Nick Griffin on TV

by Richard on October 23, 2009

I watched BNP leader Nick Griffin on Question Time last night, and I still find myself in two minds about whether the BBC did the right thing in having him on.

On the positive side, he came out of it looking a fool. Mind you, the other panelists didn’t exactly cover themselves with glory Bonnie Greer being the honourable exception), and framing an argument to make Griffin look ridiculous is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel.

Negatively, the whole show was essentially given over to a ‘debate’ about the vile nonsense that the BNP espouse. So while I’m glad he was on in one sense, it did mean that many other urgent issues went undiscussed.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }


malc 10.23.09 at 11:53 am

I thought she did ok as well, though The Times only gave her a 2/10 for her performance… but what do they know, eh??

No killer, knock-down blown on Griffon, but I guess that you would have needed a William Hauge or a Ian Hislop for that.


tortoise 10.23.09 at 12:20 pm

I did enjoy the moment when, claiming that European Law prevented him from explaining his views on the Holocaust, Griffin immediately had his bluff called by Jack Straw as Justice Secretary.


Greg Wiley 10.23.09 at 12:59 pm

I think the BBC did the right thing by letting Griffin as it really did show him up to be a fool as tortoise highlights above, but also because it’s taken any high ground he might have been able to claim if the BBC had refused or worse reversed it’s decision. He can’t now claim to have not had the chance to put his views out there. It was a shame the demonstration had to happen outside the BBC as it gave Griffin what ammunition he could salvage from the episode.

I too thought Bonnie was the best of the rest as she kept calm and didn’t overtly stoop to taking pot shots like the others which only served to make them look childish (it seemed to descend into playground taunting in places).


malc 10.23.09 at 1:21 pm

Hehe, yes the ‘I would love to tell you why I no longer think this, but European Law prevents me’ comment was pure class and goes to show just how ignorant he really is!!


Olive Morgan 10.23.09 at 1:42 pm

It was not a typical Question Time at all. I believe that the area in which it was held could have meant an audience likely to be very anti Griffin. This would have presupposed the type of questions to be asked - and the BBC chooses which of these are selected. I wonder if there were any other questions of a more general nature.


Richard 10.23.09 at 2:17 pm

You’re right Malc - it would have been good to have Ian Hislop on there!


Kim 10.23.09 at 3:03 pm

Yes, Griffin was made to look an ignorant as well as odious jerk. The problem was that he was so overwhelmed and isolated (as far as I remember lacking a single supportive voice) that he was also made to look bullied.

And, yes, Greer was the only intellectual heavyweight among the antagonists. I too agree with Malc that Ian Hislop would have been a superb combatant, for while BNPers can take the flak, they can’t stand having the piss taken.

One thing that continues to disturb and incense me: on the issue of immigration, which the main parties are said to be dodging (hence the appeal, so say the editorialists, of the BNP), yet when their spokespersons are challenged directly they always do concede, or even trumpet, the necessity of “ceilings” and “caps” without challenging the unspoken assumption behind the euphemism of “immigration” itself, viz. that the issue is, in fact, not numbers as such but - you guessed it - race, or at least “otherness”. That is, insofar as people are “concerned” or “worried” about immigration, it’s not about, say, Australians or north Europeans, it’s about Asians and east Europeans, and I am waiting for the the leader with the integrity and guts to say so. Otherwise the main parties themselves are, in effect, colluding with the xenophobia of the BNP.


Jesse 10.23.09 at 3:12 pm

One of the things which I found interesting was that Griffin spend most of the time denying that he believes the things he’s said. If you think they are indefensible, why do you believe them yourself? He came off very badly, even for him and I would bet that many of the people who voted BNP in the European elections will now regret that they supported this man.


malc 10.23.09 at 5:37 pm

I did so want someone to say for the only non-BNP question that; “I’m afraid I didn’t read the article as I don’t read the Daily Mail” but alas…

I honestly can’t believe that anyone could expect that any show with the BNP making it’s debut appearance wasn’t going to be dominated by the policies and personality of the leader. Especially considering all the fuss that organizations, like United Against Facism, have been making.

Chances are that if a fuss hadn’t been made the viewing figures wouldn’t have really been any higher than normal and we’d have more topics covered… and we’d discovered that the BNP really is a one policy party… and it’s not the most impressive policy!!


Olive Morgan 10.24.09 at 8:47 am

No-one has mentioned, in connection with Nick Griffin on Question Time, the Methodist Conference ruling that no member of the BNP should be allowed to become a member of the Methodist Church. This is picked up by Brett Royal under the title of “British Methodists and Inclusivity” in his blog
where he writes -

“If we are in the business of banning racism, let’s ban everybody since we are all guilty of subtle, if not blatant forms of racism?”

“Is there a single example where someone in the BNP wants to become a Methodist?”

“BNP craziness deserves condemnation. But should these churches focus on the BNP, whose appeal is fortunately almost microscopic, while remaining silent about far more potent threats to Britain, such as radical Islam?”

I have always been so glad and proud that the Methodist Church was so inclusive, being especially concerned (as Jesus was) for the sinners, the lost, the foolish, the mistaken.


Kim 10.24.09 at 11:13 am

Hi Olive,

It may be - indeed it probably is - true that there is a racist in each of us, just as there is certainly a murderer in each of us. But racism is not just a distorted desire, it is a warped ideology - indeed it is a heresy (cf. the designation of apartheid as a heresy by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in 1982). Even apart from the exceptional moral repugnance of this particular heresy, that is why its proponents should be denied membership (not attendance) in any Christian Church. After all, you do not receive unitarians into membership of the Methodist Church, do you? - and unitarianism is hardly intrinsically morally repugnant!

One other thing - that last (anonymous) quote. I’m afraid that the appeal of the BNP is hardly “microscopic”: in a poll conducted on Friday, the day after Griffin’s shambolic display on Question Time, over 20% said that they would consider voting for the BNP, and (as I suggested above) xenophobia is a growing problem in the UK in which all the main political parties are colluding (cf. Diane Abbott’s article in today’s Independent, “Dark times for the debate on immigration”). Conversely, to talk of “radical Islam” as a “potent threat” to Britain is sheer scare-mongering, precisely the kind of thing I would expect - from a member of the BNP.


Olive Morgan 10.24.09 at 12:09 pm

It doesn’t sound as though you have read the whole of Brett Royal’s post. He writes as a layman ‘across the pond’ in the UMC and so can be forgiven for calling the appeal of the BNP ‘microscopic’, but I wouldn’t have writeen about ‘radical Islam’ as he does - though I felt he had a point that was worth airing.


Kim 10.24.09 at 1:45 pm

Yup, I read it. In fact, it was reading the whole post that prompted my response for a UK context.

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