Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rubber-necking Question Time

I have to admit that I am looking forward to watching Question Time tonight, but only in the sense of someone rubbernecking a road accident. There's a big part of me that wonders if it will degenerate into something hugely unedifying, which then runs the risk of allowing Nick Griffin to emerge from the programme either as a martyr or smelling of roses.

In my view the other panellists should view the programme as just a normal programme. And Griffin should be treated like any other guest. He should be allowed his say but questioned in exactly the same way as anyone else. Indeed, there shouldn't even be a question about the BNP.

Liam Murray was so right when he tweeted...
Thanks to UAF, Hain & others Griffin can pose tonight as a persecuted, abused minority; quite remarkable how ill-considered this furore is..

Isn't it also remarkable that whenever freedom of speech is at issue, some people on the left tend to show their true colours. No platforming never achieved anything, apart from giving the authoritarians who promote it a warm feeling in their hearts.

The four other panellists tonight will have been given lots of advice from many people over the last few days. They should ignore it all and treat it like any other edition of the programme. There should be no manufactured fights, no grandstanding and no vicious attacks. That's what Griffin wants. His whole agenda in the programme will be to play the hurt, innocent bystander who is merely trying to put his argument forward but is being shouted down.

The trouble is, whatever the panellists might do, the audience may decide to behave very differently.

What a shame it isn't going out live!


Unknown said...

100% Agree

It did not work with Gerry Adams, it wont work with the BNP.

I honestly wonder about the people who preach about tolerance and then think its ok to deny a party the right to speak. Whether we like them or not they have 2 MEPs and how you beat them is by going after them in debate.

Anonymous said...

If Griffin says something that could be seen as interpreted as inciting racial hatred do you think that the BBC should cut it out of the broadcast transmission and then hand it to the Police as evidence?

I would presume you would given that Conservatives usually believe in upholding the law.

Boo said...

I wonder if part of the problem is that we are not permitted by the left to speak of certain subjects. We know there are problems. We know the answers are probbably difficult and not easily fit in a ten word slogan. However, we cannot voice such concerns for being smeared.

So much with the left seems to be an article of faith, and those guilty of apostasy are to be castigated until the point when you can nolonger think such views.

The problem does not go away, with the brightest and the best gagged, it is left to the fringes to shout at each other.

Anonymous said...

I do remember in my youth being at a Fabian meeting in Cambridge which was disrupted when someone who looked very like Nick Griffin threw a firework into the room.

Having suffered temporary deafness for a period of 1 to 2 hours as a result I do find it highly ironic that Griffin is now a beneficiary of the freedom of speech which he seeks to destroy for others at every opportunity - but I suppose decent people always have to aspire to higher standards that the evil ones.

One would hope that the Police are scrutinising the text of what Griffin says so that the moment he makes a single comment inciting racial hatred he is subject to the full force of the law. And as the programme is not being transmitted live - I trust the BBC will be ready to cut out any such illegal statements prior to transmission.

Anonymous said...

I'm chuckling at just how badly the left has handled this. Tonights Questiontime has gotten MASSIVE publicity which has been entirely due to the left's mishandling. I expect tonight questiontime will perhaps have one of it's biggest ever audiences!
How ironic

Anonymous said...

Debate immigration? ZaNu Labour? Conservative? Liberals?

No, sorry, that's exactly why 1 million people voted BNP at the last Euro elections. Until the chattering classes, media luvvies and politcos realise two things: -

1) How much they are hated by those lower down the ladder, and

2) An immigration and open borders policy is OPEN to discussion

nothing will change and the BNP vote will, unfortunately, increase.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen Jean-Marie Le Pen talk about how support for the National Front doubled overnight when he went on a similar programme back in the '80s? Are you not at all concerned that Griffin's presence on such a programme will legitimise the BNP to the average voter?

You're making an assumption that all of the electorate are as bright as you, will sit down, listen to what he says, analyse his views and then decide he's a racist idiot. Most won't even watch it, but will be well aware that he's going on the programme. Those that do watch it will see him behave like a very normal and sensible politician - particularly if, as you argue, the rest of the panellists treat him perfectly normally.

His appearance on the programme can only increase their support. They're not going to lose support - people idiotic enough to support them before aren't going to have the good sense to re-consider based on what they see tonight.

