By virtue of the fact that my blog’s had so many hits from people specifically Googling the phrase “Nick Griffin is a twat,” I feel slightly obliged to comment on the hugely controversial debate on Question Time last night.
Of course, he lost entirely. He got the verbal smackdown of a lifetime, and I think as a result I may be slightly in love with Bonnie Greer.
As you probably know, the decision to invite him on was hugely controversial. There were protests outside the BBC. But, like many people, I’m not with them. See, much as I loathe Griffin (incidentally, if any friends of mine are reading this and can’t think what to get me for my birthday next year, a low-cost idea would be to urinate on him in the street), I think he needs to be heard. If he’s not, he can quite rightly say to his supporters, “Well, what are they so scared of? Clearly I am a force to be reckoned with.” Whereas by allowing him to dribble his wrongheaded politics on TV, he’s exposed for the lunkheaded, ignorant, doesn’t-look-like-Jabba-but-now-I-can’t-get-the-idea-out-of-my-head bubo that he is.
The problem with the debate, in my ill-informed opinion, was that often his opponents came off as being as crude and kneejerk as him. Particularly disappointing was Jack Straw’s response to the suggestion that Labour’s immigration policy had resulted in a rise in BNP support, which was to go into another ramble about our long and glorious history of cultural diversity and providing refuge for the needy and blah blah blah. Which is fair enough, I’d agree with that (I mean, the Empire Windrush didn’t just show up on the offchance that we happened to need thousands of workers).
But by appealing to emotion rather than actually answering the question, Straw was playing the same game that Griffin himself plays when he goes on about feeling like a second-class citizen in his own country. Griffin’s complained that people only talk about the race element of the BNP’s policies, which I’d argue is a bit like saying “But nobody talks about Josef Fritzl’s skills as an electrician.” But, much as it pains me to say this, he does have a point. Of sorts. Christ I feel dirty now.
What I mean is, it’s a fact that the BNP’s support has risen and that they now have two seats in the European Parliament. And I don’t believe for a moment that all those people fail to realise that the BNP is a racist party. Nor do I believe that all its supporters are racist – hell, a fair few of them aren’t even white. What we should be asking is, why are people actually voting BNP? What is it about their wrongheaded policies that means people are willing to vote for them over any of the three mainstream parties? Instead of going for the kneejerk racist-racist-you’re-a-filthy-racist reaction every time Griffin opens his mouth, mainstream politics should be addressing that.
Godwin’s Law in effect: It’s a pretty common factor in history that people are willing to put up with extremist views if, in their day-to-day lives, the extremists look like they’re going to make things better. See the French Revolution. See the rise of the Taliban. See, yes, the Nazis.
Disarm Griffin by confronting the real issues. Once those are dealt with, the BNP will lose its grip on political legitimacy and return to the wasteland from whence it came.
I mean, that aside, Griffin looked like a complete dork. He stumbled and backtracked, he hurled accusations around and at the end – when it looked like he might just be able to salvage a little dignity – he had to bring his conspiracy theories re the BBC to the forefront. Way to make yourself look sane, Nick.
Bonnie Greer, on the other hand, was fantastic. She should get her own series. Hell, she should get her own parliamentary seat.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/oct/23/bbc-question-time-nick-griffin - Apparently Griffin has his supporters.