Thursday, 22 October 2009

It's Time for Question Time

And so we're here.

Later today Nick Griffin will represent the BNP on BBC's Question Time programme (if he can get through the protests at Television Centre that is).

I've long been a supporter of this move and of debating the BNP in general. I still remember my first year classes at university when I argued about freedom of speech and "shining a light on the the dark views" of racists being the best advert for both democracy and toleration. We don't agree with them - of course we don't - but if you let them say it, you can let people see how ridiculous their views are then you can rip them to shreds when their argument does not stand up to any scrutiny.

What about the rest of the blogosphere?
  • Well, Yousuf doesn't seem to agree. Though he used to think it was a good idea. Maybe he's been chatting to Peter Hain.
  • Kezia thinks a boycott would be a waste of time - and that we have a responsibility to deal with them.
  • Mr Eugenides, in his customary rather strong language thinks we need to tackle them head on.
  • Andrew Reeves reckons free speech should win out - and that they were legitimately elected, therefore they should be allowed (occasional) TV appearances.
  • Chris points out Jack Straw's credentials as a good opponent for the BNP.
  • Jeff thinks we should give Griffin a fair hearing... then throw the book at him when he steps out of line. Or ignore the show as unmemorable.
I have to say, I don't take my view lightly, and I understand the reservations that Yousuf has. The BBC are giving them a vehicle to promote their abhorrent views that is true. They are giving them a spotlight. But the notion of legitimacy has already been bestowed by the 800,000+ people who voted for them in June and elected two of their number to the European Parliament. That ship has sailed. But all is not lost.

No, Question Time provides our other representatives - representatives of decency, morality and general good - to take on the BNP, to shine a light on the darkness of their views, to show that these islands will not tolerate racism and that while they have come further than we had hoped with their 2 MEPs, they shall go no further.

We must take them on in a public forum. We must trust our side to make the argument for us. And above all, we must win. Decency, free speech, democracy rests on it.

We've got to deliver.


Jeff 22 October 2009 at 08:44  

I don't think we do 'have to deliver'. Putting too much pressure on Straw and Greer etc will surely backfire. Let's not dress it up too much, I mean it's not easy to nail jelly to the wall. An instantly forgettable bbcqt would be a decent result.

Malc 22 October 2009 at 08:58  

Where did I hear the "nail the jelly to the wall" one recently? Can't remember...

For me, delivering can take many forms. But a solid points win in the fight against the fascist is an absolute must.

Jeff 22 October 2009 at 13:14  

I fear you're going to be disappointed this evening, though with my pessimism on this we appear to have switched sides!

(Not sure what you're getting at with the jelly line)

Polunskers 22 October 2009 at 21:53  

Giving them a prime-time platform is far more dangerous than not doing so. I am really depressed by the whole thing. If a bunch of paedophiles formed a party should we let them air their views just cos others share them, no matter the hurt it may cause? We don't need to lower debate to this kind of shit. It's possible to draw a line and they cross it.

Malc 22 October 2009 at 22:15  

Um... the paedophile analogy doesn't really work for me. That's a serious crime. The BNP - while their views are abhorrent - don't technically break the law (until they incite racial hatred).

Bottom line for me in this case is that the BNP won nearly 1 million votes in the European election. Whether we like it or not, people have voted for them, and in a democracy are entitled to hear what they have to say.

And then we can show them up for what they really are.

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