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The BNP on Question Time.

Eddie Mair | 12:39 UK time, Friday, 23 October 2009

daviddimbleby.JPGQuestion Time attracted 7.8 million viewers at its peak last night. So many people took an interest in what was happening. But last night I was with two people with a special interest in it.

Alan and Tom are neighbours in Shrewsbury. Alan is a big BNP supporter and Tom is fervently opposed. A few months back, in the wake of our iPM opinion poll on neighbourliness, we brought them together for their first real conversation in 18 years. They had a sharp and frank discussion in our Shrewsbury studio about their politics. You can hear it in full and read listeners' reactions here.

We wondered how Alan and Tom felt about Nick Griffin being on the programme, so last night I paid them a visit at their homes, before during and after Question Time. You can hear the item on tomorrow's iPM. You can podcast iPM in a few clicks by following this link.


  • 1. At 12:57pm on 23 Oct 2009, GotToTheEnd wrote:

    Thanks, but I'd rather hear poll reaction.

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  • 2. At 1:08pm on 23 Oct 2009, pithywriter wrote:

    Is this the right place? I do get confused with all the blogs....

    Nick Griffin has at least one point that shows up the New Labour Party project for hypocrisy - that I used to vote for. (now I no longer know how to vote as I want a real, green social democracy Scandanavian style).

    Nick GRiffin gets knee jerk response to the question of the sustainability of (in effect) pinching people away from their relatively poor countries to do cheap labour jobs here - to suit the capitalists...by keeping down UK living conditions and wages; also the pinching of professionals away from their countries (doctors and nurses) where they are really needed, as it is cheaper for the NHS. This is all unethical.
    In so doing the British underclass (around 5 million on 'sickness' benefit etc) and who used to be considered the working class, are now in the 3rd or more generation of families of people who got stuck into a benefits mentality for the very sensible reason that it is stupid to have all the hassle that low paid work entails only to have nothing to spend after rent etc is paid ----so they opt for the benefits (it is still marginal even with tax credits). The MPs would do it too - if their working lives were not so cushy!

    Were the minimum wage at least doubled so that families could work and raise a family - and have a bit over to spend, there would be no need for 'welcoming' in and exploiting immigrants which is what all those protesters are supporting in essence. The protesters have not thought it through. Q. At what point does Jack Straw or the protesters say to trafficked migrants and other migrants enough! NO more! Our system can't look after 'our own'. It follows that the current logic of the protester and Jack Straw etc, (who would say wrongly I am racist too for saying this) is unsustainable. To follow their logic it is 'racist' NOT to open the door properly so that for example, the whole of Africa can migrate here if they so want! So, if THEY are NOT racists and Nick Griffin is for raising these points, then let Labour prove it by simply opening up the ports and be done with it - anything else is exploitation and pretence! It is not such a hypothetical question is it?

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  • 3. At 1:22pm on 23 Oct 2009, lucien desgai wrote:

    2 pw
    Yes it is.

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  • 4. At 1:27pm on 23 Oct 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:


    Thanks for the excellent blog and its' evidence of
    supporting and opposing the BNP and the Q.T. Show!!!!

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 5. At 1:27pm on 23 Oct 2009, SheffTim wrote:

    Immigration isn’t the top of my concerns, or even close, when it comes to voting at the next election; the cuts that are coming in public spending are more important (I work in the public sector) along with the health service, pensions etc are. I think we can assume that it will take a miracle for Labour to win, so it really comes down to choosing between the Conservatives and Lib Dems. Both their spokespeople came across as being quite sensible on Question Time; the Lib Dem in particular savaged New Labour’s record.

    I’m not in favour of unrestricted immigration, but I simply don’t believe all Muslims in Britain are covert Taliban, favour policies of repatriation for those from overseas that have legally settled here or that being white somehow makes one person superior to someone with a darker skin.

    The choice the BNP put forward is a false choice, they have an agenda based on racial superiority; nor are they the only party that will put forward policies for tightening up immigration controls come the next election. Griffin may complain about QT, but frankly even if he’d been on his own giving a 45 minute speech he still wouldn’t have won the British public over.

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  • 6. At 1:31pm on 23 Oct 2009, whatsallthisabout wrote:

    If the BBC invited Nick Griffin onto the panel in the spirit of fairness and democracy then why, I wonder, did all but one question focus on BNP bashing ? We don't usually have a situation when one panel member is the focus of all the questions and the audience appear to be rather one-sided in their views. I felt that the other political panelists got off pretty lightly, a lot of their answers were rambling and off the point and yet they weren't challenged as panelists would typically be to answer the question.
    There is no doubting that there are areas around the UK where resentment and disenchantment of the political system is brewing up and all the while the mainstream politicians don't answer these anxieties the extreme parties will step into the void - it happens all over the world. In my view no-one came out of last night's programme very well.

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  • 7. At 1:40pm on 23 Oct 2009, GotToTheEnd wrote:

    39 minutes in to this, for 3 minutes


    sounds to me like downright bad chairing to me.

    Reminds me of poor old Eddie's first essays on Any Questions.

    But from a Dimbleby? Getting this right is in his genes. Must have been deliberate, letting all the panelists (including that man on 64 thousand with nicley pressed trousers and that Cabinet Minister on 93 thousand with the nicely painted house - expenses, of course, and that nice woman who has her problems with immigration numbers and gay people!) shout the answers down.

    There is of course the oxygen of publicity (it means that Thatcher lies were eventually believed after enough repetition)but there is also the appeal of voices made difficult to hear.

    Still, the posh chattering classes can talk about how outrageous it all was, instead of toting that barge, lifting that bale, letting others plant their tators and pick their cockles, raspberries and bouquets.

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  • 8. At 1:43pm on 23 Oct 2009, vainly_here wrote:

    Not having studied Mr. Griffin, I expected him either to condemn himself out of his own mouth or to defend himself effectively. However, he was interrupted so many times I don't think he had the opportunity to do either.