I really am surprised you're so relaxed about this Iain?

English First said...

Mr Griffin will destroy Straw! Fancy a debate on Heath?
BTW the UAF IS funded by the EU!

Anonymous said...

Given the Beeb's propensity to stuff the audience with left-leaning council empoyees and naïve students, I suspect that Griffin will get what he wants - a baying, booing mob.

Compared to that, he'll find it easy to look reasonable. Calm, measured deconstruction of his arguments would of course be the best way to go, but it won't happen.

Anonymous said...

Possibly Labour are getting all flustered because so many of the far left wing BNP policies are not disimilar to their own. Which explains why they only do well in traditional Labour areas.........

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

There currently looks like there are about 26 Police, at least half of which are "Pissos" at the main gates of the BBC, keeping out about 1000 "dog-on-a-string" types.

At about 8.30 tonight, too late to do anything about it, security at the BBC will "be breached" and recording will be stopped.

Such is Freedom of Speech in England.

Anonymous said...

The real danger here is that left wing 'liberal fascist' demands for the suppression of the BNP will, if acted upon, simply lead its frustrated supporters to seek extra-parliamentary violence as the only remaining alternative. After all, Sinn Fein/PIRA showed that it is possible to bomb and shoot your way to political respectability. Attempts to ban the BNP from expressing its views (or even existing) really could lead to 'bullets, not ballots' and Enoch Powell's prediction of blood in the streets will then come true. Is that what New Labour and its anti-free speech allies really want?

dazmando said...

I agree but thats too UAF and Hain the first question tonight will be. Should the BNP be allowed to appear on Question Time? Thanks going to be very weird

Conand said...

I rather tend to agree with Boo.

Anonymous said...

Why all the fuss?, the EUBC have extremists on the panel every week, notably members of the far-left wing Labour Regime, and we have had an extremist party in power for almost THIRTEEN years.

The far left are just as bad as the far right.

Man in a Shed said...

The intervention of Peter Hain is especially suspect.

He ensured this was the topic of the week playing for multiple days in the media.

Is he acting as an outrider for the Labour Party (the party of the media board and news control) in whipping this up to help the I'll even vote Labour to Stop the BNP vote- especially amongst scared minorities ?

Because otherwise he's got this very wrong indeed.

Norton Folgate said...

You know the least the Tories could have done was put someone up that was actually elected by the voters.

Not a sheep said...

The Guardian are reporting the mob outside BBC TV Centre as chanting "Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put Nick Griffin on the top, put the Nazis in the middle, and burn the fucking lot." Is that incitement?

Tuscan Tony said...

Very eloquently put Iain.

Anonymous said...

As someone who is admittedly a little slow on the uptake it would be nice if Iain could write a piece some time to educate simpletons like me why freedom of speech extends to Gerry Adams and Nick Griffin but not to Jan Moir. We may not be permitted by the left to speak about some subjects Boo but other groups can be equally intolerant when it's their toes being stepped on. Either we all have freedom of speech and expression or it's just a matter of time before none of us do.

Anonymous said...

Why do the BBC insist on calling the demonstrations outside the BBC "anti-fascist?" I'd call them anti-BNP, after all the SWP is a "fascist" party in the eyes of many.

People say that the demo increases support for the BNP, but then that is the point for groups like the SWP who want to polarise societ, cut away at the middle ground and pick up a few new members for their cult.

The shame is that the great and the good are help in such contempt by working class voters that they lack the moral authority to oppose the Nazi BNP in open debate.

Tapestry said...

The BBC invasion by the AFU was obviously a stage managed affair. Why is the BBC going out of its way to ensure the BNP QT gets worldwide billing?

It's not Labour spin doctors ordering up this media dish.

It's all part of the (e)utopian fantasy that the Lisbon Treaty is needed to suppress political extremism across Europe. And boy the (e)utops cannot get enough of the stuff.

The Conservatives were accused of being holocaust deniers yesterday in Parliament. Hague and Cameron are daily being milified by Viliband, for association with NAZIs, and now TV screens are being filled with a non-riot between the BNP and the AFU.

It's all recognisably the same narrative, being drummed up for the same purpose.

The Conservatives, for justifiable reasons, want to pull Britain out of the Lisbon Treaty, and the EU fantasists want the world to share their perception that only a country full of rabid extremists could possibly want to spoil their lovely dream.

