Griffin on Question Time

This is also over at Cedar Lounge Revolution.

I have to say I was never spectacularly exercised by this issue of the BNP’s leader Nick Griffin appearing Question Time. I think the British far left’s obsession with them is way over the top, and often has more to do with trying to give their own members something to do and to recruit new members than anything else. Having watched the show, the whole thing was a waste of time, and you would thiink that the only political issue of the week was the BNP – basically the whole show except for about 8 minutes on the Daily Mail on Stephen Gateley was about them, and even that became about them to an extent. Naturally the overwhelming majority of the audience and the other people on the panel, not to mention the BBC’s David Dimbleby, were all determined to show that they abhor the BNP. Tell me something I don’t know.

Having said that, there was one issue worthy of serious consideration for the left. During the inevitable debate on immigration, Griffin must have been sitting laughing to listen to the representatives of the mainstream parties vie with each other to sound opposed to immigration. I found Sayeeda Warsi, the Tory Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion, repeating the mantra of “we must have an honest debate about this” particularly nauseating. Jack Straw did make the point that he was having an honest debate. I thought that was an important point. The right tries to get round this issue by saying that anyone not calling for immigration to be effectively halted is being dishonest. That is in fact the most dishonest contribution possible to the discussion of immigration. It’s clear though that the left in Britain has some serious work to do on the issue of immigration. Serious work.

The last question was whether the programme represented an early Christmas present for the BNP. It’s hard to say. Griffin did not a bad job, trying to defuse things through laughter and referring to the other panelists by their first name as though he was just a normal panelist. He did though let the mask slip somewhat over homosexuality (although if I recall right Searchlight had some interesting things to say about Nick Griffin and this issue), and when he denounced the BBC as part of an ultra-leftist establishment. He also was exposed as effectively telling lies on several occasions. The Labour and Tory representatives were convinced they had exposed the BNP, and to an extent that is what happened, with some of Griffin’s more embarassing comments being displayed to the public. Having said that, there was quite a lot where Griffin appeared perfectly in line with the rest of the panel, and as I noted already, there can be no doubt that his party has succeeded in driving the immigration debate to the right.

So I think Griffin will be happy enough, but so will the other panelists. The real question it seems to me though is what happens when the BNP is on next time. Even if it’s only once a year, you can’t keep having the should they be part of the show in the first place debate. By its nature they are going to be normalised to some extent. But we cannot forget the reasons they are there in the first place. They have two European seats. So they already have quite a lot of credibility. Being on Question Time or not won’t change that. Only work on the ground, and possibly there own stupidity, will. I remember seeing an interview with Warren Mitchell, who played Alf Garnett. He said people would come up to him and praise him for sticking it to the black people. And so it is with Griffin – people will have seen what they wanted to see regardless.


4 Responses to “Griffin on Question Time”

  1. Mack Says:

    “there can be no doubt that his party has succeeded in driving the immigration debate to the right”

    I’m not sure this is a left/right issue (or perhaps it’s that the term ‘left / right’ is a gross over-simplification) – e.g. Socialist countries tended to restrict movement of peoples quite heavily, even internally, where as Capitalist countries have been remarkably freer and more welcoming to immigrants.

    And to classify restricting immigration as a right-wing concern, often ignores the negative impact it can have on working class communities, where these idiots seem to be thriving in the UK..

    (On the same note, I doubt these guys are deep thinkers on the pros and cons of market economics. So if you use left / right as a short-hand for the degree to which somone believes economies should be centrally planned, the far right loons defy their moniker. I’d guess they never discuss Friedman, Keynes, Marx, Schumpeter etc. either way.. )

  2. Garibaldy Says:

    Hi Mack,

    I think that when you posit the issue in terms of race the way the BNP have done, then it does become a left/right issue, and there seems to me to be no doubt that they have succeeded in getting the debate heard somewhat on their terms.

    You’re right I suspect on the reading of Schumpeter et al, but history shows us that fascism is no threat to the existence of capitalism. In fact, it is its final line of defence it seems to me.

  3. Mack Says:

    “but history shows us that fascism is no threat to the existence of capitalism”

    True, history also shows that communism needn’t threaten the existence of all forms of capitalism either (e.g. China today). There is a danger of reasoning by induction to extend the scope of fascism to encompass all capitalism when it doesn’t (or in absurdia, on the basis of modern China – communism!)

    I wouldn’t agree that race is a naturally bound up with socialist or capitalist economic politics either, although in the UK it may be more so than in modern Ireland (but even there the existence of One Nation Toryism – suggests that they need not be so)..

    It strikes me that they are useful short-hands in some situations, but may stifle discourse and needlessly divide people on other issues (but then again political parties need to appeal to wide bases and they do this by bundling up causes – rather arbitrarily in many cases)…

  4. Garibaldy Says:

    I would of course agree that not all capitalism is encompassed by fascism. Nevertheless, it still seems fairly clear to me that despite its corporatist economic policies, fascism cannot be placed on the left of the political spectrum. The left believes in equality, whereas fascism is based on the idea of dominance, of one group or race being superior to others. Now plenty of people on the right would equally disgree with fascist claims about superiority, but one can agree with them and remain on the right. That’s not the case with the left – it’s simply impossible (at least in this day and age as opposed to say 60 years ago when people were raised very differently due to the empires).

    Interesting what you say about race, and Britain and Ireland. Defining race in itself is of course a whole other issue. Good point about bundling issues up too. I think that the thing about fascism and the BNP is that the race thing does put them beyond the pale rather than anything else.

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