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  • 9. At 1:56pm on 23 Oct 2009, GiulioNapolitani wrote:

    Excellent stuff, Eddie. I was hoping that you would give the BNP a load more free publicity on the programme today and it looks like you are happy to oblige. Thanks!

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  • 10. At 2:07pm on 23 Oct 2009, HUNTERS2 wrote:

    Congratulations BBC you give the impression you were taking a democratic stand and then assassinate both the reputation of Question Time and the BBC in one hour of pure folly. Johnathan Dimbelby independent? a joke!
    Maybe they should have let in the protestors to do the job they so obviously set out to do.



    Dimbelby NIL

    Audience NIL

    Democracy NIL

    NICK GRIFFIN + 5 without input!

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  • 11. At 2:23pm on 23 Oct 2009, Thunderbird wrote:

    I can't see what Mr G was there for. The one opportunity he had of making a real point that no one could dispute was the treatment dished out to women by Islam. He touched on the subject then let it go...

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  • 12. At 3:02pm on 23 Oct 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    Check out this assessment by, among others, Clarence Mitchell ex of the BBC.


    Can't you just read between the lines at the subtext here.. "If only he'd hire some of us PR gurus to develop a communication strategy and sign up for some 'media training' we could yet make him a 'saleable commodity' "

    I'm guessing Burson 'Bhopal' Marsteller are licking their lips at the very thought while thinking "There are no bad products, only poor marketing.."

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  • 13. At 3:09pm on 23 Oct 2009, Real_Socialist wrote:

    The reason the BBC ended up having to give airtime to the BNP is largely because they have consistently refused to allow real socialists their say. The Socialist Party of Great Britain has been around for over a hundred years, yet the BBC has NEVER allowed us airtime to condemn the real cause of economic migration and the discrimination that this can bring about — capitalism! By excluding socialists who call for an end to the profits-wages-money system, the BBC has helped allow fascists and racists to be seen as an alternative to the mainstream lookalikey Lib-Lab-Con parties who have no real answer as they all want capitalism to continue. By keeping anti-capitalist socialists out, the BBC have let the BNP in. And as the capitalist economy continues to fail (which it will), causing millions of people living in Britain to experience increasing misery and deprivation, the BNP will only grow stronger because they will keep blaming so-called 'outsiders', and many voters will swallow this lie, if real socialists continue to be prevented from pointing out the truth.

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  • 14. At 3:30pm on 23 Oct 2009, Psycho B Delic wrote:

    Ok - I couldn't be bothered to stay up way past my bed time (early riser) to watch someone who's political opinions I care little about.

    It seems like I didn't miss much.

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  • 15. At 3:58pm on 23 Oct 2009, Looternite wrote:

    When we get PR for our general elections prepare yourselves for a rightwng Tory government with UKIP and the BNP holding the balance of power or coalition partners.

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  • 16. At 4:27pm on 23 Oct 2009, Hawk wrote:

    It seems to me to have been very badly chaired. The programme was more about attacking and pulling the BNP/Griffin apart instead of being a political discussion. I am glad the BBC invited him onto the programme, it's just a shame that the programme lost focus.

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  • 17. At 4:30pm on 23 Oct 2009, Serangoon wrote:

    I applaud the BBC for inviting Nick Griffin to appear on the panel of Question Time but feel he was unfairly subjected to a sustained onslaught from the chairman,the other panel members and an extremely hostile audience, most of whom seemed to be running riot outside in an attempt to stifle free speech. It would have been a better and more balanced programme if Mr Griffin had been able to respond to a wide range of questions, as is the customary format for the show. I doubt if Jack Straw, who was desperately struggling at times, would have aquitted himself well if the entire programme had been aimed at highlighting his and his Party's faults and failings. As the viewing figures were so much greater than usual Nick Griffin should be offered the chance to return in order to redress the inbalance of last night's programme. As things stand it rather looks like he was indeed the victim of a lynch mob.

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  • 18. At 4:33pm on 23 Oct 2009, doontbelieve wrote:

    I am a regular viewer of Questiontime but last night's programme was a disgrace. I was interested to hear Nick Griffin's views on current affairs but not only did these questions not arise, the poor man was hardly allowed to speak without being shouted down by either Jack Straw or other panel members and the audience. I was shocked that Dimbleby not only allowed this to happen, but at one stage actually joined in. This sort of behaviour, by supposedly civilised people who claim to stand for 'fair play for all', only leaves me to wonder, could they be afraid of the man ? All I can say is the fellow had guts to sit on this panel. If this is the type of programme I can expect in the future - forget it.

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  • 19. At 4:40pm on 23 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

    The BBC says they followed the usual practice of putting questions asked by the audience. That seems quite likely to be true. I for one wouldn't have been asking about the postal strike or quantitative easing if I'd been there.

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  • 20. At 4:43pm on 23 Oct 2009, mrs-nostalgie wrote:

    He should have been asked about:
    The postal strike
    Banker's bonuses
    third runway at Gatwick.
    NHS and possible spanding cuts.

    Does the BNP have anything intelligent in their policies on the issues that actually affect people?

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  • 21. At 5:16pm on 23 Oct 2009, LittleBigFella wrote:

    After assuring anyone who would listen that Jack Straw and Bonnie Greer would eat NG alive I was a bit disappointed with JS' seeming lack of preparation and BG's failure to focus. BG kept it together until NG mentioned the KKK then she seemed to overload. Baroness Warsi was the only one to score consistently (although it breaks my heart to support a Tory, she played a blinder).

    Points that weren't made:

    Despite NG's allusion to the ice age (bizarre) the BNP have traditionally concentrated on Anglo Saxon identity. Does NG know where Saxony is/was?

    The difference between the Big 3 parties and the BNP is the motivation which gets their activists involved in the first place. First the fighting - then look for a cause (the left have their own quota of these idiots as well).

    NG promised that he has dragged the BNP kicking and screaming away from their racist roots. Tony Blair couldn't sustain fundamental change with the Labour Party despite a name change, Wavey Davey won't sustain Cuddly Toryness for long, the cracks are beginning to show. Why should we believe NG can do it with the indisciplined rabble he likes to present as a political party. How long would it be before he finds himself in trouble with his own crass... sorry, grass roots?

