NickGriffin_1403917c (Large)It was the politics of the bear pit.  In last night’s Question Time, Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party was harangued by the audience, his fellow panellists and by the chairman, David Dimbleby.  He was rarely given an opportunity to answer a question without being howled down.  In their determination to portray Mr Griffin as a monster, the BBC exposed a vein of fear that runs deep in British society.  You have only to join the crowd on the Kop or go to the pub after the match to realise that Mr Griffin’s views have more support that we might care to imagine.  In the industrial wastelands of Lancashire and South Yorkshire, the opinions of the BNP seep up through scuffed floorboards, they drip through cracks in the ceiling.  

To be fair, Griffin has tried to present a more reasonable face of British Nationalism, but the concept is outmoded.  We live in a multicultural society based on understanding and integration; we must welcome those who chose to live in this country, not isolate and alienate them. That way only leads to conflict and fear.

But was anything gained by the lynch mob that the BBC assembled to attack Mr Griffin?  In my opinion, no!  It exposed a nasty, vicious side of British politics, which, by contrast, left Mr Griffin almost ennobled by his calm demeanour under attack.  In holding such a mediaeval public trial, the BBC has just deepened the split in society.  Mr Griffin and the BNP won’t go away; a one time boxing blue, he clearly loves a fight – his grievous resolve will only be strengthened by such ritual humiliation.  

Peter Hain suggested that Griffin’s appearance on Question Time was an early Christmas present for the BNP.  It was, but not in the way he imagined it.  The way the programme was conducted ensured that the beleaguered Mr Griffin, another one-eyed political leader, will be regarded by many as a courageous martyr.  In the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is King.     

It was Voltaire who said, ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’  When politicians have been exposed as weak and vacillating or downright deceptive and manipulative, it has been the BBC that has upheld principles of democracy and free speech.  Last night their cover was blown.  The corporation’s poodle, David Dimbleby, the appalling Jack Straw, strident Baroness Warzi, forgettable Chris Huhne and an intelligent mob from West London savaged the Griffin unmercifully.  But he is an elected MEP; he represents a large body of people. He deserves to be heard.  And we must have the right to hear him and disagree.  That is free speech! But Dimbleby and his pack of rottweilers were frightened.  They rarely gave him chance to expound.  Only the lovely Bonnie Greer came out of it with any real dignity.  

Last night was a bad night for the BBC; a bad night for Britain!