For what it’s worth, I think the BBC had to treat the BNP – and Nick Griffin – as any other politician. To set up a rule deciding on which political parties deserved coverage – and then to ignore it because you didn’t like the results – would be about as unBritish as you can get.
But the results haven’t exactly been good. 22% of people polled by the Daily Telegraph say they would consider voting for the BNP, while the News of the World’s poll of 504 people found a third backed the BNP policy that UK-born ethnic minorities should lose all benefits to pay for them to leave, whilst in a comment article (now deleted), the Daily Mail suggests that second-generation immigrants born in the UK aren’t British (while also trying to denounce the BNP). Which would include Winston Churchill, Prince Charles and Stephen Fry. At least two people on my blog reading list have decried the BNP while stating that immigration is now a huge problem as far as they’re concerned.
So Pandora’s Box has snuck into the UK, and been opened. But how did it come to this?
Well, it would have helped enormously if the issue had been played, rather than everyone concentrating their firepower on a small relatively insignificant political party (although it did attract nearly 6% of the votes at the last European election).
The anti-fascist protesters seemed far more interested in making a big noise and getting on the news than actually, y’know, trying to stop Nick Griffin getting onto the programme, as their stated aim was. After all, he snuck in by the back way, which isn’t exactly a state secret – there are five entrances into the complex, after all.
The whole point of Nick Griffin appearing on Question Time was that he was meant to be regarded as a normal politician. So why have a scenario where the programme might as well been called An Evening With Nick Griffin, with every diverse person you can think of lining up to take potshots at him? If I was a disgruntled white working-class voter watching that, I’d have been far more inclined to think Nick Griffin was right. (Although the BBC said it just drew a random selection of people from where it was being recorded – West London in this case – and the questions asked were ones chosen by the studio audience)
It should have been a ‘normal’ programme, with him being asked questions about, say, the Royal Mail strike instead of letting him turn it into a bite-sized voxpop of what his policies were. After all, if the Greens or the Communists were invited on, Question Time wouldn’t be dominated by environmental or communist issues.
The political parties and the Establishment have seemed far more interested in ignoring the BNP and their associated issues, instead of perhaps engaging with the electorate. Thus, we have a situation where a few people genuinely seem to believe that the British government is far more interested in helping asylum seekers than British people.
Which flies in the face of a reality where legal routes into settling in the UK are very bureaucratic, and puts a lot of obstacles in the way of my (white British) friend trying to settle in the UK with his (Korean) wife and in the meantime the British government deports women dying of cancer, locks up the children of asylum seekers, leading to things like a ten-year-old Nigerian girl trying to commit suicide as she sits waiting in an “immigration removal centre” and the Catch 22 scenario whereby the Home Office won’t kick people out but neither will it allow them to apply for legality in the first place.
Yes, being against immigration isn’t being racist. But the talk is already moving on from “new” immigrants to current immigrants and their sons and daughters. If you saw me walking down the street, I wouldn’t look British. But I sound, feel, and am British. How long will it be before I have to carry an identity card – or a yellow star – to prove that to people?