    Enough ranting. A question: Is UK immigration merely a response to the British Empire? Aren't these people just coming home? Perhaps NG would like to enlighten us on that one.

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  • 22. At 5:22pm on 23 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    Real Socialist (13) - The way it works is this.
    (1)- Get out campaigning and interest the electorate with your view on things.
    (2)- Get yourself some votes.
    (3)- When you interest enough people in elections, you'll get some BBC airtime.
    I don't think you're doing (1) properly yet.

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  • 23. At 5:24pm on 23 Oct 2009, HUNTERS2 wrote:

    Surely the point is there wasn't any political point, it wasn't a debate the pannel savaged Griffin, the chair savaged Griffin the hand picked audience savaged Griffin. Did they attack the BNP's policies NO did they discuss any current item and his opinion NO did anyone spot one person that agreed with Griifin NO why because the BBC ensured there were none. A total charade this did more damage than the censorship that has been, and showed just how much democracy the 3 main parties want us to have. Which in my opinion is only as much as we can pay for to you Mr. JACK JUSTICE MINISTER STRAW all's I have to say is EXPENSES.

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  • 24. At 5:38pm on 23 Oct 2009, newlach wrote:

    I watched Question Time this afternoon and it was very much about the questioning of Nick Griffen. He was weak when discussing the Holocaust and the Ku Klux Klan, but why were these matters given so much prominence? He did make some good points, and I do not think that he came out of the debate having suffered the hammering that some newspapers have apparently reported. Next week on Question Time will we have Bonnie Greer (British Museum trustee) defending the museum's right to keep the Elgin Marbles and all other artefacts from abroad!

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  • 25. At 5:43pm on 23 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

    newlach - if Bonnie Greer wants to run the country, she'll be there all right.

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  • 26. At 5:45pm on 23 Oct 2009, doontbelieve wrote:


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  • 27. At 5:45pm on 23 Oct 2009, UncleDance wrote:

    Earlier, the point was raised that the BBC says they followed the usual practice of putting questions asked by the audience. Just following orders, then.

    I was looking forward to a much-needed debate of very tricky issues. He faced a hostile mob not just outside but also in the studio. Surely this should have been predicted and dealt with pre-show by telling people to keep their emotions in check. And it should have been asserted by the chairman.

    So congratulations on making the man look like a victim.

    And may I remind these critics that, as much as you may hate the BNP, they must be accorded the same rights and respect and opportunity to free speech (i.e. without being verbally strung up) as anyone else. Not long ago the very same people were hounding the Americans for talking rights but not abiding by them - Abu Ghraib, etc.

    Those who were up in arms last night need to remember that the strictures that they place on others apply to them too.

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  • 28. At 5:50pm on 23 Oct 2009, lucien desgai wrote:

    27 Uncledance
    Griffin should indeed be accorded rights and the opportunity to free speech but fascists are never worthy of respect.

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  • 29. At 7:08pm on 23 Oct 2009, Lepus_Madidus wrote:

    Next week the panel will have a Red Squirrel and a Grey Squirrel?

    I'm on the side of the indigenous Red Squirrels.


    Blasted American Squirrels eating our nuts and spreading their pox.

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  • 30. At 8:26pm on 23 Oct 2009, Lepus_Madidus wrote:

    What would the QT lynch mob have done with the kid?


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  • 31. At 8:29pm on 23 Oct 2009, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Lepus (29):

    Bah. I'm on the side of the indigenous wolves and sabre-tooth tigers. In fact no, I'm actually on the side of the indigenous sauropods. Lboody mammals, coming over here with their fur and warm blood taking out ecological niche...

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  • 32. At 8:36pm on 23 Oct 2009, ingeniousCliff wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 33. At 8:40pm on 23 Oct 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    Tom and Alan,

    Clearly I have only heard the 'home leg' of the argument. I can only comment on that. Of course we can agree that racism is always wrong - but I think Tom's problem is that he would prefer to try and maintain purity of spirit by emphasising that time and time again, than make a real effort to influence Alan away from his current point of view through engaging with his concerns.

    I don't propose to get into a heated debate - but here are some thoughts on how the two could have a discussion which might have the beneficial result.]

    Message to Tom.
    Think of yourself as a lawyer - maybe one day you will be. Persuasion is not achieved by saying "I'm right and you are wrong". Look at how Sayeeda Warsi put across the argument last night with humour.

    First - however much you detest Alan's behaviour in voting BNP, you have to try and establish some 'common ground' with him. If you are not able or willing to do this, you may have to concede that you are not able to influence him to change his mind. Examples of this could be..

    - Old people dying of cold. I'm sure that neither of you think this is a good thing.
    - The state of the NHS. I'm sure that you both agree that it could do with improvement.
    - The fact that in the Second World War Britain united to defeat Germany.

    What you may disagree about are the causes and solutions to problems. You could point out the NHS is helped by doctors and nurses of differing races and backgrounds. You may need to debate how migration helps the NHS as well as discuss the pressures it puts on it. And discuss how the incoming people from, say, Poland contribute taxes that pay for old age pensions. There are problems of fuel poverty caused by rising gas prices which are exacerbated by privatised utilities that are not necessarily linked to people's race - black people can die of cold just as easily.

    Tom also needs to understand that his perfectly reasonable stance on the need to eliminate racism [to show it 'zero tolerance'] can come across as a religious belief not requiring explanation or justification and is not to be questioned lest one be excommunicated. Well I would suggest that it is worth spending some time going from first principles on this - explaining that surely he wouldn't refuse treatment from a doctor or nurse based on skin colour, to see the irrationality in it.

    And discussing in an open and honest way how some people may know who are white can be less than well-behaved when drunk [as an example] in a way most young people of whatever colour can be from time to time - it is down to youthful behaviour which is not related to skin colour.

    Of course Alan may not see it that way to begin with - and indeed there are wider issues about the education system which may need to be covered. But that starting down the road of making decisions on skin colour may not seem damaging to Alan in the short term - but one may not be able to stop the bandwagon when it gains a dangerous momentum to the kind of world the British went to war to avoid.

