Yeah, I know this is supposed to be a music blog, but I thought I’d try my hand at a semi-serious comment piece for once. Consider it an experiment – and if no-one cares or likes it I guess I’ll just go back to being cynical about awards shows and slagging off Lady Gaga.
I must admit that, after the BNP gained a seat in Yorkshire in this year’s European Elections, I felt some guilt for not voting. Not because my one puny vote would have made all the difference, but because I hadn’t even bothered to go out and make my own personal stand against them. For the first time the danger of political apathy was illuminated in stark detail – perhaps, I realised, even if you don’t care about who wins, you should at least care about who shouldn’t be winning. And The BNP should definitely NOT be winning. (Yes, you could argue that I should have learned that in History lessons, but never mind…)
However, without the BNP’s perceived increase in credibility, we wouldn’t have had the entertaining spectacle of their leader, one Mr. Nick Griffin, appearing on this week’s Question Time. Even before the event it had divided opinion – Welsh Secretary Peter Hain was particularly up in arms about it, mewling weakly to an incredulous Jeremy Paxman that the BBC could face legal action for allowing them on the program despite the legality of their constitution having been called into question. (An aside, but it’s not quite accurate to say that no-one ever voted for Will Young – did you not quite grasp how the whole Pop Idol thing worked, Paxman?) And while the BBC itself waved the flag of impartiality around, and Mr. Griffin scoffed at his political peers’ stupidity for kicking up a fuss about it, I’m sure what most people were hoping is that he would make an absolute tit of himself.
So, did he? It’s not a question with a straightforward answer. In the aftermath, petty victories were claimed by Griffin’s fellow panalists (and others besides), while Griffin himself bawled about how he was essentially subject to a lynch mob – in particular, he felt aggrieved at the fact that the questioning was overly focused on him and his party. To which my reply would be “what did you expect, dipshit?” Granted, he almost has a point that he wasn’t really allowed to discuss the ‘issues of the day’ (citing the postal strike as an example) – except for the fact that, like it or not, he was the issue of the day.
However, he still managed to make himself look like a bigot even when the BNP wasn’t being directly discussed – ok, discussing Jan Moir‘s cretinous article about Stephen Gately was almost setting Griffin up to make a homophobic comment, but it’s testament to his sheer bloody-minded belief in his own intolerance that he walked right into it with only the most cursory attempt to come across as non-homophobic. And that’s to say nothing of some of his other choice quotes, from his concept of a ‘non-violent’ Ku Klux Klan, to his sickening attempt to align himself with Christianity – which former Archbishop Lord Carey has described as “chilling”. Also of note was his attempt to squirm out of a question on Holocaust denial by essentially asserting that France or Germany might arrest him for it – you’d have thought that both countries had police officers waiting outside the studio, waiting to drag him away as soon as the program had finished.
Mr Griffin also moaned that the program shouldn’t have taken place in London, displaying his usual profound racial sensitivity by claiming that levels of immigration now mean that it is “no longer a British city”. Clearly, he’s not got a leg to stand on here – he knew well in advance that the program was to take place in London, and could surely have requested to appear on a different edition of the show. But he was obviously so desperate for the publicity that he’d happily take whatever the BBC were offering – indeed, I half wonder if it was a calculated move, a prime opportunity to play the ‘victim’ and ‘underdog’ cards that the BNP seem so fond of.
Even after the event, Peter Hain hasn’t given up whining about it, claiming that recent Telegraph/YouGov poll results show that “The BBC has handed the BNP the gift of the century on a plate” – a massively hyperbolic statement when you consider that we haven’t even got through ten percent of said century yet. That aside, the headline result does indeed seem quite shocking at first – nearly 1 in 4 say they’d vote for the BNP! OMG! But when you get down to the exact details, it’s not quite as drastic as it sounds – only 4% of people said they would ‘definitely’ vote for the the BNP, and a full two-thirds said they wouldn’t vote for them under any circumstances. However, while the poll indicates that a BNP majority is still a pipe-dream for the party, it also suggests that the mainstream parties need to start addressing voter concerns when it comes to immigration, as over half the respondents conceded that the BNP ‘had a point’ on these issues.
Personally, I think Nick Griffin proved himself to be a blithering idiot on Question Time, unable to properly defend himself when his foul views were exposed and called into question. There is, however, the argument that he got such a kicking that people might just start feeling sorry for him – indeed, The BNP claims that it gained 3000 members during the transmission of this week’s Question Time program. We only have their word for it, of course – but I would hope that the message that Nick Griffin gave to the majority of viewers sounded more like this: