I don't think this needs any real introduction: Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time has made front page news and even our friends over at the Stun are foregoing their usual Jordan-based headline to squeeze Jolly Saint Nick in.
Somewhat predictably, the far right backlash has started to kick in, attempting to make a martyr of hapless Mr Griffin. Let's look at their primary argument:
"Nick Griffin was victimised, not allowed to speak. The whole show was a Lefty set up"
Interesting accusation. Having applied to be in the audience, and having recieved a response from the BBC telling me they were rejecting my application on the basis of wanting a fair representation of pro/anti BNP politics in the audience (coupled with the occasional cheers for Nick Griffin heard on the show) I think it's fairly evident that the audience was not a hostile block of Guardian-reading lefty "knit your own yoghurt" types. Plenty of the aforementioned type in the audience, yes, but not the complete lefty whitewash theorised by Griffin's supporters. Griffin was offered several opportunities to speak, asked for his opinions on various matters along with the rest of the panel.
It's not the fault of the "Guardianistas" that whenever he did open his mouth a gust of nonsense escaped. It's not the fault of the 'liberals' that Nick Griffin spent more time laughing, trembling and grinning inanely than actually defend his policies and viewpoints. How can this man profess to aspire to becoming a 'mainstream' party if he can't cope with opposition? Did he expect people not to fiercely contest his divisive policies, his slapdash summary of Islam, his dressing up racism as 'immigration policy'? Really? Honestly?
The same people deriding the BBC and audience for "victimising" Mr Griffin are lapping up the same treatment of Jack Straw. Dimbleby's protestations that Straw answer the question, that he was evading the issue, were no more or less vehement than his protestations at Mr Griffin's constant refusal to properly answer any question posed to him. The same people railing at the audience for deriding and mocking Griffin are cheering at the same treatment afforded to Jack Straw. Hypocritical much?
That the audience responded by jeering was testament to Griffin's lack of coherence and the glaring idiocy of what he eventually did say. That they responded with personal remarks shows just how close to the bone the BNP's hateful policies cut. People with non-white friends and family, people with black parents or Asian partners or gay children - these are the people who hate the BNP. It's not a leftist conspiracy, it's the reasonable anger of those excluded, derided and hurt by Griffin's politics. Personal responses are entirely justified, in my opinion, by policies and statements which base themselves around the personal beliefs of the knuckle-dragging far right trolls the BNP call their support. If suggesting that gay men ought not kiss in public because it's 'creepy' isn't personal, then what is...?
When asked about his previous denial of the holocaust, Griffin replied 'I can't explain why I used to say those things. I cannot tell you any more than I can tell you why I changed my mind. I can't tell you the extent I changed my mind.' On homosexuality Griffin revealed himself both to be hideously intolerant and more than a little bit childish - "A lot of people find the sight of two grown men kissing in public very creepy" - before going on to slam "militant" homosexuals teaching kids about homosexuality (Invading a primary school near you!) It's astonishingly ill-thought out comments such as these that made Nick Griffin a laughing stock, not an 'orchestrated campaign'. The idea that Griffin was victimised by people who wanted to foster prejudice is hilariously ironic in the face of Griffin's own politics, which uses fear and misinformation to attack the "other", who talks of the evil in the Koran without stopping to consider the evil in the Christian Bible (how about this lovely quote about unbelievers?
"Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people." (Deuteronomy 13:8-9)"
Or about women?
"If however the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death..." (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)"
The point being, of course, that it is deeply ironic and misguided for this man to claim Islam to be a hateful religion based on his apparently cursory understanding of the Koran when clearly he is not aware that his own religious book preaches the same morals. And yet here he is, lambasting Islam and Sharia law without comprehending that the religion he wishes to base his society on is equally capable of throwing forth hateful, bigoted statements. Pot, kettle, indigenous.
The fact remains - and it is a fact - that the BNP are a party whose policies are not based in politics at all, but rather social commentary. A lot is being made of the manner in which Griffin was treated and yes, even I believe there could have been a little more decorum. But don't be fooled. Under the anger and the sniping it was clear that Griffin is an ineffectual racist. No amount of orchestrating from the left could have incriminated him more than he incriminated himself. What we saw, underneath the furore, was a man with a frail grasp of his own ideologies - unable to explain exactly what he meant by 'indigenous' (which is a farcial concept in itself given Britain's history of invasion and occupation spanning centuries) and ineffective in the face of criticism. He was unable to answer, when asked directly by an audience member, a key question regarding his wish to return Britain to it's 'great white roots' asked by a British Asian (of the type the BNP refutes the existence of) He repeated "I was misquoted" like a mantra despite Youtube providing primary evidence to the contrary. He was like a school bully with his pants pulled down.
It's shame the Question Time audience and panel didn't quiz Griffin on his party's policies beyond the issue of immigration and race. For seasoned BNP watchers like myself, the show just confirmed what we already knew - that Griffin is a parody of xenophobic hysteria, a one trick pony filled with hot air and soundbites and very little else. For the average viewer, tuning in out of curiosity or hoping to learn something, it was a massacre. A deserved massacre, and one which showed beyond doubt that the BNP have some truly abhorrent beliefs. But to question him about the economy, about education, about crime - these questions would have shone a torch upon the gaping hole in the BNP's manifesto. They don't have any ideas. They don't have any plans - beyond kicking out the forruns, they haven't actually thought of what to do with the country. The emperor may think otherwise, but he's definitely not wearing any clothes.
The BNP's popularity - and let's not forget that "popularity" is a very relative term - can be attributed solely to their occupation of a gap in British politics. They exploit the disenfranchisement of the working class (believe me, I am working class myself) by pretending that their problems are caused by brown people rather than the rich middle-class white man (of which Nick Griffin can count himself a member) and exploit the discontent of the middle classes, angry at the sharing of their previously exclusive privileges by telling them that when the country is emptied, they can go back to enjoying their perks. There are issues not being addressed by any of the major parties (not even you, Baroness Warsi, covering your rampant batshit homophobia under the guise of "not being quite as bad as Nick Griffin") but to believe that the BNP will address them with workable policies ("Pull up the drawbridge, shut the doors and kick out the wogs" is not a workable policy) is to be suckered in by Nick Griffin's snake oil patter. If Question Time showed us anything, it's that the BNP can't truly be considered a viable alternative, no matter what the failings of the Big Three might be.