In response to Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time last Thursday, The Daily Telegraph has today published an opinion poll run by ‘YouGov’ which suggests that one in five people surveyed would ‘seriously consider’ voting for the British National Party. One in five!
I spent Thursday night watching Jack Straw and the others queue up to have a pop at Mr Griffin on a grainy television in a friend’s room. Whilst around the country over eight million more people tuned in to Question Time to watch ‘Nick’ respond to all the burning questions they have always wanted to ask him.
There has been an interesting argument being banded around campus that ‘Nick’ was not given a fair chance to clear up important facts and explain his policies. It was clear that every time he began stuttering an answer to a question, another panel member would interrupt and argue over him to the point where the studio audience would clap and whoop, without actually giving the man a chance to speak.
The most shocking aspect of this observation is that even the experienced and usually reserved David Dimbleby could not resist jumping on the bandwagon and facilitating further opportunities for Griffin to be targeted. At one point, in an attempt to regain order he said, “if you all attack on different fronts we won’t get anywhere.”
Griffin has since likened the show’s panellists and audience to a “lynch mob” and has asked to be invited back for a second chance.
Discussing whether or not the show was a “lynch mob” or biased or whatever else is not important for now. Of far more importance to me are the figures published in the Telegraph today.
I supported the BBC’s decision to allow Nick Griffin to express his views, in the name of democracy. In truth I thought there was no debate to be had on the issue, and that there was no reason why he should not appear on the show to allow everyone to scrutinize his policies and make up their own mind. After all these are values upon which this country is built. The only problem with this is that I was naïve enough to think everyone was like me and that everyone would see Griffin’s ludicrous policies, vulgar attitude, poor eloquence and his ultimate lack of charisma.
BNP has gained huge publicity
When the programme ended, the consensus among our contingent in the darkened room was that watching Nick Griffin on Question Time was a bit like watching a goldfish get shot in a bucket. There was no way out for him, no escape from the onslaught.
As we sat and debated the outcomes of the show the last thing on any of our minds was that the BNP would gain support from it. We also all agreed that Nick Griffin would not be invited back onto Question Time for at least a couple of years.
These agreements were made in the knowledge that we would not need to discuss them again in the morning. They were made with such conviction that we swiftly moved on to debating other things. So you can imagine my amazement when reading today that 22% of people would ‘seriously consider’ voting BNP and that Nick Griffin has asked to come back on the panel in the near future.
What I think has happened is that I was either watching a different programme to these ‘22% of people’, or I simply got the wrong end of the stick. I thought I saw Nick Griffin cop a political beating of unimaginable magnitude, yet he and the BNP seem to have come away with enormous publicity, increasing support and the possible opportunity to come back for more.
I would like to be able to explain how this has happened. The truth is I am baffled. One thing I will say is that there is a huge void between telling an opinion poll that you ‘seriously consider’ voting for someone, and actually voting for them on Election Day. I think the voting public know that opinion polls do not elect politicians whereas the general elections really count.