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Question time with our MEP Nick Griffin

Jonathan Schofield finds Question Time disturbing, uncomfortable and totally unbalanced - but in the end worthwhile

Written by . Published on October 24th 2009.

Question time with our MEP Nick Griffin

So there was one of my MEPs, Nick Griffin, on Question Time, in an ill-fitting suit, looking like an unsuccessful carpet saleman, refusing to concede that the Holocaust in its accepted form took place.

There he was mentioning ‘militant homosexuals’ (who?) and squirming when faced with views he’d previously aired such as wanting the UK to be 99% white. There was my MEP twisting to distort the truth about sharing debating space with the Ku Klux Clan, and about the true nature of a party which has being forced to change its rules about not allowing non-white members into its ranks.

There was my Euro representative laughing nervously, looking shifty, sweating and squirming as the Question Time panel and audience destroyed him. Whether it was Bonnie Greer, writer and cultural commentator, or politicians Chris Huhne, Jack Straw or Sayeeda Warsi facing up to him, it didn’t matter, he lost every time.

As Chris Huhne said, “You are the leader of a party based explicitly on race and this is unique. Yours are the politics of finding people to blame, of peddling hate and fear against minorities.”

Griffin had no response to this, and went spiralling off into nonsense, referring to the "genocide of the indigenous peoples of Britain by immigration". It was about this time he called me an aborigine. According to Griffin us aborigines are those who are descended from people who came to the UK after the last Ice Age. Because of this we deserve to be here more than others, certainly more than black and brown-skinned people.

There’s more than a whiff of David Icke about Nick Griffin. Remember Icke the ex-TV presenter turned guru who believes we’re being controlled by reptilian humanoids. He thinks up unprovable nonsense and then convinces himself it's all real.

Yet throughout the hour long airing of Question Time there was something nagging away at the brain. This wasn’t the Question Time I’ve viewed before.

This was Beat Up BNP Time with even the lead presenter, David Dimbleby, joining in. It was funny on occasion, it was instructive too, but it was savage. It looked and sounded biased and unbalanced. This probably reflects the ‘disgust’, as one of the audience put it, against the BNP, but in terms of the BBC's lofty ideals of impartiality it was ugly.

In the districts where Griffin has most support, in the estates in our own back yard in the North West, it must have seemed familiar. In neighbourhoods beset by long-term unemployment, poor education and high crime it must have seemed again, that the little Brit, the white-guy who got left behind, was being picked on by the nasties in the Establishment and the Metropolitan elite.

Of course if I’d been on that panel I don’t think I could have bottled up my anger when faced by the weird illogic of the BNP as voiced by this least charismatic of party leaders.

But Dimbleby should have handled Question Time better, should have mixed up the questions more, given us

less audience opinion. The one off-topic question was about Stephen Gately and whether Daily Mail hack Jan Moir was right to jump on his still warm corpse with criticism of his gay lifestyle. It was so very off-topic, it was like someone sitting on a whoopee cushion at a public enquiry. Within two panel responses we were back on the BNP.

The final question on the programme was whether the appearance of Griffin on the show had been an early Christmas present for the BNP. Some said yes, it was a fine recruiting poster for the party, validating their views by giving them exposure on such an august broadcasting vehicle. Others said no, given Griffin’s dreadful, shifty, inarticulate defence of his position, and the blanket negative coverage throughout the week, it had been a terrible few days for the BNP.

A more pertinent question was avoided, which was should the BBC have allowed Griffin on the programme at all? Well given their own rules, given Griffin has an electoral mandate from the Euro elections, given the BBC have allowed minority parties such as UKIP and the Greens on before, they could hardly not allow him on.

We return to the question of free speech.

On Channel 4 news before Question Time, Margaret Hodge, a member of the Labour Government, got it dead right.

She said: “I’ve had him (Griffin) campaigning at my constituency in Barking in the past. At polling stations he’s attacked me personally as an immigrant and as a Jew. He’s a nasty, nasty man. But we debate through democracy not through censorship in the United Kingdom, that is our tradition.”

The protesters outside the London studios and up and down the country missed this point completely. But then with their Socialist Worker placards they would do, wouldn’t they? The left and the right eventually meet as we all know, coming full circle from opposite sides. In the end if given power both the BNP and those protestors, would want to shut people up, with violence if necessary, and allow only one point of view to be given airtime; their own.