    Message To Alan.
    I think you need to try and explain to Tom clearly what your real concerns are, and why you think the BNP are the answer to them, so that Tom can see your viewpoint, and understand what problems you really need solved.

    If you think the scale of immigration is a problem, emphasise that it is the number and not people's colour which is a concern. Maybe talk about how nightclubs have to maintain a check on numbers as part of their fire regulations which is a separate issue from checking people's appearance on the way in [ "You cannot come in here wearing jeans and trainers.."]

    You could suggest to Tom that he is wrong in saying you see yourself as an 'oppressed minority' - but you have a concern that the voice of the minority of very elderly people who don't have enough money to pay their heating bills is not being heard, and that this is what is troubling you.

    Maybe the quicker solution to that problem is to lobby the current party in power, rather than pin hopes to a party which is not going to be in Government, but is seen more as a lobby group.

    Perhaps you have a concern about the level of interference and control by the EU. There are some people who voted for UKIP without knowing all their policy points but who, for example, felt they were going to help to 'Keep the Pound'. It is worth mentioning that people can protest or vote tactically because, for example, at frustration that all the parties have similar policies on say a 'Lisbon referendum'.

    You could try and put the ball in Tom's court by saying "I want a better NHS, a better deal for the elderly, and to have control on the numbers of people migrating decided at national level - how do you think that could best be achieved ?"

    And explain what you mean by Britishness. It is different for different people. Welshness and Scottishness conjures up different things for different people. People in Yorkshire may relate to their county more than their country. So Tom may just think that 'British-ness' is too big an umbrella for us to squeeze under. But you may think it is about the fair play, unity of purpose and belief in the common good which helped to bring Allies to our side when we needed to win two World Wars.

    You may need to understand that with the way history is taught now, the younger generation can see history as 'black and white' without time for the experience of the teachers to show teach the 'shades of grey'. And you should ask him to explain properly the meaning and activity lying beneath the quick cliche of a slogan like 'hope not hate' and what are the activities he and others are involved with to make it a reality.

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  • 34. At 11:06pm on 23 Oct 2009, LittleBigFella wrote:

    Hunters2 (23), I agree that the discussion was clumsy and not the concerted effort Jacqui Smith alluded to on Any Questions this evening, at least not the professional philosophical surgery I think we might have expected but I don't think David Dimbleby treated NG with any less respect than I've seen him treat other politicians who seem to be avoiding or rewriting questions on the spot.

    Nick Griffin, like other fringe contriutors offers simplistic answers to complex questions. Having grown up in Northern Ireland in the 70's I well remember the appetite for quick solutions. Individuals who in more settled times would have been given short shrift found a fearful congregation willing to consider any snake oil salesman with a mob who seemed to be on their side. Ironically, all sides had their own shortcut merchants offering quick fix answers. They even had grudging respect for each other. I wasn't surprised to hear NG claim common purpose with Abu Hamsa and Cnl Gaddafi.

    It seems to me it's not politics they are engaging in but myth building and to carry on the day to day political banter usual on QT would be to ignore the fact that political engagement is not the BNP way. Myth building breeds conflict through fear, it's their comfort zone however NG might dress it up for now.

    Sorry about the abbreviations, Nick Griffen is such a handful to keep typing. Perhaps we could shorten it in the same way as Susan Boyle became SuBo.

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  • 35. At 11:11pm on 23 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

    Is it my imagination, or does more right-wing = less literate?

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  • 36. At 11:36pm on 23 Oct 2009, lucytemperley wrote:

    Isn't it funny that Nick Griffin describes his experience on Question Time as 'a lynch mob'? Does he know what that expression means or where it comes from? For decades in the southern United States, African Americans were routinely lynched (illegally executed by a mob). I doubt that Nick Griffin has ever come close to being illegally executed by a mob. He is fortunate to live in a country and in a time where he is protected from such actions. On the other hand, his rhetoric is of the kind that encourages others to use violence illegally. Would he know what to do if he were ever confronted by a real lynch mob? Would he perhaps join in with his party members if they were to organize a lynch mob? And if Question Time is so frightening to him, is he really made of the right stuff to be the leader of a political party?

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  • 37. At 11:37pm on 23 Oct 2009, lucytemperley wrote:

    Gosh, moderators, don't you get tired of reading all these posts?

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  • 38. At 06:55am on 24 Oct 2009, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Lucy (36):

    In fact, given his association with a prominent member of the KKK, you'd think Mr Griffin would know *exactly* what a lynch-mob was.

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  • 39. At 09:48am on 24 Oct 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    A thought-provoking film by an independent production company..


    This expose 'contains strong language'..

    It also usefully refers to a figure of 'some 20% of people considering voting BNP' BEFORE the Question Time film, so it ill behoves Peter Hain to blame the BBC for the numbers seen in the survey quoted in the Telegraph.

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  • 40. At 10:09am on 24 Oct 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Sid: I'm amazed he got a 2:2 from a Cambridge University. Checking (as you do) about his degree, I see he went to Homerton. What a pity, then, that he didn't come out like Andy Hamilton. Oh, and speaking of 'coming out' (but in a different context), I was intrigued by a reference in his Wiki article (NG I mean, not AH)

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  • 41. At 11:01am on 24 Oct 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    One wonders whether consideration is now being given to allowing another member of the BNP, say Andrew Brons MEP, to appear on Any Questions during 2010 ?

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  • 42. At 11:35am on 24 Oct 2009, ellie50plus wrote:

    Personally, it was right that NG was on QT. He came across as a squirming nervous wreck, however he must have known that he would be challenged- he is a politician and is supposed to be an itellectual!
    The audience was hostile, partly I guess, because they represented a cross section of the British public and partly because if there were more right wing, facist followers the program would disintigrate into mayhem.
    As for the rest of the panel, Jack Straw said a lot and yet again, nothing, as usual! Bonnie and the Baroness were the most eloquent, and full marks to Bonnie, to be able to sit next to the man. The Lib Dem and Tory reps I cant really remember their names, let alone if they said anything significant. My feeling at the end was that NG wasnt really allowed to finish saying anything, and that there wasnt the varied subject normally covered. But there is no way that the programme would sway me to vote for the BNP.

