Friday, 23 October 2009

BNP on Question Time: Reflections on a sad day for the BBC

Thanks to a ratings-hungry BBC, the revolting British National Party have now become a legitimate part of the political establishment. Despite the best efforts of Unite Against Fascism and others, last night the leader of the BNP, Nick Griffin, took his place at the Question Time table. For the sake of an evening's bear baiting, and the name of 'free speech', the liberal(-ish) majority have given a platform to a party that can't help but gain from the exposure.

Unsurprisingly I followed the live event, and about five hours of preamble, on Twitter. I even set up a new Twitter account so, if I felt the need, I could call Nick Griffin a 'Fascist Cunt' without offending my more sensitive regular Twitter followers. By the end, however, I was equally exasperated by the mainstream Twitterati. There were two main twittering themes:
1) Unite Against Fascism were as bad as the BNP.
2) Nick Griffin showed himself to be a bigoted fool and he would lose credibility.

"Unite Against Fascism were as bad as the BNP"
This sort of comment was particularly forthcoming from Tories (probably because they have much in common with the BNP), although seemingly no faction was immune to such stupidity. The problem is that the majority banging on about 'free speech' come from very secure white middle-class liberal backgrounds, and are unlikely to suffer the repercussions of a rise in racism. If I had been the victim of the sort of rascist crap that the BNP peddle, and I was worried about the rise of the BNP, I would go to bed happier knowing that there were people willing to take to the streets rather than sitting on the sidelines twittering 'tut tut, bad show'.

Nick Griffin showed himself to be a bigoted fool and he would lose credibility

Whenever Griffin looked uncomfortable, or gave an un-PC response, I thought Twitter would melt from the unrestrained joy of the people updating about Question Time. However whilst the middle class Twitterati were seeing a man showing himself to be a moronic racist, there will have been great swathes of the population seeing a man being ridiculed by 'the establishment' and the 'politically correct majority' for having similar opinions to them. There are concerns about immigration and changes in modern Britain, and in the bear pit of Question Times these concerns were not addressed.

Last night's Question Time was news because it was the BNP's first appearance. Next time it won't be such a big deal. Thankfully there are organisations like Unite Against Fascism that won't take it lying down.

Monday, 19 October 2009

BNP Debate 'illegal': Hain regains some credibility

Once upon a time, based on his work as an anti-apartheid campaigner, Peter Hain had a lot of credibility. He then fell from grace in 2008 due to failure to declare donations in his campaign to be Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. As Jeremy Hardy said on the News Quiz at the time (if memory serves me correctly), something strange happens to people when they enter the House of Commons. It is therefore good to see Hain speaking out on a topic he believes in and is respected for.

There is no place for the BNP in British Politics or on the BBC

Amongst the majority there is no debate about the BNP: They are a disgusting party built on fear and ignorance. There is however a debate on whether the mainstream parties should engage in political debate with them. Whilst some argue that you can only expose their ignorance through open debate, others argue that providing them with a forum provides them with credibility they don't warrant. I'm with Alan Johnson on this one, as he said on the Politics Show a few weeks ago: "I’ve gone 59 years without sharing a platform with a fascist, and I don’t intend to start doing it now."

Question Time will offer a forum for the BNP to offer very simplistic solutions to very complicated problems. It is a format that generally leaves me exasperated by the stupidity of the general population; panelists play to the crowd and those offering the opinions of the most popular papers get the biggest rounds of applause. When the popular papers are the Daily Mail and the Sun, both of which love to support the ignorance of the little Englander, it is easy to see how the stupidity of the BNP can appeal to the stupidity of the masses.

Whilst I have little hope that the BNP's trip to question time will be canceled, it's good to hear that there are MPs still willing to say that it is wrong.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Goodbye Conference Season, Hello Campaigning

The conference season is finally over. The parties have stopped dragging out the idiotic celebs and sports people, and now prepare for the run-in to an election that I believe will be much closer than the polls suggest.

At the moment it looks like it will be an easy win for the Conservatives, but as the big day approaches (no later than June 3rd 2010) there will be a sharp narrowing of the polls. It is one thing to vote for the party of privalege in local and European elections (however despicable it may be), but people will hopefully realise that it is another thing to hand over the running of the whole country to a network of Old Etonians.

The internet provides an opportunity for every person who wants to see a more equal society to contribute to the online discussion. To highlights the good of the left and the evils of the right. Even if people feel there is a need for change, and don't want to support the current Labour government, then few would disagree that the Liberal Democrats are a more acceptable alternative.

There is never an excuse to vote for the right, and it's everybody's job to make sure we get that message across.