As Michael Portillo said on the This Week show after Question Time, “It almost made me physically sick this morning when I heard Ken Livingstone (left wing ex-London Mayor) saying that he didn’t want Griffin on Question Time.” Portillo went on to describe how Livingstone had wanted public debate with Marxist IRA terrorists in the seventies whilst they were murdering British citizens. More recently Livingstone has invited holocaust deniers, with no constituency in the UK, over from the Middle East to speak.

We can’t have it both ways, so let’s have it our way. The way as nation we have stumbled towards for hundreds of years, let people, certainly once they have a constituency, have their voice.

And in this way let’s give them enough rope to hang themselves. Griffin was a shambles last night. Question Time brutally exposing his incoherent nonsense. It was humiliating for him. It’s true that in some areas his beating up might have reinforced support but most people would have seen that this comical, bewildered and confused figure is not quite the person we would want running the country. Not ever, even after the next Ice Age, when the new aborigines, or whatever, arrive.

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29 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

UllaOctober 23rd 2009.

So Griffin is now making an official complaint about the BBC's handling of the show. Which will ensure that this carries on rumbling for months.

GazbyOctober 23rd 2009.

Dimblebey and his pack of hounds made it excruciating to watch. I am no fan of Griffin but 7.5 million people watched last night, and no matter how sweaty, squealy and intellectually lacking he appeared, it was reminiscent of the playground. The BNP will be counting this as a result

AnonymousOctober 23rd 2009.


English AboriginalOctober 23rd 2009.

By the way, where's Unionjacko? I miss his BNP-will-conquer-the-universe rants.

DigOctober 23rd 2009.

Boz eyed? never heard that one. Bog eyed is 2 working eyes looking outwards. Griffins eyes are worst type. One works, one occaisionally moves independantly without warning. I'm going to need more time to study this case further. For now we can refer to it as 'Crazy eyes'.

DigOctober 23rd 2009.

That part of HIGNFY was very amusing and quite appropriate on how to deal with the BNP.

mariaOctober 23rd 2009.

feeling sorry ?? that s must be a joke.!!! A very smart guy, not a teeneager that didn't know what was going..on why he didnt prepare himself??? that doesnt make any sense ....

Professor ChucklebutteyeOctober 23rd 2009.

So Dig, your expertise is called for here. Is griffin Boz eyed or Bog Eyed?

KnowledgeableOctober 23rd 2009.


English AboriginalOctober 23rd 2009.

Griffin, like any bully (and let's not forget the BNP are racist thugs with criminal records), whinges that 'it isn't fair' when he loses.But freedom of speech also means taking the flak for what you say, and that is exactly what Griffin got. After-effects? I expect the BNP to recruit more shaven headed lumpen-proles to their ranks; I also expect their appeal outside of that demographic to wither, and internal dissension (who knows, even civil war?) from senior BNP who think Griffin is a liability. Good for Dimbleby and the BBC!

DigOctober 23rd 2009.

Always a hot topic between my friends and I in the pub that one Prof. I believe the plural is anum. Although one bright spark called over to us and interrupted our debate by shouting 'shut up you gang of arseholes'. As for Griffins eye it's easier to keep it simple, a bit like him, so I've decided his eye infliction is to be known as no eyed ear.

White ice-coated voterOctober 23rd 2009.

Griffin was ambushed last night by Sheriff Dumbleby, his deputies and a word-totting posse of several hundred. I agree with your correspondent it was the BBC at its worse. I would have liked to have heard Griffin give his opinions in the usual QT format - that would have exposed him more than anything. My fear is the ambush format may earn him a sympathy vote. The ambush also allowed the panel to avoid answering the question .... if the BNP is so bad why did 1m vote for them this year. God protect us from extremities whether its the BNP or the Socialist Worker.

curiousOctober 23rd 2009.

So the old weekend ranter going on about crime and car thieves of Liverpool compared to goodly folk of Manchester was that also Union Jacko?

Wee Wullie FyfeOctober 23rd 2009.

No that's the Scottish National Party - Blog Eye The Noo

AnonymousOctober 23rd 2009.