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  • 43. At 11:50am on 24 Oct 2009, Looternite wrote:

    #39. lordBeddGelert
    Thanks for the link.

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  • 44. At 12:05pm on 24 Oct 2009, Looternite wrote:

    I am not that bothered about the BNP as I advise everyone watch England football team and, as I have said before on these blogs, you will see a group of men working together as a team.
    They are multi-ethnic and they represent England. There will be huge public support come the world cup competition. Lets make sure we recognise that they are English men representing this country and they are talented and MULTI-ETHNIC.
    I think it's in part the medias obsession with negativity that focuses only on negative news items and this means that we get the impression that all is crap.
    Perhaps if the BBC looked at positive news occasionally, we would not have such an all is crap lets blame someone attitude.

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  • 45. At 4:27pm on 24 Oct 2009, Real_Socialist wrote:

    PrestonFirmlie (22)

    The SPGB does get out campaigning, but exclusion from the airwaves inevitably serves to keep our Party small.

    The BBC are only doing what the mainstream pro-capitalism parties want them to do. The last thing the identical Lib-Lab-Con parties want is to have to debate with real socialists because what we advocate (a genuinely democratic moneyless free-access society) would be far better for the overwhelming majority. So, rules to maintain the capitalist status quo have been created over the years. At Nuremberg, some Nazi war criminals complained about receiving "Victors' Justice". Anti-capitalist socialists are receiving "Victors' Democracy". Politicians wanting capitalism to continue are never going to make it easy for those wanting real socialism to get our message across. The profit-driven print media, likewise.

    And because we are not allowed to air our case against capitalism, which includes its propensity to stir up fear, resentment and hatred in those suffering poor housing, low incomes, crippling taxes etc, the BNP has been able to exploit this lack of awareness.

    And with a redundant capitalist economy only able to be sustained by ever more debt which is going to continue struggling for decades, racists and fascists are going to be the main benefactors unless their poison can be neutralised.

    The mainstream parties can't effectively counter the BNP without attacking their beloved capitalism. And those on the left wanting a return to state-run capitalism also offer no way out since we already know that more nationalisation, higher taxes for the rich etc isn't going to rescue a failing profit-driven economy. That only leaves genuine anti-capitalists who want this obsolete system completely replaced by real socialism.

    If the BBC persists in adhering to biased 'rules' designed to keep us down, they'll just be helping lift the BNP up.

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  • 46. At 5:47pm on 24 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

    I wonder if it's time to set up a 'Whingers' Thread' for the exclusive use of those who feel the world is against them?

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  • 47. At 6:03pm on 24 Oct 2009, lucien desgai wrote:

    46 Sid
    The BBC and their establishment masters would never permit it.

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  • 48. At 9:50pm on 24 Oct 2009, Real_Socialist wrote:

    I wonder if it's time to set up a 'Wally's Thread' for the exclusive use of those who'd rather turn a blind eye to capitalism making millions of peoples' lives a misery just so they can carry on competing in an artificial jungle for as much money as they can lay their grubby hands on?

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  • 49. At 10:58pm on 24 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    Real_Socialist (45) - If you have a strategy/policy/message that the public would find convincing, you shouldn't need the BBC to promote it. You should start locally with your viewpoint, just like all other Parties, and work yourself up to national coverage. What makes you think that the BBC should give airtime to a view that very few people profess?

    I suspect that your fundamental problem is that you have a message that very few people are interested in.

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  • 50. At 10:25am on 25 Oct 2009, Real_Socialist wrote:

    Quote: "What makes you think that the BBC should give airtime to a view that very few people profess?"

    All we ask for is a fair chance to become more than a "very few people".

    Quote: "I suspect that your fundamental problem is that you have a message that very few people are interested in."

    Perhaps you're right. But we'd like the opportunity to find out.

    As an anti-capitalist anti-profit anti-money party, we obviously don't expect to get large donations from multi-millionaires or billionaires, as the Lib-Lab-Con parties do because the donors expect (and often get) something in return. So we don't have the funds to get our message across in costly newspaper adverts etc. And the mainstream parties have, unsurprisingly, rigged the system so only they can claim millions of pounds from taxpayers to cover their running costs.

    Having a good viable alternative to capitalism counts for nothing if we can't make people aware that this option exists.

    Most people have no idea that Socialism has never yet existed. Most people think Socialism is about nationalisation, increasing trade unions' power, more taxation of the rich etc, when it's got nothing to do with these. Most people have no idea that what Marx advocated was a moneyless society where people would have free access to whatever they need. And the main reason most people are completely unaware of such things is because socialism - or ‘real’ socialism - is kept off the airwaves, kept out of the newspapers, kept off of school curricula etc. Maintaining the status quo requires people only having the ‘choice’ between the Tories, Labour or Lib Dems, which means no matter who wins, nothing changes at all.

    There is another way, but without some access to the airwaves, making that fact known is considerably harder.

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  • 51. At 12:32pm on 25 Oct 2009, Serangoon wrote:

    Could we please have an edition of Question Time in which Jack Straw spends the entire hour being jeered at by the audience as the other panel members pick him to pieces? Failing that would Baroness Warsi volunteer to return so she can be quizzed in depth for sixty minutes about her views on homosexuality and why she believes there is no such thing as a bogus asylum seeker? In order to recreate the atmosphere of the latest edition of Q.T the studio audience should be instructed to ask provocative questions and a frenzied mob should be attempting to break in to the studio to lynch them. What have te BBC got to lose? It certainly wouldn't be viewing figures.

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  • 52. At 1:10pm on 25 Oct 2009, lucien desgai wrote:

    51 Serangoon
    An asylum seeker cannot be bogus because it is a simple matter of fact that she/he is seeking asylum status - no decision yet taken on the veracity of the claim. Once a decision is made in either direction that person ceases to be an asylum seeker; at no time has the claimant's status been bogus.
    I think you meant to attribute that view to Bonnie Greer, not Sayeeda Warsi.

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  • 53. At 1:53pm on 25 Oct 2009, lucien desgai wrote:

    50 real_socialist
    I suspect that your problem has more to do with an electoral system which forces the formation of overly large alliances (libdem, lab, con) - BBC political coverage is just a function of that.
    Nevertheless, politics is always about compromise and the building of alliances and the socialist party's apparent inability to recognise this may be the source of its difficulty.
    If you adopt a rigid doctrine (to the point of fetishising its author) with which no compromise can be made then maybe you'll find yourselves unable to interact with wider society. But the cause of that ostracisation may well be your unwillingness to interact on any terms other than your own.
    If you adhere to a strict ideology how can you possibly engage in any process of discussion? You cannot want an honest exchange of views, to consider the opinions of others and you can have no interest in building a consensus. Your intent can only be to prove that your are right and the other party is wrong in all matters, in all circumstances, at all times. Anything else can only be a betrayal of Marx, a deviation from the purity of 'real' socialism.

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  • 54. At 2:53pm on 25 Oct 2009, Real_Socialist wrote:

    Quote: "If you adhere to a strict ideology how can you possibly engage in any process of discussion?"

    The Socialist Party (of Great Britain) 'only' strictly adheres to advocating that real socialism replace capitalism. There can be no compromise on this, since any else would be to be support or kowtow to capitalism.

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  • 55. At 5:15pm on 25 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

    As Lucien says, you cannot want an honest exchange of views.

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  • 56. At 11:17am on 26 Oct 2009, Real_Socialist wrote:

    Not so, Sid. We pay attention to what those both inside and outside of our party have to say, and we take on board anything that is clearly correct. But as socialists, we want socialism. We don't want destructive exploitative capitalism, be it the right-wing or left-wing version, or something in between. You can't expect us to compromise on that. If you do, then you're the one refusing to listen to the facts and evidence.

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  • 57. At 3:16pm on 26 Oct 2009, mittfh wrote:

    It's widely known the BNP are (to put it mildly) a xenophobic party, who are also associated with racist and homophobic policies.

    However, whilst a fairly insignificant minority before the European elections, during those elections they managed to pick up ~1m votes (that's about 1.6% of the UK population, but if you bear in mind turnout wasn't 100%, it probably works out at a much larger vote share) and 2 MEPs.

    If any other party had come out of nowhere to gain ~1m votes and 2 MEPs, I doubt there would be any controversy over allowing them to air their views on TV.

    As the audience set the questions, and knew the identity of the panelists beforehand, it isn't surprising the majority of the questions were aimed at Nick Griffin and the BNP.

    It's also not surprising the party's website had an surge in popularity following the debate - I'd imagine many of the extra visitors were looking at the party's manifesto etc. and finding out for themselves what the party claims its policies are.

    However, the best way to expose the xenophobic views of this particular party isn't a quick-fire Q&A, where emotions can quickly get heated and boil over, but a 'traditional' debate, whereby each side is given time to explain their viewpoint on an issue, before the cross-examination begins.

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  • 58. At 4:55pm on 26 Oct 2009, unclesocial wrote:

    I watched QT the other night. I was particularly interested as none of the panelists appeared to want to discusse issues of the week and wanted to concentrate all their fire power on NG. I was particularly disappointed in Dimbleby in the chair. He selects the questions for discussion doesn't he, so he could have set a proper agenda. I've never seen such venom from the audience either since the QT after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. I remember then the american ambassador being reduced to tears because of criticisms of their foreign policy.

    Jack Straw'a appearance was lamentable. Here was a man armed to the teeth with criticisms of NG and his past, yet he could not answer a simple question about whether governmenr policy on immigration was responsible for the rise in popularity of the BNP. Watching him flailing about for an answer was the performance of the night. I'm not surprised he wants to complain. I'm not suggesting in any way that I support the policies of the BNP, but to see a programme such as QT be conducted with such a level of unfairness, and to do nothing to stop the sustained attack on one panel member, flies in the face of the BBC code of ethics. David Dimbleby has a lot take a lot of responsibility for this failure of standards, and that is the most disappoining aspect of the issue for me.

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  • 59. At 5:59pm on 26 Oct 2009, lucien desgai wrote:

    56 real_socialist
    What is absolutely correct in politics, fact and evidence driven?
    In an earlier post you said that under the existing polity 'nothing changes at all.'

    Look at Britain a century ago ... no social security, NHS, employment rights, female suffrage, legal protection for minorities etc. etc.
    Fantastic changes were brought about over the succeeding 100 years by the struggles of ordinary people and their participation in the political system. Yes there's far more to be done, the capitalist system is immoral and perpetuates poverty and injustice ... but you say 'nothing changes at all'?

    That's one example of how your analysis is not correct not incorrect, neither fact nor fiction; the evidence can draw different people to different conclusions.
    Your and your party have opinions like everyone else - opinions which you have elevated to dogma with Marx as your deity and the Communist Manifesto as your scripture. As any scientist would tell you ... you can't evaluate evidence without maintaining an open mind.

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  • 60. At 7:45pm on 26 Oct 2009, ingeniousCliff wrote:

    58 Percyrind....Spot on.
    But why has Dimbleby not said sorry? Bonnie Grear to her credit has admitted she got it wrong. EGOS wanted to impress and they forgot the bigger picture.Give NG another chance, this time do NOT hand a victory to him on a plate. Jack Straw is over now, get D Milliband on with Widdicomb, Robert Mugabe and George Galloway, and chaired by Paxman.

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  • 61. At 8:55pm on 26 Oct 2009, Gillianian wrote:

    ingeniousCliff (60) Do you have a reference for your comment that Bonnie Greer ''has admitted she got it wrong''?
    The only reference I can find that includes both her name and the word "wrong" is a newspaper article where she has written that it would be wrong to deny airtime to NG and his ilk.

