gone into fits of panic.

Nick Griffin appearing on Question Time, like so many politicians and commentators do every week, is a no-brainer for me. Give him a platform and hopefully he will hang himself the moment the first question is posed.

It is a weird thing, this reaction people give to Griffin and the BNP in general, as though there exists some telepathic force, some magic trait, some unfathomable “X-factor” – to coin a phrase – which turns hitherto sane individuals into fits of race-hate and Holocaust denial whenever they hear members of the BNP speak. This gives the British National Party far too much credibility than they really deserve. I heard Grffin speak on BBC News only the other week, the man laughing and chortling with self-satisfied glee mixed with ignorant panic whenever faced with a direct question. He is neck-high in denial, denial which reaches from the true nature of his constitution to the extreme socialist economic policy in their manifesto.

“No platform” stances do not work. Ultimately it is the same as running around a playground going “la la la”. To give Griffin even a few minutes on a show like Question Time, where he cannot suddenly call the filming to stop when faced with questions he doesn’t like, will shine a very bright light on the reality of his shallow policies and ignorant rhetoric.

If Griffin really does have some magical force, some ingredient in his voice which brainwashes voters (as it was apparently thought of Gerry Adams when his voice was dubbed on television in the 1980s), then what better platform to reveal how over-diluted and watery it is than facing the “court of public opinion”. It would really be like the X-Factor then, Griffin having has much credibility as the off-tune nobodies who cannot believe the sound of their own voice is going down so badly.

Mark Reckons is a fellow LibDem who shares my view.

Question Time – news doesn’t stop…

During a highly charged debate on BBC Question Time about the proposed ban on the burqa in France, news started to filter through Twitter and blogs about Michael Jackson. Some newspapers – okay, the New York Times and gossip blogs – declared he was dead long before the mainstream media. In a peculiar way, the argument on Question Time occurring while such headlines were breaking in real time made the whole situation all the more bizarre and unreal. The “prince of pop”, such a troubled and complex man, such an enigmatic talent, taking the headlines and news-time over the discussion and debate to be had today, tomorrow, and in every pub across the land.

Gossip spreads faster on-line, and in this modern age it seems a well worded Facebook status and spam email can heal some kind of mental wound. Bad-taste jokes spread like mould – some phrased well enough to raise a smile regardless of taste.

Celebrity has a certain wealth, a heavy pressure, wiping from the screens death in Iran, alleged fraud in Parliament…The strength of the famous stars, so shocking when they are shown to be as fragile humans as the fans who pay their wages.

And the burqa? Onwards with the debate on freedom of speech and expression. For the time being the headlines sidestep any forensic debate while they focus on Michael Jackson…

BBC Question Time

Blogger Iain Dale tells us that 22 Labour ministers were too scared to turn up on BBC Question Time. As it goes, the show tonight was quite interesting. And not a blanked ████, ████, or ████ ████ at all in sight.

On expenses, the same old story has moved on with the on-line publication of expenses with most detailed “redacted”. Of course the lines were – it’s not our fault, it’s the system. Fair play to Liberal Democrat Ed Davey on showing signs of openness. I am not sure Esther Rantzen, coming across as a member of the “Bleeding Obvious Party”, will not go through the streets of Luton being welcomed by all if she maintains her matronly attitude.

Ken Clarke attempted to dig himself and his party out of the problems with leaving the EPP-ED. The problem with the European Parliament is the fixed number of parties and people needed to form a valid group. David Cameron’s Conservatives are going to have to sit with some extreme and prejudiced people from the East. He will learn to regret his desire not to sit among the more credible Christian Democrats.

Gordon Brown’s decision to blather “10 per cent!” every response was rightly given the thumbs down. We are a nation in serious debt, almost entirely because of Gordon Brown’s personal mistakes and mishandling of our finances. Of course this nation is going to have to cut back on spending, either that or higher taxes. Some honesty, as ever, will be welcomed.

Question Time remains somewhat outdated – suggesting Ceefax rather than Twitter, for example. But the topics remain as up to date and relevant as ever. What a pity that our Labour Cabinet (those cowardly █████) could not be bothered to answer to anyone.