Great sympathy will ensue for Griffin after this hysterical bullying. It's what I feared it would be. people giving political correctness a bad name

Professor ChucklebuttyOctober 23rd 2009.

Good man Dig, you always go into these things thoroughly. Perhaps you could get a research grant. I am not sure about using Crazy Eyes though, what if we said Hitler Idol Eyes? Or how about a small glass marble lodged in an anus both sides of his head eyes? I'm sorry i bothered with that now having to find a way of putting it that avoided the plural. I had no idea there was such controversy over the plural for anus. usually one has been enough. "ani" indeed? I thought that was a muscal about an orphan.

TourmanOctober 23rd 2009.

Was that audience representative of Britain, I think not a hand picked group from London Village.

Ay!Carmela!October 23rd 2009.

The PIRA were Marxists? There was me thinking they were a nationalist reaction to OIRA left-leaning thinking.

BartOctober 23rd 2009.

He wouldn't have been fully prepared because he has never shared the platform before with these political heavyweights who were patronising, as was Dimblebey. I was in the uncomfortable position of feeling sorry for Nick Griffin.

Ronnie de RamperOctober 23rd 2009.

The standard argument against giving Griffin a platform for his views is that, given the chance, he would deny that opportunity to others. In short, he isn't a democrat; and the BNP merely uses the democratic process to advance its plans for a racial dictatorship. That's a strong and important argument, not least because giving Griffin a platform might normalise undemocratic views within public debate. Hence we would sow the seeds of democracy's fall.The other argument is strong too. We can't disregard the 900,000 votes for the BNP in the Euro elections. Clearly some people sympathise with Griffin. So he has earned his space in public debate; it's up to his critics to expose BNP shortcomngs. That argument assumes our democracy is strong enough to defend itself against the BNP.Of course, that's what democrats always think - until it's too late, like in Germany, 1933. Democracy is fragile and cannot be taken for granted. But I think its best defence is to use democracy more, not less. That means allowing Griffin a platform, opposing his rancid hates, and taking the risk that the great majority will be repelled by his views - as I am.

DigOctober 23rd 2009.

The guy who works for BetFred is UnionJacko? Never!! I look forward to seeing him again. I must ask him if this is true. If I don't see him I'll just ask him on Bookface.

Nick GriffinOctober 23rd 2009.

Any more people gang up on me like that again I will shoot you with a laser from my magic eye. I bet you didn't know I'm just like that guy from X-Men. Oh, and by the way, David Icke is right, you are being controlled by us humanoid reptilians but I prefer to call us mutants!

RosOctober 23rd 2009.

Did anyone watch Have I Got News for You, brilliant....when it came to showing them a picture of this piece of shit dressed up in an amusing costume, the panel were asked and who is this?? and each of them just said "No Idea" and quickly went on to the next picture. Loved it.

AnonymousOctober 23rd 2009.

Blog eyed?

JohnOctober 23rd 2009.

I loathe the BNP but have little less time for the politically correct thickos that can't get it through their skulls that "free speech" means just that not "the freedom to express nothing other than the views that I subscribe to". They're every bit as fascist as the BNP

KnowledgeableOctober 23rd 2009.

Working for Betfred

scousekrautOctober 23rd 2009.

I did not watch it but have read that Griffin performed poorly in what was clearly a set up environment. However, he should have been fully prepared for that. Not very professional.What has been interesting about the build up to this and the recent Lisbon vote in Ireland is that a lot of people who say they believe in free speech actually do not.There has been the usual resort to "attacking the messenger" tactics and the liberal use of phrases such as "denier, conspiracy theorist, anti-semite, racist, dissident etc". These are used to avoid debating the issues.In a democracy it is to be expected that we may research and debate anything we want and that this should in fact be encouraged by the government. In reality there is a long list of things that certain powerful interests do not want us to know.

Wavertree ScampOctober 23rd 2009.

Disagree thoroughly with all of the above. Yes, Griffin was subjected to some scrutiny. But it was nothing less than any other politician would have been given if they had uttered such statements.The argument in favour of Griffin going on QT was that it would allow some scrutiny of his views and opinions. In my opinion, that is exactly what happened.

queeny eyeOctober 23rd 2009.

I agree. The right thinkers are in danger of giving the Right thinkers all the ammo they need.

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