Friday, 23 October 2009

A sideways look at Nick Griffin's "Question Time"

That's effectively what it was. The entire programme revolved round him. Well in advance of the actual transmission it was clear that the BNP leader was being used to attract publicity for the programme, an impression that was confirmed by the inordinate coverage given this morning by BBC outlets - including, sadly, Radio Wales - to the show.

The party's spin doctor complained this morning about the concentration on Griffin and the policies that the BNP is most well-known for. In private he must have been cheering. If other topics of the moment - the economy, for instance - had been discussed, the lack of coherent policy across the board would have been exposed. I remember from one of my previous election hustings that the flakiness of the nationalist fringe candidate (either UKIP or Referendum Party) was really exposed when questioning moved away from his comfort zone. We had some hint of that last night when the one serious non-race question, that of homophobia, came up.

I am not as great a fan of Bonnie Greer as Peter Black evidently is, judging by his view of last night's proceedings, but I thought she did a more thorough demolition job on Nick Griffin than the other members of the panel by patronising him - or, rather, by dealing with him as a nanny would treat a wayward charge.

I would also agree with Peter Black that Chris Huhne did well, in spite of his being excluded for long periods by David Dimbleby. It was unfortunate that Huhne appeared to pander to the Conservative/BNP anti-EU line by bringing up the subject of the free market in labour being opened up to East European accession countries, something that was seized on by the cunning Griffin.

I thought Griffin destroyed one of his party's own arguments by citing the persistence of male DNA through from Iron Age remains to the present day. As Bonnie Greer had pointed out, soldiers - though not necessarily citizens, as she suggested - from all over the Roman Empire, including North Africa, had been posted to legions garrisoning this country for the four hundred years of the empire. Many must have settled. Since then, there have been waves of immigration, largely fleeing persecution on the continent, yet the character of Britain has hardly changed. If we can stand two millennia of migration, then the restricted* inflow of the current decade is hardly going to alter things.

Dimbleby's concentration on Griffin had another unfortunate side-effect: the policies of the three major parties were not examined. I would have thought that Baroness Warsi's position was uncomfortably close to that of BNP, for instance, and Chris Huhne's attack on the government's lack of control was not answered by Jack Straw.

"Question Time" didn't tell me anything new about the BNP, but it did confirm what a slippery character Nick Griffin is. It was summed up for me by his assertion that David Duke was a member of a nice chapter of the Ku Klux Klan when he had posed with Griffin, but had since gone to the bad.

*It would be minimal if the government policed its own laws effectively

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Like Valleys Mam pointed out in Peter's Blog, it very much was a "Nick Griffin Special"

I understand that Nick Griffin has put in a complaint about the program, about the fact that the format of the program was changed.

There were very few white faces in the audiance, which again plays into the BNPs hands. I agree with you, in private he must have been cheering.