The decision to invite the Chairman of the British National Party (BNP), Nick Griffin onto the BBC’s flagship political programme ‘Question Time’ has caused major uproar among both the public and elected politicians. Many have argued that the BNP are not democratic and that their message is both xenophobic and actively inciting racial hatred.
I do not wish to discuss whether or not Griffin should have been invited onto the show. Let it suffice to say that since he is an elected Member of the European Parliament, in my opinion he has the right to represent those who elected him in the public sphere.
With that in mind, and with the programme set to air this Thursday, I have found myself eagerly anticipating this groundbreaking demonstration of the great British democracy.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw was the first senior minister to commit to appearing opposite Mr Griffin in the televised debate. Subsequently he faces the challenge of exposing the ideological core of the BNP in front of a live audience and millions of television viewers.
However, we have to question whether there is any need for an elected politician to help expose the weaknesses of BNP policies, or to demonstrate the racist nature of Mr Griffin himself? After all this is a man who has a criminal conviction for denying the Holocaust as well as being quoted saying he believes in the Holocaust but only because European law requires him to do so.
The mere fact that the BNP won two seats in the European elections in June shows that the party is rising in both popularity and confidence. But does this mean the British public need an experienced politician of Jack Straw’s stature to unveil the truth and highlight voter’s misconceptions?
The BNP’s official website throws up some interesting policy outlines which appear to be based on nothing but hot air. A good example to highlight is their official policy on health:
- “Replace 100,000 NHS bureaucrats with doctors, nurses and dentists;
- Invest sufficient money in the NHS to provide a decent service to the British people;”
“Invest sufficient money in the NHS to provide a decent service”? – Now this is beautifully detailed, leaving the electorate knowing exactly what they will receive if they vote BNP. Right?
And where exactly are the 100,000 doctors, nurses and dentists going to come from? Currently in the UK a large proportion of these professions are filled by highly skilled immigrants, who are recognised as being in high demand.
The BNP’s infamous flagship policy of putting a stop to all immigration is demonstrated by the following strap line on their website:
“Given current demographic trends, we, the indigenous British people, will become an ethnic minority in our own country well within sixty years – and most likely sooner” – BNP Website
When we combine this flagship policy with the mentioned policy on health a monumental issue comes to light.
It seems that the BNP and Mr Griffin have blindly stumbled into an unworkable clash of policy. It follows that the party will have to decide which policy to run with. I wonder which one they would drop if they were ever elected to power: The detailed flagship policy of preventing immigration, or one of the vague secondary policies which are seemingly designed only to give the party more credibility?
Getting back to the point, when Nick Griffin takes his seat on that panel on the 22nd October, will the old hand Mr Straw necessarily be required to expose the real BNP to the waiting public? I think not.
“Truly explosive episode”
The live audience on Question Time is likely to be set against the BNP from the outset and Mr Griffin will certainly face some testing questions.
He may be an experienced politician and model himself on a modern statesman but I think he will find it difficult to back up policies that could have been written on the placemats in Pizza Hut by a four year old with a crayon.
Dear Mr. Straw, you may not necessarily be needed this time but you will have the best seat in the house for what is likely to be a truly explosive episode of Question Time. Other than a certain Mr. Dimbleby.
‘Question Time’ can be seen on Thursday 22nd October at 10:35pm on BBC One
By Nick Higgins