Yesterday, a controversial and hotly anticipated episode of Question Time was aired on U.K television. Question Time is a BBC program that allows a studio audience to aim hard-hitting questions to the show’s five invited guests. The guests are usually three MP’s (members of the parliament) and two public figures of culture, society, industry and so on.
Yesterday’s show had the leader of the U.K’s far-right British National Party, Nick Griffin, as a guest. There has been a lot of angry debate throughout the week over whether the BBC, a public sponsored broadcaster, should be allowed to invite a far-right guest to express his party’s policies; there are many people who would prefer the BNP not be shown on TV or heard on radio at all. Even one member of the governing party, Labour’s Peter Hain, threatened to take the BBC to court to prevent it from giving Nick Griffin and the BNP a platform to air their policies. So much for free speech. Like it or not, members of the BNP have been elected by some British people to represent their interests at local councils and the European Parliament so they must be given the same television, Internet and radio privileges as any other elected representative.
Before the show aired, protesters were lighting flares, waving banners and shouting “BBC, Shame on you.” As the number of protesters grew they began throwing placards at police, taking their helmets to throw back at them and forcing their way into the studio building to prevent Nick Griffin’s appearance. A few police officers were hurt and a few arrests were made. After the show the protesters separated to cover the exits and hound Mr Griffin as he left the building. It seems strange me that the protesters are mainly left-wing fanatics and who use violence and sabotage to intimidate others; just the same tactics they accuse the far-right of using, which they have not yet done in recent times.
This episode of Question Time has lowered my opinion of the show. I never considered the BBC to be impartial and now many others know just how biased an institution it is. The show concentrated on Nick Griffin’s immigration policies and his alleged denial of the Holocaust. There were no questions relating to other important topics of the week such as th postal strike, the Swine Flu vaccination program or soldier deaths in Afghanistan. Instead, the audience and the other four guests chose to attack and character assassinate Nick Griffin. The show stunk of set-up and it has back-fired:
- The audience was not typical of Question Time. It had an unusually high number of non-white members. The BBC admitted the audience was vetted and members of the audience said the vetting questions did not ask about race and ethnicity
- I listened to a talk radio show after Question Time had been broadcast and according to one caller who was in Question Time’s audience, many of the members of the audience knew one and other prior to being in the audience. His implied suggestion was that the audience had been chosen for the purpose of attacking Nick Griffin else it had been infiltrated by the fanatical left
- Those few who did support Nick Griffin’s comments were silenced by other audience members
- Question Time is supposed to cover a range of topics but despite David Dimbleby’s, the chair’s, opening statement that it would not “just be the Nick Griffin show”, it definitely was not anything other than a medium for Nick Griffin bashing
- The show tended to focus on the BNP’s policies toward immigrants and other minority sections of U.K society.
This was a very bad episode of the show. I can’t blame David Dimbleby for that, he chaired the show as best he could, as impartially as possible given the circumstance.
Whether or not I agree with the British National Party’s policies and whether or not anyone else agrees with their policies is immaterial with respect to Question Time and the right for opinions to be freely expressed without bullying from the audience and guests.
Nick Griffin was bullied by both the audience and his “fellow” guests. Seeing the behaviour of the fanatical left both inside and outside of the studio is as sickening to me as that of the fanatical right. All fanatics are the same: they all want freedom of expression and action provided it’s their peculiar brand of freedom. As soon as they get what they want they become hypocrites.
As for Nick Griffin’s argument that he has changed over the years, well it’s plausible; that he has spoken some ideas at particular platforms to win-over and change his listeners from being fascist to protectionist (or whatever), I understand that one too – we all play Devil’s Advocate at times, we are all sometimes guilty of deceit. Do I trust him, no, definitely not. Would I vote for his party were the BNP and Labour the only options, probably not but then nor would I ever vote Labour – I disagree with big, overbearing government and others telling the rest how and where they should live. I don’t entirely disagree with him when he says that we need to tighten our borders: I do believe the U.K needs a better immigration policy and an entirely different social security system – I believe changing the latter will aid the former.
All in all, the show has won Nick Griffin, hence the BNP, sympathy from a lot of people who saw him being bullied by the panel and guests. I hope that UKIP or some other less hostile-to-non-indigenous-Brits party comes to the rescue of U.K Politics and steer the electorate away from fanatic and idealist parties such as Labour and the BNP. It will be a sad day and will feel like a long term of government should the BNP ever gain enough political clout to effect many of their policies.