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  • 62. At 00:51am on 27 Oct 2009, Real_Socialist wrote:

    59 lucien_desgai

    The “nothing changes” refers to exploitative and damaging capitalism continuing just the same no matter which of the Lib-Lab-Con parties wins an election, and numerous problems continuing for numerous people, just as always happens under capitalism.

    You refer to social security and NHS as achievements of capitalism, yet without them, the health of workers, and the unemployed who may be needed by employers at some later stage, would be far worse. An unhealthy workforce produces unhealthy profits, so providing the NHS and a minimum amount in welfare to keep people fit and healthy was actually introduced primarily for the benefit of the capitalist class.

    And as has happened so often previously under capitalism, small gains made by the working class during good times get cut back and withdrawn during bad times. Outdated capitalism is heading for decades of economic stagnation, so all manner of attacks on the working class are going to come about as a consequence.

    And Marx is not our “diety” just because we agree with much of what he said and wrote. The Socialist Party of GB has been influenced and shaped by all manner of people past and present, for over a century. The idea of a society without oppression dates back before there was even a working class. During the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, John Ball is recorded as saying, from an open air platform, "My friends, things cannot go well in England, not ever, until everything shall be held in common, where there shall be neither vassal nor lord and all distinctions levelled, when lords shall be no more masters than ourselves." The SPGB are just continuing this quest for genuine socialism, which has been going on long before it ever came to be known as “socialism”.

    As for you stating “you can't evaluate evidence without maintaining an open mind”, it is precisely because real socialists are open-minded that we can clearly see and assess the evidence of capitalism’s destructiveness, and so advocate its replacement with moneyless real socialism. I can list hundreds of problems which will be solved and ended by the establishment of real socialism. Problems which are rooted in capitalism.

    I’m fairly new around here, so I don’t know what sort of economy you’re keen on. Obviously, it’s some flavour of capitalism. But the “evidence” is that millions of people in Britain are heading for a lot of unpleasantness if capitalism continues. Presumably, your “opinion” is that people must put up with this?

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  • 63. At 08:46am on 27 Oct 2009, lucien desgai wrote:


    Ordinary working people struggled for hundreds of years to achieve welfare and employment rights in this country. Capital fought them at every stage - everything was hard-fought and hard-won. There are reactionary forces which seek to reverse the progress but that is why ordinary people should continue to engage and find not stand on the sideslines espousing pseudo-religions dogma.

    You can't a list of problems which will definitely be solved by real socialsm. Maybe some will be, maybe some won't be but - as you say yourself - real socialism hasn't ever existed so you have no empirical evidence either way. If you close yourself to arguments which don't conform to your dogma then you really don't have an open mind.

    One other thing ... what was Marx wrong about?

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  • 64. At 09:49am on 27 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:


    When Real_Socialism comes to pass, who will run the railways?

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  • 65. At 10:23am on 27 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    IngeniousCliff (60) & percyrind (58) - You both obviously watched a different programme to me.

    Nick Griffen got his big chance on Question Time and he blew it. The questions put to the panel were on subjects that Griffen had previously shared his opinions on, sometimes at great length. His problem on QT was that not only could he not articulate his views on a couple of subjects, he also couldn't explain why he held whatever views he had. When challenged he became bumbling and muddled and substituted smirking, clapping and false laughter for any coherent argument. He was quite correctly challenged by David Dimbleby and the other panellists.

    And following the programme, like some little schoolboy bully who has been chastised by the bigger boys, he snivelled that he had been the victim of the bullying. Really pathetic.

    I'm glad to say that he is just the sort of leader that the BNP deserve.

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  • 66. At 10:41am on 27 Oct 2009, mittfh wrote:

    I've just spotted this interesting article on the New Statesman website.
    Remember all those newspaper articles denouncing the BBC for showing Nick Griffin, cursing his views on immigration and Islam? Look at some previous front page articles in certain papers and you might detect a sense of hypocrisy...


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  • 67. At 10:49am on 27 Oct 2009, ingeniousCliff wrote:

    65 Preston..
    Exactly what I mean ,your anger (understandable)...clouds your vision in my opinion. So much has been written and said about how Dimbleby and the panel got it wrong in that by out of control bullying and attempts to selfishly point score (Look at me I am such a great anti fascist), they made him look like a bullied victim.
    It does not matter if you do not 'want' to believe it, it has been shown in opinion polls. They have remained silent apart from Bonnie Grear and the wisdom seems to be that it would have been better to let him hang himself by reasoned arguement not by shouting at him like a mob. Keep dignified and trust the audience to decide. Lesson learnt I think (hope).

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  • 68. At 10:56am on 27 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

    PF - spot on!

    mittfh - great stuff!

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  • 69. At 11:08am on 27 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    ingeniousCliff (67) - Sorry to disabuse you, but I'm not, and wasn't, angry at all. I was smiling all the way through, and still am.

    I watched the programme in disbelief as Nick Griffen made a right numpty of himself. The BNP had strived for representation on this sort of programme for ages and when the opportunity came, Nick Griffen made a right pig's ear of it.

    'Poor little BNP leader bullied by the panel and crowd!' I don't think so. More like 'BNP leader loses the plot when questioned on policies.'

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  • 70. At 12:19pm on 27 Oct 2009, ingeniousCliff wrote:

    I wish it had been the same as your fantasy in your last two lines. But just wanting it to be that way does not reshape reality. But, maybe it's just 'my' fantasy that he came across as bullied? No,look at surveys and opinion polls following the programme. See The Times on saturday to see how many articles felt QT was a failure because of this. I bet next time EGOs will be reigned in.

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  • 71. At 12:31pm on 27 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    ingeniousCliff (70) - Sorry, I might have to lie down shortly - it's the shock, don't you know?

    Are you telling me that there were articles, in The Times of all places, that were critical of QT and the BBC? Blimey. Wait till Rupert Murdoch hears about that - he'll be livid.

    But as you are partial to articles in The Times here's one that you might appreciate. Seems that quite a few BNP supporters agree with me. Now, that is worrying.

