Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Nick of time

As something of a follow-up to my entry made during and directly after this week's edition of Question Time which featured BNP leader and MEP Nick Griffin, I'd like to bring under the spotlight this article written for The Times by one of Griffin's fellow panellists on Thursday night, Bonnie Greer.

One of my observations on Thursday was that I found Bonnie Greer to be a highly intelligent and interesting person, and her article confirms this viewpoint further. Greer's article gives one of the most balanced and sensible views on how Griffin's appearance on the show should be taken. She essentially reminds us that, whilst being presented in the context of a forum for debate, Question Time is ultimately a TV programme, and as such any analysis or comment upon it should regard it primarily as that, even though four of the five panellists were politicians. This, to me, seems the most logical way of dealing with the show and its ramifications. It was not held in parliament, but in a TV studio. It's a TV show about politics first and foremost and a political debate a distant second. Past guests, who are often very much "flavours of the month", confirm this.

Greer then goes on to state how she thinks the show should be seen as the start of a new wave of recognition for exactly what type of person Nick Griffin is. Again, I am inclined to agree with this viewpoint. Many seem to have viewed this week's Question Time as the culmination of the BNP's climb to being recognised as a legitimate political party (I would say that them winning two seats in the European parliament was probably a slightly bigger step than an appearance on BBC One, but never mind). Instead, it should be seen as the beginning of a new chapter, and not a particularly positive chapter for Griffin and his party. Whilst some may see Question Time as legitimising the BNP by giving them a platform, I personally see it as the BBC recognising that the legitimacy ship has already sailed (I refer again to their seats in Europe) and starting the process of toppling the BNP from the level to which they have somehow managed to climb. As Greer so eloquently states:

"By exposing the two-bit rhetoric of [Nick Griffin's] position, Question Time has shown that the emperor has no clothes. Now the long debate can begin. This long debate was never meant to be held on Question Time."

I couldn't agree more. Instead of seeing Griffin's appearance as a defeat for decency and accepting that, people should be using it to bolster the huge amount of weight the BNP have against them. Griffin on Question Time was not the end, but the start of a renewed campaign against them. I hope Bonnie Greer remains at the front of that campaign.

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