I hate the fact that we have to acknowledge Nick Griffin’s elected status, minimal though it is, and I’m sure many people held their noses whilst tuned into Question Time on Thursday, myself included. But I was mischievously looking forward to Griffin’s appearance on the circus show in a curious, dog-muck under the nose, gritted teeth kind of way. But the massive build-up was starting to turn me off and in the end I wasn’t sure if I could stomach it.
I did watch it though and basically, the BBC were naughty. They did a Channel 4 on us. They used Nick Griffin to court controversy, fully aware that they would benefit from the high viewing figures.
And consequently, all the free pre-show publicity and attention that Griffin received was making him appear important and significant when he’s really not important or significant at all. We keep forgetting that the BNP lost votes in the election that ironically earned them two European seats. Bloggers and news sites were asking . . . “what would you ask Nick Griffin” disregarding that fact that QT episodes are not exclusively about one person. It should have been a regular episode where members of a random audience ask a panel of politico’s some topical questions about current issues. But Griffin was the centre of attention throughout the programme and it was uncomfortable viewing in my opinion.
I supported the argument that as a legitimately elected MEP, the BBC couldn’t possibly keep him off the arena indefinitely because that would give the BNP a victim status, not to mention the underground popularity that comes with censorship and mystery. Therefore, the BBC were unpleasantly obligated to treat him the same as any other politician so they dutifully invited him on the show. But they didn’t treat him like any other politician appearing on their show. They allowed it to be all about Griffin and the BNP. What about the postal workers strike? What about the Copenhagen climate summit? What about the MP’s expenses inquiry?
Anyway, lots of missed opportunities to debate actual BNP policies (no sex-ed in primary school to name but one. Griffin himself brought that one up but no-one was interested). And when they did get round to confronting him about his views he was rubbish. He was rubbish and he will always be rubbish on this because his policies are rubbish. They’re hateful, they’re ridiculous and they’re totally unworkable. But to say that his nervous twitching and shaky hands exposed his rubbishness is just silly. It was his first time ever on such a huge arena and he was fully aware of the looming antagonistic audience and the opposing panelists so let’s be human about this. I hate to say it but considering all the justified venom he knew he was facing, he was actually quite brave in accepting the invitation. Of course he couldn’t let such an opportunity go but still, kinda gutsy. We could argue that it needed no courage given that to hold such evil ideology he must have the skin of a rhino and the detached personality of a sociopath, but I think the sight of his shaking hands and nervous smiles kind of showed us the human Nick and this might have invoked some public sympathy. Hell even I felt uncomfortable and I truly detest the dreadful man.
Dimbleby predictably allowed both the audience and the other panelists to close rank and hammer Griffin which made it seem like a lynch-mob gathering and who can deny that it was kind of like that. I’m not worried or concerned that the BNP gained anything from it because I don’t accept that they’ve benefited in any way at all but it wasn’t really a fair and honest debate and the sight of Jack Straw, Warsi etc. sickeningly relishing the rare chance to play the good guys demonstrated that they made the most of not having to answer for their own gross incompetencies and unethical policies. Sure, they succeeded in publicly humiliating Griffin but it didn’t make them look any better. Griffin could have have humiliated himself but they wanted to show off.
I’m sure the BNP will tell us differently but I don’t believe Nick Griffin’s public pounding has won more BNP votes but it certainly won’t have changed the minds of current BNP supporters.
And in my humbled little opinion, it was a major fail for the BBC.