After the dust settled on Question Time

23Oct09

Question Time last night could have gone one of two ways.

The first; it could have been a sedentary, measured debate resting only a third of it’s airtime on Griffin and the BNP and the rest playing out like any other edition of the show discussing pressing issues such as the Royal Mail strikes today.

The second; it could have focused entirely on Griffin giving the poisonous hate-mongerer more room to speak than any other panelists and confirming what right-minded people already knew while at the same time elevating the BNP to that of the mainstream parties while throwing him the bone he can then hit back with by turning the show into a Roman amphitheatre. Griffin is the prisoner, the panel and studio audience are the lions and Dimbleby is Caeser with the power to decide when the carnage ends.

Guess what, it was the latter and boy did it make good television, pity it has now opened a Pandora’s Box of much more serious issues than just the hysteria of seeing the Boogyman, Griffin actually sitting on a panel show with civilised people.

The issues that worry me the most are that, although it was fun to Twitter alongside thousands of others, we were all saying the same things. We didn’t need convincing last night, we already knew what to expect and we have probably (or most of us) already decided who we are voting for at the next election.

What people are failing to remember is that Griffin is no fool. He is a well rehearsed orator and has not managed to scuttle to the top of a well-known political group without some public backing and allies. The European Elections proved that this year and our leaders are guilty of not addressing why a racist party in a democratic society has come up smelling of roses.

People vote for the BNP because they know where to be seen. The home of the disenfranchised, unemployed, incapacitated family, the town ravaged by Thatcher and inert now in poverty, the whiter-than-white communities in Middle England with about as much tolerance for change as irritable bowel syndrome has for madras – these are the places. People who are desperately looking for somebody to put them first and promise to keep them first, and are happy to vote for whomever promises that, who tells them they are being shortchanged by the government and they deserve better. Why? Because they are British. Because that is only right that should matter. And they cling to that right because maybe that is all they think they have.

Granted there are doctors, teachers, journalists and even a peer or two who are paid up members of the BNP, but the bulk of their support comes from those who feel neglected, see their communities changed by immigration and feel increasingly alienated from the majority of society. This translates into anger which the BNP feed off because, guess what, they actually come to these communities and tell them exactly what they want to hear.

A similar thing happened in Germany about 70 years ago but I struggle to remember how that all ended…Such a long time ago, I’m sure it doesn’t matter. After all who ever heard of history repeating itself? Haha.

Extreme times benefit the extreme parties. Today’s papers, if you can wade through the football report-style commentary on Question Time about who scored how many points, are telling us that our economy has shrunk again after a brief growth and the recession fog still hasn’t lifted. None of the main political parties have made themselves heard by the people that most desperately need their help in improving their lives.

Bonnie Greer’s Chicago twang and Baroness Warsi’s polite lilt aside – there were no regional accents there last night, no grass-roots politicians, no local-boy-made-goods. Those who the programme makers should have attempted to target had David Dimbleby,  two powerful white, middle-aged, middle class MPs, one Baroness, one British Museum deputy chairwoman and finally, somebody they can relate to, Nick Griffin, the man that says everything they want to hear.

And for those of us who sided with the more democratic members of the panel, Bonnie Greer and David Dimbleby were the only people on that stage that didn’t make me cringe, and Dimbleby is supposed to be the mediator!

All in all, the furious protesters rallying outside Television Centre knew full well what would happen last night. The BNP were given a platform courtesy of the licence payer and the bear-bating ensued, although, infuriatingly the bear wouldn’t stop grinning the entire way through.

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One Response to “After the dust settled on Question Time”

  1. Sadly for the BBC (and the General Public) it all backfired.

    It was a controversial stunt which could make or break Griffin. Griffin wasn’t stupid, being attacked for the last week or so running up to it, he was prepared, he was laid back and took a soft approach (never on the defensive although everyone was attacking him). In fair, he handles pressure better than Gordon Brown… not to say we should ever even think about Griffin as PM.

    I think Jack Straw who is very experienced was very weak on the panel.

    The intention was highlighting how bad Griffin and Co is but in fact a survey states more people will now vote for them. Disaster!


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