Friday, October 23, 2009

One Night At The BBC (Or: Mindless Protests At Television Centre) #BNP #bbcqt

Last night I was at BBC Television Centre.

Not to protest.  Not to see Question Time.  I was there to see Harry Hill.  And he was excellent.  Between takes his Nick Griffin jokes were much more scathing than anything that went on in the other studio, or outside.  I highly recommend watching TV Burp on Saturday.

This is covered elsewhere, so I'm going to just briefly (as I can) say what annoyed me.

The Anti-BBC Brigade - The protesters outside the BBC, led by the UAF, spewed out anti-BBC and anti-fascist rhetoric (more on that later).  There was too much focus on the BBC, who were only following rules, and allowing a prominent figure to feature in a debate that hardly anyone usually watches anyway.  You can't stop a fascist by denying his right to freedom of speech - that only allows him to play the "one rule for you, one for everyone else" card.  Let him make a fool of himself as publicly as possible.

The Studio "Bullying" - I thought quite hard whether I should call it bullying, and I think I should.  [Edit: I think bullying maybe wasn't the right word now, as I've said in the comments.]  Griffin was very quickly shown to be a racist, bigoted fool.  Finally someone (Jack Straw) called him out on his "EU law won't let me tell you why I changed my mind about the Holocaust" lie.  He called a prominent leader of the KKK "non-violent" and then mimed a white hood over his head.

That was enough.  They didn't have to keep going on that point, but they did.  They focused on one issue (racism) that a minority already thought was okay, and the vast majority of people already found abhorrent.  No one is going to change their mind on that point.  But a few more people will have felt sorry for Griffin, as they did gang up on him and they did bully him [and he will be able with some success to claim he was bullied].

Why did no one attack his unrealistic policies on social housing, for example?  They think they can unilaterally take all privately-owned former council houses back under local government control.  They can't even get the URL right - their housing policy is found at  They should have got the racism point out of the way and then worked through discrediting him based on policy as well.

The Immigration Big Dick Contest - The moment someone asked a question about immigration, rather than challenging his belief in what he reads in the papers, Jack Straw looked sheepish and uncomfortable.  In stepped Warsi and Huhne, and all the mainstream politicians indulged in a quick Who's-Got-The-Toughest-Policies-On-Immigration Competition.  Isn't it obvious that pandering to misconceptions about immigration legitimises some of the BNP's arguments?

The Tabloids' Great Escape - All though Jan Moir was very briefly brought up, the press got off scot-free.  Why was the ineffectiveness of the PCC not brought up at any time?  The tabloids are the main culprits in inflaming racial tension by their misleading "facts" on immigration and Islam.  They will slam the BNP in one paragraph, and then happily give more fuel to their supporters in the next.

This is the part of the editorial in the Evening Standard (owned, remember, by a Russian) yesterday:
"... Question Time does not have the power to dominate political debate, to confer respectability on a despised party or to change the hearts and minds of the kind of people likely to vote for the BNP or subscribe to its obnoxious views. The outrage about Mr Griffin's appearance, however well-intentioned, has been disproportionate to the importance of the event.

"What will, however, do a great deal to give succour to the BNP and foment antagonism between ethnic communities is unchecked immigration."

It's like the editorial equivalent of saying "I'm not racist, but..."  He then goes on, of course, to trot out the "statistics" you've no doubt heard recently, especially the 70 million figure that is apparently traditionally wheeled out and dusted down this time of year.

[Edit to add:] Griffin is not the real threat here.  It's the lies upon which he's capitalising that we've got to worry about.  Those are what need to be challenged.

Another quick couple of interesting links...

Jon Snow's Opinion
A postman's viewpoint of the strike
Jan Moir keeps on digging...


  1. "Why did no one attack his unrealistic policies on social housing, for example? "

    Spot on, I was thinking the same myself. Why didn't anyone question him on the economic policies of the BNP, which are ludicrous to the extreme and would completely show them up as the joke that they are?

  2. My only thought was: why are people protesting against the BBC? they should be protesting outside the houses of the people who voted for the BNP, thus giving them a reason to be allowed on Question Time. The use of the BBC as a scapegoat was shortsighted (or just plain lazy?) in my opinion.

  3. Hi Phil,
    I have mixed feelings about your post.

    I agree with you on two things:
    1) The protests outside the BBC. Futile and counterproductive as well as further free publicity for the BNP.
    2)No-one picking up on the tabloids fuelling racism (interestingly though, when Jan Moir was mentioned, she's even to the right of Griffin!)

    However, I disagree that Question Time amounted to "bullying".
    You've got to remember we're talking about a party here, the BNP, which is anti-semitic (they still are no matter their attempts at covering it up), and racist. they believe in white supremacy. They do. Their white-only policy is simple evidence of that.

    Therefore it's no wonder that Griffin triggered such extreme reactions across the spectrum. For all their vociferousness, the BNP are miles away -luckily- from 90 to 95% of what British people really think.

    Finally. It's good that Griffin was exposed for what he is. T obe honest, a fascist on Question Time should be grilled on his party's views (and that's what most viewers wanted to see- hence the spectacular ratings) and not on what he thinks about the Royal Mail strike, for instance.

    Fair enough freedom of speech. But the policy of kid-glove with Mussolini and Hitler didn't take the world very far.

  4. Maybe the word bullying is a little bit on the strong side - admittedly I was probably being a bit provocative. Griffin deserved to be made to look a racist fool, and he already was in the first ten minutes.

    It was just the way it continued to be about that one idiot rather than the context which had allowed him to gain so much support. There was something uncomfortable about it.


    I think that's the better word. He's to blame, yes, but not for everything. He's an idiot. A fallguy.


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