Thursday, November 05, 2009
Fighting the BNP
There was a lot of debate about the BBC's decision the other week to invite Nick Griffin onto Question Time, with some arguing that his loathesome BNP should be denied the oxygen of publicity, whilst others pointed out that they must be confronted and defeated in debate.
I am instinctively in the latter category, believing that 'no-platform' policies such as those operated by the National Union of Students are well-meaning but counter-productive. Certainly, the scenes of a near-riot outside BBC TV centre on the evening of Griffin's appearance were very unhelpful, giving the impression that it is those who oppose the BNP who are the extremists, seeking to deny a political party a fair hearing. That is exactly what the BNP want people to believe, with themselves cast as sensible, plain-speaking underdogs, rather than the racists and bigots that they are.
In the event, I think it was right to allow mainstream politicians to debate with Mr Griffin, and he clearly showed his true colours, and came out of it a diminished figure. We cannot ignore the fact that a minority of people - including in my own area in Eltham - are turning to fringe parties because they feel let-down by the mainstream parties. Addressing their concerns whilst exposing the racist agenda of the BNP is the key to confronting this menace to our society.
If people want to take an active role in fighting the BNP, they should do it by voting - and campaigning - for other parties. Nick Griffin is standing for Parliament in Thurrock, Essex, where my good friend Jackie Doyle-Price is the Conservative candidate. The weekend after the Question Time debate I was with Jackie helping with her campaign and taking her message to the doorsteps. She will make an excellent MP, and very much hope she will be after the election. I recommend anyone- Conservative or otherwise - should work just as hard to campaign against the BNP by kicking them where it hurts - in the ballots.