Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Question Time balls-up

Ooh aren’t we all jolly well looking forward to the big bunfight on tomorrow’s Question Time? Won’t we all get into a good lather?

Nick Cohen links to a set of euphemisms that the BNP commonly uses to disguise its racist policies ("identity" rather than "racial purity" etc), so you could add to your enjoyment of the programme by playing Neo-Nazi Obfuscation Bingo if you wanted.

The more I think about this, the less justification there seems to be for the BBC’s decision to allow Nick Griffin (and now his supporters) onto the programme. If this was a European Parliament special, there might be some semblance of duty to give the BNP airtime, given their MEP seats. But they have no MPs and, for as long as we operate a first-past-the-post electoral system, they almost certainly never will. So there’s no strong democratic imperative to invite them to speak. I mean, it’s not like anyone gives a toss about the European Parliament, is it?

The other line is: give them the oxygen of publicity and they’ll choke; their arguments will be exposed as the nonsense they are. I suspect this is over-optimistic. First, anyone with the sufficient mental capacity to spot an ‘exposed’ argument on an episode of Question Time already knows the BNP are scumbags, so few minds are likely to be changed however the debate goes. Second, Nick Griffin is a slimy, slippery political toad who is not going to blow his big chance by doing Nazi salutes and announcing in the first five minutes that ‘Wogs begin at Calais’. Instead, he’ll go through his Obfuscation Routine, talking calmly about ‘protecting British jobs’, attacking Labour for easy claps and pushing populist buttons on Iraq, MPs expenses and what have you. In fact, the inevitable section of the Question Time audience made up of hysterical right-on students and Mock the Week fans will probably make him appear reasonable by comparison.

Always do what your enemies least want you to do. Griffin most wants to be accepted as the kind of politician who gets invited onto Question Time. His Obfuscation Routine, don’t forget, has taken the BNP from a being a bunch of no-mark skinhead jokes to a small but reasonably professional political force, at least in PR elections. The BBC has just given him another little victory. It won’t amount to much in the greater scheme of things, but still, BNP victories of any scale stick in the throat.

Of course, I may be completely mistaken, he may be roundly trounced by his fellow QT guests and on Friday the BNP may be forced to disband because of this devastating ‘exposure’. In which case you can come back here on Friday morning and we’ll all say how glad we are that I was wrong.

12 comments:

worm said...

what a shame that Question Time doesn't have a gunge tank (yet)

Gaw said...

It's interesting how the BNP's rise has been all about appearances rather than substance. Their support hasn't gone up: they've just benefitted from the disastrous Euro election PR system and a crafty media strategy.

So they're only more visible because we're noticing them more. Perhaps we should start noticing them less? Not just on the Beeb but everywhere.

It's a tough one though - just like a scab, that you can't help picking...

I also wonder whether the next, probably Tory, government might be persuaded to go back to FPTP for the Euro elections?

malty said...

Question Time reminds me of those Marine theme parks, people throwing fish at seals.
Michael Burleigh's definitive book, The Third Reich, should be compulsory reading in schools, showing in fine detail how totalitarian states emerge from the primordial swamp. Armed with this knowledge emerging citizens would be forewarned and forearmed, ready to counter any group, whether they are from the left or right.
Germany has it's equivalent, the shadowy neo-Nazi's, these groups are prohibited from expressing their opinions and prevented from forming a political party. They do however still exist in some numbers, banning them has in no way eradicated them. A total ban on our own n-Ns would only drive them underground and fuel their hatred even more. Lets have them above ground, even if it's simply to ridicule them.

Brit said...

I can see the argument, Malty, but just how 'above ground' do we want them, is the question I suppose.

We wouldn't want them providing the text for the Queen's Christmas message, for example, or taking over the One Show for a week, whether they gave us a good laugh or not. I'd say the BNP were already sufficiently above ground, overground, wombling free. These days they're also media-savvy and so they want to be in the media as much as possible.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Racist!

Brit said...

Heh heh. Talking of which, I wonder what happened to Swineshead? No comment on the turd post below. Ah well, gone the way of Kingsnorth I suppose.

Gaw said...

He's probably a bit brawned off.

Huh. Huh.

martpol said...

I have to say I side with the BBC on this one, on the principle that the BNP is a serious political force (2 MEPs/1 million voters doesn't make them huge but it does make them serious) and its charter makes it duty-bound to give them some airtime.

The BBC doesn't make the law; and Peter Hain's argument doesn't seem to work because no authority has decided (yet) that the BNP is an illegal entity. Frankly I think it would be great if that happened and they were forcibly shut down. I don't buy the business about making them more dangerous by driving underground; the National Front is now essentially an "underground" fascist group but is taken seriously by virtually no-one.

Brit said...

There is another element to this, Martpol. If you're a black or Asian Briton and you live in an area where the BNP are strong, and you see them being increasingly legitimised by institutions like the BBC, the fires begin to be stoked.

martpol said...

True...Ken Livingstone made this point this morning, talking about increased racist violence after other fascists have been given a platform.

But no-one has (to my knowledge) made a convincing case that the BBC would be breaching its charter by having the BNP on; whereas they are probably doing so by not letting them on.

So they are put in a pretty difficult position, asked to prioritise an ethical stance (based on what may or may not happen after they show a particular programme) over following their own charter.

Outa_Spaceman said...

Maybe one way of divining the popularity or otherwise of the BNP after Mr. G's appearance would be to analyse the sales of Matalan county court style suits in the coming weeks...
An increase in sales would be a worrying trend...

O.S.M

Brit said...

Good point, OSM. Also the growth in strange wetlook side-parting haircuts.