This Thursday evening BNP leader Nick Griffin appeared on the BBC’s Question Time, a show where a panel of five politicians or public figures face questions from an audience made up of ostensibly ordinary people. If you haven’t already seen it then I suggest you watch it on iplayer. If you’re not from the
In the week or so leading up to his appearance, many politicians expressed their concerns that the BNP should not be given such a mainstream platform from which to express their views. Peter Hain, the Welsh Secretary was the most outspoken critic of the decision by the BBC, saying that ‘you cannot treat the BNP like all the other parties.’ I would argue that we have to. Freedom of speech and democracy are values that are fundamental to our society, to deny the BNP a platform from which to speak would be to fly in the face of those values. We may rightly abhor
I’m not going to claim that this was wholly achieved on Question Time on Thursday, but it did go some way to showing exactly how vile a man Nick Griffin is. The show was not without its problems; with a clearly hostile audience and even David Dimbleby, the host, at times unable to hide his bias, it occasionally descended into farce. I would not go as far as to say, as
That being said enough was done to make
Despite some problems, then, I think we can say that Peter Hain was wrong. We should allow extremist to have a voice, both because of the principle of free speech and because we need to publicly show extremist and hate based ideologies to be absurd. We cannot ignore them; we have to battle them head on in a civilised debate. While Dimbleby may have made the debate into a farce at times on Thursday, in principle what happened was exactly what should have happened.