First of all let me get this straight: I am not a supporter of, nor an apologist for, the BNP.   But last nights Question Time was what can only be described as an ‘interesting farce.’   Interesting because non-mainstream (extreme) views were finally given a chance to be aired (well shouted down, booed and whistled at).  A farce because they weren’t listened to.

As they say ‘there’s none as blind as those that won’t see, nor none as deaf as those who won’t listen’.  But lets consider not what Nick Griffins’ message – spoken or unspoken- was, but about his right to say it.

The programme and Nick Griffin’s appearance are genuine news. Given the structure of the programme, the other panellists, the presenter and the audience what he had or did not have to say wasn’t.  If, as he claimed last night, 6% of the electorate voted BNP in the last Euro Elections that means that almost 1 in 16 of the electorate (who actually voted) voted for them.  Do you know 15 people who voted in June?  Of course you do.  Statistically one of them – or YOU – voted BNP.  Sobering thought.    Obviously the actual turnout –below 34% mitigates the true level of electoral support for the far right, particularly given that many traditional Labour supporters stayed away, but even so!!

But why the apparent rise in BNP support?  Is it nascent fascism?  Growing xenophobia?  Increasing intolerance?   My thought is that in part all three are part of the reason but there is one overriding cause: the failure of the mainstream media to understand the needs and fears of a numerically significant section of the electorate.   The less affluent, white working class.  The very people whose votes the BNP seek.  The very people whose views mainstream politicians refuse to listen to.   And the mainstream media, whose background is that of an educated, informed multicultural elite, fail to understand the deep-seated fears about immigration and multiculturalism of a significant and un-voiced minority of the population.  Why?   Because discussion of these issues is taboo.  Instead the media pander to their readers/viewers perceived beliefs and then hide their own editorial bias under a mantle of educated respectability.

A newspaper called ‘The Daily Express’ can today trumpet “BNP'S NICK GRIFFIN: A DISGRACE TO HUMANITY.  This ‘open and fair’ piece of journalism can be contrasted with that of another newspaper’s headline (coincidentally also called ‘The Daily Express’) which, on the 18th October, read: FOUR-STAR HOTEL FOR MIGRANTS   Or yet another newspaper – again called the ‘Daily Express’ – who published the headline LABOUR'S BIGGEST LIE OF ALL IS ABOUT MASS IMMIGRATION on the 19th October. And one further newspaper published under the title of ‘The Daily Express’ published a story about “SECRET AMNESTY FOR 200,000 ASYLUM CASES'” on 10th October.  Are these 'Daily Express's' one and the same?

Until we have an open discussion about the issues raised by the opposition to democratic debate on the subject of immigration and multiculturalism then we will be pushing the problem of increasing racial intolerance under the carpet.

So, should Nick Griffin have been a panellist on Question Time?  I say yes.  Yes in my belief in the power of democracy which can best be summed up with the famous quote attributed (wrongly) to Voltaire says: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”   And yes in my hope that through a detailed and thorough debate of its policies, my fellow voters will see through any hidden fascist agenda the BNP may have.

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