So our media days are now full of it. Funny things it all gets a big yawn at street level.

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous 6.28. I have never said that Jan Moir shouldn't have freedom of speech. of course she should.

PhilC said...

Of course Thatcher banning members of Sinn Fein from the airwaves was a fine example of freedom of speech and how not to create martyres.
You've got more front than Southend to lecture the left on this when your heroine was notorious for her disinterest in debate, open expression and plurality of views.

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

There seem to be far too few Police there.

Will recording go ahead?

Censorship not by the jack-boot, but by the shrug of the shoulder and a "what can you do?"

Ironic really because that's exactly how immigration to the UK for the past 40 years has occurred.

Bath plugs for the many, not the few said...

Nick Griffin seems to be ahead on points at the moment, thanks to the intolerant hatred of the UAF and thanks to Peter Hain, running scared of the loss of core Labour votes to the leftist BNP. In the short term, it is Labour who have the most to fear from the BNP.

In the longer term, we should all be worried, especially if as others suggest their thuggish tendencies are channeled into violence. But suppressing freedom of speech will only make things worse. The problems of the white working classes, both perceived and real, need to be addressed openly and realistically.

repossessed house investor said...

The anti-BNP demonstrators look absolutely awful. As know up north as “a ragged school”. On appearance alone I’d rather have the BNP than them anytime, do the Cons, Labs, libs really want to be associated with this Socialist Worker Party rabble. This has to be a wake up call for the main parties to get to grips with debate on mass immigration.Can't wait for fun tonight. Popcorn and wine sat the ready.

Will said...

When you had a telly channel of your own, would you have had Nick Griffin on it?

Causer said...

This event has been hyped out of proportion.

Unknown said...

Quote from the BNP website

What would Winston Churchill think if he could see Britain today?

Winston Churchill was a patriot who loved his country. He spoke out against immigration, a federal Europe and the dangers of Islam. Today for saying these things he would be expelled from the Conservative Party – the only home he would find would be the British National Party.

Are these people for real?

patrick said...

What would Winston Churchill think if he could see Britain today?

He'd think what a f**king shithole.

Ed Butt said...

The people who would deny the BNP a place on question time are the same as are raging about the Conservsatives Latvian nationalist buddies.

And just as they forget what freedom of speech means they forget the track record on human rights of the communist regines some East European Eurosocialists were part of.

Keith Elliott said...

I agree. Not all on the left though agree with the offensive tactics of the UAF. Allowing the BNP to portray themselves as the victims is not the way to beat then. Clear, rational and honest debate is.

Notts Al said...

Quite incredible that no-one in public life has had the cojones to separate the issues of racism and immigration, coherently.

That is a direct result of nulab's bullying tactics across the piece. Anyone who now has any view on virtually any topic which is not parallel to theirs is so viciously attacked, argumentatively, personally, professionally and physically that it is almost impossible not to be damaged.

Nevertheless there must be someone out there with sufficient reputation to be able to distinguish between those two discussions.

While Nulab continue to fudge the issues to the extent that no discussion of either topic can be progressed for fear of persecution/prosecution they will feed a festering boil in the public consciousness.

Most people on these Islands are perfectly well aware of that difference between the two issues and would reasonably confront both with tolerance; without rafts of legislation and PC mind control dictats, and armies of dobbers happy to report you for £50 for a word out of place.

So long as Nulab continue with a rationale that appears to support a headlong pursuit for thought police, the public will become more and more uneasy. They will feel further disenfranchised and more inclined to turn to alternatives which like them or not, appear at least, to have considerably more honest an approach than is currently the case.

Other commentators are right- the BNP are not necessarily winning hearts and minds, but Nulabs's bullying is definitely losing them.

Carl Eve said...

God knows why they're protesting at the front.

There's half a dozen entrances at the rear of Wood Lane where they will obviously smuggle Griffin in.

Anonymous said...

Please save us from the holier than thou preaching from Hume of the Lib Dems!!!!!!
What next???? Sara Tether?

Peter said...

@ David 5.47pm

Not sure what you mean by, "It did not work with Gerry Adams".

If you mean that censorship did not work, then that's correct. However the reason it did not work with Gerry Adams is because his analysis of the situation in NI was correct. That's why his party is now in government and indeed topped the poll in the recent Euro elections.

What you need to understand is that the Loyalists and Unionist bigots whom Gerry Adams was fighting against are of the same ilk as the BNP. The BNP were very closely related to Loyalists and enemies of the Catholic community in NI.

The Thatcher government and Btitish military had been colluding with bigoted Loyalism for many years.

The reason censorship is wrong is because you need to hear ALL arguments. In the case of Gerry Adams his was the better argument that Thatcher had been trying to hide.

In the case of the BNP, theirs is a bigoted aggument which when exposed will lose, just as the bigots of Loyalism and Unionism lost.

Judy said...

Unfortunately, according to the BBCR4 News, every single question centres on either the BNP and/or immigration. All the other panellists focused their entire energies on trying to vanquish Griffin.

I'm not going to watch it--it's bad enough to know what a total mess has been created by the BBC. Griffin and the BNP have been given the equivalent of one party political broadcast after another, as Griffin himself has acknowledged.

The BBC has created a situation in which the BNP and Griffin totally drive the UK news agenda. The SWP-led loonies of Unite Against Facism turn him into a complete sympathy case by screaming thuggery and behaving like joke 1970s rentamob menaces.

It sounds as if all the questions put to Griffin were ones he's very good at answering plausibly. I suppose in their vanity the BBC and the political establishment thought they only had to challenge him for him to reveal himself as a foaming pygmy Hitler. The more they do this, the more he emerges as rational and believable compared to the pantomime villain who they're waving about.

The BBC had no need to invite him. And certainly they had no need to put as much effort as they have into publicising it and giving him constant extended interviews to explain his point of view day after day.

Griffin and the BNP may have won 2 Euro seats. But there's no way any other minority party's appearance would have been so relentlessly plugged and made into a national crisis by the BBC.

Anonymous said...


Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom and will remain so until the majority of the people there decide otherwise.

Gerry Adams's attempt to bomb them into a United Ireland didn't work. Who's the loser? At least he had thd good sense to surrender eventually.

Rex said...

At last the immigration debate has been brought out into the open.
Perhaps one day we might be able to speak about it without being accused a racist.

Pogo said...

I think that it was the youngest audience I've ever seen on QT. Where did they get them all from? The local poly's politics and sociology departments? :-)

That said, it was basically a shambles. I wish I'd done something more useful with my time.

jailhouselawyer said...

I too was looking forward to a ding dong battle.

I am not against the BBC for having Nick Griffin on the panel. However, this is the first time in my memory that a panelist has been the subject of almost all the questions. When an apparently non-Griffin question was raised, it was not topical but was last week's news.

For me this has to be the worst Question Time I have ever seen. Had it followed its normal format I suspect that Nick Griffin would have been at a loss as to what to say.

Quietzapple said...

I've been bizarrely accused of racism online, but never banged on about it.

Those who labour their pique should consider wether qui s'excuse s'accuse.

Lots of it about . . .

Peter said...

@ Anon 11.19pm

"Gerry Adams's attempt to bomb them into a United Ireland didn't work. Who's the loser? At least he had thd good sense to surrender eventually".

You don't know very much about the conflict. Most of the IRA campaign was a holding position under immense attack from Loyalists, Unionists and their friends in the British Army.

Even superficially a more sensible person might discern that ending up in government from where they started was quite an achievement.

Luckily for Britain, not everyone is quite so dim:

"Army paper says IRA not defeated.

The admission is contained in a discussion document released by the Ministry of Defence after a request under the Freedom of Information Act".

However, think whatever gives you most comfort. Many Unionists and Loyalists like to claim as you do above.

Those who know, just smile.

Little Black Sambo said...

The cases of Gerry Adams and Nick Griffin are quite different. Adams, along with his fellow murderers McGuinness & co, was running a terrorist organization. It was perfectly in order to silence him. It's a pity nobody put a bullet into his head and silenced him permanently.

Amy said...

It is unfortunate that there are people with the same views as Griffin. They should not be allowed to be in politics.

Quietzapple said...

Amy: is it not better they Are in politics, rather than patrolling the streets at night?

(Assuming these to be usually exclusive activities)

(Well not referring to canvassing, obviously . . . )

In principle it is better they let it out, within the law, than bottle it up.