Griffin breathes deep on oxygen of publicity…

NOW that Question Time is over and you’ve had a bit of time to reflect on BNP leader Nick Griffin’s appearance, do you think the Beeb was justified in letting him on? Has anyone changed their mind? Certainly many protesters haven’t. And how did the panellists perform? Did Griffin seem like ‘any other politician’, and were his views in any way legitimised?

Personally, I thought Griffin looked a bit nervous and maybe even over-awed, and I was left with the impression that I couldn’t believe a word he was saying. Coming from Northern Ireland, seeing extremists trying to act reasonably on the BBC while wrapped in a flag is a bit passé, so the experience for me didn’t feel novel, as it must have done in GB.

I was not particularly impressed by the other performances either. No real killer blows where the hype demanded it, perhaps indicative of the fact that it is due to other parties’ failures that Griffin was present. The main political party representatives, particularly Straw, seemed somewhat muddled and confused about immigration, trying to oppose Griffin’s anti-immigration views without saying they were opening the floodgates. Explaining nuance isn’t really suited to QT’s format, but for Griffin it’s more easily explicable, in fact it’s a black and white issue. Here, Griffin was at least consistent – consistently abhorrent, especially with his odd and dangerous views on Britain’s ‘indigenous'(?) races. But did his appeal to some lowest common denominator land the punches he claimed afterwards? Not really, I think.

Selected highlights here, for those outside the UK or with short attention spans. Hearts & Minds explored the issue from a local perspective with Roy Greenslade, David Vance (who sounded almost reasonable after hearing Nick earlier!) and Paddy Meehan of the Youth Against Racism group here. Is there a lesson from Northern Ireland that the English need to learn?

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