By Marcus Dysch
September 7, 2009
So the BBC is going to let Nick Griffin on Question Time. Quite right too.
The decision was met first with shock and a flat ‘we won’t appear alongside him’ from the three main political parties, but then with a more realistic approach.
And that is the right one to take. The response should be: let Griffin on, and show him up for what he is.
From my experiences (dating back to a brief interview with two skinheads after counting was completed in Sheffield for the 2005 General Election), the majority of BNP members happily chatter away about how they have changed and how the party’s views are those held by ‘normal’, ‘right thinking’ people around Britain.
But once you scratch the surface you can be left in no doubt about their real feelings. Most of them, with a gentle push, will let slip about their true thoughts on immigration, minority groups and homosexuality.
Although a few of their members are able to demonstrate the benefits of their media training, rarely do they manage to keep the facade up for more than a few minutes. Most crumble under the pressure of any substantial questioning.
By the way, anyone still in doubt about the BNP needs only to watch the stunning documentary made by David Modell in 2002 about Mark Collett, then the Young BNP's chairman, for an idea of what the party members are like at home and (so he thought) away from the cameras.
Griffin, if pushed on party policy, would be ripped to shreds by the likes of Alan Johnson, Vince Cable or William Hague and the viewers/electorate would be left in no doubt as to the nature of his party’s extremist views.
His appearance would, undoubtedly, make for must-see-TV, and I would hazard a guess there would be a few ‘interesting’ moments. Let’s not forget that the Question Time audience is notoriously quick to offer a substantial round of applause after almost every and any comment.
Let us imagine, if we dare, that Griffin gets past the protestors outside, and no doubt those who attempt to disrupt the programme from within the audience, and eventually ends up in front of the cameras in a week where more British servicemen and women have been killed in Afghanistan.
There is a question about how long we should fight the Taliban. He repeats his claims about Labour and Tory “lies” about the mission, throws in a few ‘our boys’ and ‘British bulldog’ references for good measure. He ends with a flourish, saying the troops should be brought straight home. He stops, there’s a moment of tense silence. And then what?
We are told the show he appears on would be filmed in London (where he will obviously get a rougher ride than before a Stoke or Rotherham audience for example), but is it at all conceivable that he could get a flourish of applause?
It’s a chilling, chilling thought.