Daily Mail, 19 October 2009
The participation on this Thursday’s Question Time of the British National Party leader Nick Griffin is a priceless publicity coup for his party.
From the commotion this is causing, a casual observer might imagine that Griffin is the pivotal figure in British political life.
His appearance is being treated by the chattering classes as the biggest showdown since Attila the Hun’s rampage through Gaul was halted by the Roman general Flavius Aetius in 451AD.
Never has a TV show attracted more feverish attention. Broadcasting executives and party officials are drawing up and re-drawing battle plans and strategies to deal with this one-man threat to the body politic.
The selection of the other panellists has been decided around one question alone — how to contain and demolish Nick Griffin.
The reason for the frenzy is the fear that the high-profile BBC1 Question Time panel format will enable him to present himself as a reasonable politician.
Alas, despite all the uproar, his opponents have settled upon the wrong strategy. And the reason they have got it wrong is precisely why Griffin has made the headway that he has.
In a democracy, politicians from distasteful but lawfully constituted political parties – and the BNP is a legal organisation, with two MEPs — should not have their views suppressed but taken on and defeated in argument.
But to do so, the positions they take and the source of their appeal have to be honestly acknowledged. And that is what the political class is getting so badly wrong.
For the strategy being adopted to contain and destroy Griffin is to attack him for being a racist. Which he is.
But that is not the reason for his appeal. Those who support him do not in the main do so because they are racially prejudiced. It is because he also opposes mass immigration, Islamisation and the loss of sovereignty to the EU.
These are all legitimate concerns which are widely held by people who fear the loss of Britain’s historic identity — but which are stigmatised as beyond the pale by an intelligentsia which considers any such expression of nationalistic sentiment to be a form of racism.
The BNP really is racist. Its constitution states it is ‘wholly opposed to racial integration’ between British and non-European people, and that it wants to restore ‘the overwhelmingly white makeup’ of Britain before 1948.
But because legitimate feelings about national identity are also deemed to be racist, Griffin has been able to present the entire political mainstream as a conspiracy against the interests of ordinary people.
By cleverly sanitising the BNP message over recent years, he has thus been able to pose as a victim of political correctness.
Yesterday, he showed his slipperiness in an interview on Sky News in which he unblinkingly claimed that he now had no problem with ’settled ethnic minorities’ such as Afro-Caribbeans, Sikhs or Hindus, only with ‘colonists who want to change our country into something completely different’ — which is code for those who want to Islamise Britain and replace its values with Islamic Sharia law.
Such distinctions should fool no one. The BNP is hostile not merely to Islamic supremacists but to all Muslims, including those who threaten no one’s way of life.
And as a report by the Centre For Social Cohesion reported recently, BNP members and supporters still display significant enthusiasm for key neo-Nazi ideas including condoning violence, anti-Semitism, admiration of Hitler’s Germany and extreme racist views.
The head of the BNP’s legal team, Lee Barnes, has even advocated the downfall of Western civilisation so that BNP supporters can ‘take power in the ensuing chaos with a mandate for radical change’.
And although last week’s legal ruling means that the party can no longer bar membership to non-white individuals, the fact remains that the membership policy it is now being forced to change is a racist one.
Like all quasi-fascist movements, the BNP is supremely opportunistic, using legitimate grievances which the political mainstream has ignored as a Trojan horse for its own horrible objectives.
To expose Griffin on Question Time, he needs therefore to be opposed by people who endorse the legitimate elements of his platform but repudiate the bigotry.
He should be taken on by the decent, white working and middle classes — those sections of the community from where he is drawing most support, and which most urgently need to hear people like themselves say to his face ‘not in my name’.
It is such people alone who can take the ground from under his feet. But instead, his fellow panellists have been drawn from precisely the ‘liberal elite’ that he rails against to such effect.
This is because there seems to have been a governing fear that if anyone gave him any ground at all this would be tantamount to endorsing him.
So there are reports that an early proposal to fill the ‘ independent gadfly’ role on the panel by Douglas Murray, the right-of-centre director of the anti-Islamist Centre For Social Cohesion, was vetoed because of the danger of creating the impression that any of Griffin’s ideas were legitimate.
Instead, playwright Bonnie Greer was selected. But as a Left-wing black American, she is unlikely to get under Griffin’s skin simply by virtue of the colour of her own.
Because of electoral fairness restrictions, the programme had to offer the remaining three panel places to Labour, the Tories and the LibDems.
All these parties promptly fell into the trap. The LibDems’ choice, Chris Huhne, can be picked off as a classic example of the out-of-touch, upper-class, on-the-make political elite.
Labour’s choice, Jack Straw, is compromised by his record of sucking up to radical Islamists. And the Tories’ choice, Baroness Warsi, is vulnerable to the charge that in the 2005 General Election she campaigned in white areas of Dewsbury for ‘British identity and British citizens’, while in Muslim areas she played upon anti-war and anti-gay Muslim feelings.
Griffin can easily use such issues to land some powerful blows. And if the other panellists try to destroy him as a racist, he will win hands down. All he has to do is appear to be the victim of this ‘liberal elite’ — merely for making apparently reasonable points in a quiet and restrained manner.
After all, his personal target audience in the country at large are already vilified as ‘racist’ or some variety of ‘phobe’ whenever they seek to support bedrock British values. Every time that accusation is thrown at Griffin on Thursday night, he will go up in their estimation.
The liberal intelligentsia has put the BNP’s rise down to the bigotry and imbecility of ordinary people.
Having turned patriotism from a civic virtue into a racial crime, however, it is that elite which has driven thousands of decent, patriotic British people, both white and dark-skinned, to supporting the BNP.
This is because it appears to be the only party (except for UKIP, which is seen to be a single issue, anti-European organisation) that allows them to uphold such a belief.
What a terrible indictment — that the only party which allows people to express their patriotism is one that exploits and manipulates such feelings for other, unsavoury, ends.
The mainstream parties seem principally concerned to demonstrate their own virtue by competing to be the loudest to denounce the BNP as vile and despicable.
This, however, conceals a devastating reality — that the people who are truly responsible for the rise of the BNP by abandoning and demonising the ordinary decent people of Britain are none other than themselves.