Question Time – a review

So, last night’s Question Time on the BBC featured Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP. I’m sure you knew that anyway, there was a huge amount of controversy over whether he should be allowed to appear.

I think he should have been on. Whether we like it or nor his party currently represents two constituencies in the European Parliament and receives significant numbers of votes at elections of every type. But beyond that, restricting the free speech of someone we don’t like is a slippery slope that leads to the sort of politics the BNP peddles.

But once he was there, how did he do?

To be honest I was disappointed with him. Given that he has over the last few years given the BNP electorial credibility I was expecting someone who was a skilled and clever politician. In the end he came across as nervous, evasive and at times scared. The rest of the panel and the bulk of the audience was clearly strongly against him, however they didn’t go for the kill in the way that I thought they might. Yet Griffin showed himself to be ill at ease in the situation while his use of language was clumsy and awkward and he seemed to possess no rhetorical skill.

Instead, he seemed to catch himself out more often than the rest of the panel did and his attempts to laugh off some of his previous quotes, or to join in with a perceived bonhomie on the panel looked very distasteful. There was one incident when he seemed to pat Bonnie Greer on the back that was particularly unnerving.

That said, I was also very unimpressed with Jack Straw on the panel. He seemed to want to attack the BNP rather than offer a real alternative to its voters. He talked a lot without saying anything and on the subject of immigration, which Baroness Warsi rightly said needed an honest debate, he was at his most evasive.

The person that actually came across best on the show was the non-politician and that was Bonnie Greer. She was rightfully dismissive of the BNP’s views without resorting to personal attacks.

But what this all shows to me is that although I find the BNP’s politics completely abhorent, the major parties are not addressing some of the major issues and grievances felt by the electorate. Those people are seeing the BNP as the only real alternative and they will continue to do so until their issues are properly addressed.

You can watch the programme here on iPlayer, or a cut down version here from the Guardian.

Let me know your thoughts.

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4 Responses to Question Time – a review

  1. […] Question Time – a review « Independent-MPs independent-mps.co.uk/2009/10/23/question-time-a-review – view page – cached Tags: Baroness Warsi, BNP, Bonnie Greer, Chris Huhne, Debate, Democracy, Jack Straw, Nick Griffin, Parliament, politicians, Politics, Question Time — From the page […]

  2. I agree, I detest the BNP and what they stand for but do believe that it was right that they were allowed on QT (if for no other reason than to show what a retard Nick Griffin / BNP is).

    The problem is that none of the major parties want to discuss immigration and that in effect allows the BNP to be the only ones that are prepared to talk about it (all the other parties are afraid of being branded racist), and it is a big issue for a lot of people. The BNP also have very populist / man-on-the-street policies that appeal to their target demographic – poor white people (eg: death penalty for Pedophiles).

    They focus on regions with mass immigration and low employment / education, areas of real deprivation, and are the only ones that want to engage with what used to be the died-in-the-wool (old) Labour supporters. With Labour becoming New Labour and going after the middle ground (and the middle class) in order to get in to power they left behind their core supporters – allowing the BNP to swoop in and appear to be the only people who care about them. Until the major parties start to really engage with the poor working class the BNP will continue to gain in strength through being the only people on the ground that actually talk to them.

    I actually thought Jack Straw did alright, I really don’t know which other Labour (or any party for that matter) politician would / could have done a better job. He seemed to be really spoiling for a fight with the BNP and was particularly good when he pressed Griffin to tell us his thoughts on his assurance that, as Justice Minister, he wouldn’t be arrested / extradited (personally I wanted him to offer more reassurance and really challenge Griffin so that he had no other option than to express them) for Holocaust denial.

    Whilst I have no problem with the BNP being attacked on the program (the more the better is what I say) but with the whole show being about and against the BNP / race (and, even though I agree with him, Dimbleby’s strong attacks on Griffin) – giving the BNP the opportunity to say that they were bullied on the show isn’t a great thing (as talked about on This Week after QT).

    I’m not usually a fan of Bonnie’s and this was no exception, she comes across as being very smug (especially on things like Newsnight Review and QT) and whilst her points were all good and valid I don’t think they would be particularly welcome to the demographic that the BNP are after; some middle class, smug, well educated, London living foreigner telling them what’s wrong with their country. I would have thought it would have been a better idea to have the panel consist of people who appeared more ‘ordinary’ to the public (eg: no PHDs, no members of the House of Lords), people who appeared to have the ‘common touch’ (Prescott could have been good value, even if he didn’t decide to punch Griffin – which would have been amazing TV on every level).

    Overall it was good, but could have been better and Griffin could (and should) have been made to squirm so much (and shown up for who he really is and what the BNP really stand for) by both the panel and the public, that he walked off the show. I think he got off lightly.

  3. Patrick says:

    Thanks for your thoughts Stephen. As with anything like this different people will have different views. I agree with you about Bonnie Greer seeming smug and not really appealing to BNP voters either, however I felt that she was the only one not out purely to bash the BNP but to offer additional debate.

  4. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by independent_mps: [Blog] Question Time – a review http://digg.com/u1Eu7d – what are your thoughts…

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