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  • 72. At 12:29pm on 28 Oct 2009, Real_Socialist wrote:

    63. At 08:46am on 27 Oct 2009, lucien_desgai wrote: "There are reactionary forces which seek to reverse the progress but that is why ordinary people should continue to engage and find not stand on the sideslines ..."

    This is just an argument for people to keep fighting capitalism while think of nothing else. An endless struggle, in which the majority will always be on the defensive, rarely able to force the capitalist minority to give them a fairer share of the profits. We need another system where we don't have to keep fighting a never-ending never-winnable battle.

    You say I can't give a "list of problems which will definitely be solved by real socialism". Yes I can.

    First there are the obvious ones. An end to exploitative work (since there'll be no minority exploiting class in charge). No more inequality. With global real socialism there'll be an end to wars (since natural resources, trade routes, competition for profits etc are the cause the these). No more burglaries, muggings and other property crimes (since there'll be no reason to steal in a free-access society). No more BSE-type scandals caused by greed for profit. No more cost-cutting shoddy work to the rail network causing train derailments. No more poverty in old age. No more vast inefficiency and waste associated with capitalism where food, wine etc get deliberately destroyed to artificially keep prices up. No more racism. No more boom and busts. No more people calling at your front door and on the telephone trying to sell you something. No more spam and junk mail also trying to get you to buy. No more endless searching for the best prices of household products, utility services etc made as hard as possible so you give up. No more GM companies seeking control of food production. No more nauseating lying sleazy lookalike politicians in charge. No more corporate patenting of plant, animal and human genes. No more weapons of mass destruction wanted to threaten rival capitalists. No more young girls and boys forced into prostitution. No more state spying on and control of populations… The list of problems that real socialism will solve goes on and on.

    Re "One other thing ... what was Marx wrong about?".

    He (and Engels) were obviously wrong in their prediction as to when capitalism would end.

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  • 73. At 12:34pm on 28 Oct 2009, Real_Socialist wrote:

    64. At 09:49am on 27 Oct 2009, Sid wrote: "When Real_Socialism comes to pass, who will run the railways?"

    The same sort of people as today. There just won't be anyone making as much money as possible from the work of the various drivers, maintenance workers, administrative workers etc.

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  • 74. At 3:04pm on 28 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

    Real_Socialist @ 72

    This is a good example of the confusion that surrounds any talk of socialism. EtE (Mac in one of his various guises) insists that we had socialism in this country from 1939-1950 (though he doesn't really explain why). You say that socialism means no war. You can't both be right, can you?

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  • 75. At 3:16pm on 28 Oct 2009, Gillianian wrote:

    Real_Socialist(73) So will we all live in identical houses, all travel by public transport, wear identical clothing, eat the same food, drink the same wine, have no personal property at all, have to forego any kind of personal choice.....?

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  • 76. At 3:21pm on 28 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    And - Re "One other thing ... what was Marx wrong about?".

    Well, didn't he say "That's in every contract, that's what you call a sanity clause"?

    But we all know there ain't no sanity clause!

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  • 77. At 4:33pm on 28 Oct 2009, ingeniousCliff wrote:

    PF 71:
    It's not the BNP supporters we need to worry about. It's the 'frightened to speak about things aloud' potential recruits who think he's got a point. Although I do not think opinion polls tell us much about the extent of the impact, we will have to wait. It may well all come to nothing, lets hope so.Once Dimbleby is replaced on QT, alot of us will begin to enjoy it gain.

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  • 78. At 4:55pm on 28 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    I'd like David Dimbleby replaced as well but not because of anything on the last QT. Dimbleby treated Griffin exactly the same way as he has treated other panellists in the past. In fact he was as direct with Jack Straw on the programme as he was with Griffin.

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  • 79. At 8:45pm on 28 Oct 2009, lucien desgai wrote:

    72 Real_Socialist

    It's no answer to my question 'What was Marx wrong about?' that he projected the timelines incorrectly'. I thought it was obvious that I was referring to his philosophy, perhaps you could answer the question 'what did Marx get wrong in his political philosophy?' I doubt that's a question you can answer.

    You have stated on this thread that ...
    1 'Real socialism' is incontrovertibly correct
    2 'Real socialism' has never existed
    3 'Real socialsim' is evidence based
    If your philosophy has no empirical basis (it can't have, you say it's never been applied) then claiming it to be unquestionably correct is nothing but arrogance and hubris.

    I agree with many of the points on your list but that is my opinion. If it hasn't existed it hasn't been tested, there is no evidence ... it can't be claimed as 'correct' beyond discussion. That is why I suspect your belief system is far closer to religion than to political philosophy.

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  • 80. At 9:13pm on 28 Oct 2009, ingeniousCliff wrote:

    Well, thats another issue. So far Babs Windsor has said 'no' to chairing QT. Maybe Tony Blair will be free.

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  • 81. At 9:41pm on 28 Oct 2009, Real_Socialist wrote:

    74. At 3:04pm on 28 Oct 2009, Sid wrote: "This is a good example of the confusion that surrounds any talk of socialism. EtE (Mac in one of his various guises) insists that we had socialism in this country from 1939-1950 (though he doesn't really explain why). You say that socialism means no war. You can't both be right, can you?"

    No we can't. I'm right. Real socialism, of the kind Marx envisaged (not what was done in his name by various ruthless leaders), has never yet existed. When real socialism is voted for to replace capitalism, we will all collectively and directly own and control the means of production and distribution. When we all own the factories, power stations etc we will all own everything that is produced and provided, meaning money will then be redundant and there will be free access to all goods and services according to self-defined needs.

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  • 82. At 9:49pm on 28 Oct 2009, Real_Socialist wrote:

    75. At 3:16pm on 28 Oct 2009, Gillianian wrote: "So will we all live in identical houses, all travel by public transport, wear identical clothing, eat the same food, drink the same wine, have no personal property at all, have to forego any kind of personal choice.....?

    Housing will not be identical. New build will be designed to meet peoples' varying needs. Democratic real socialism is about ending inequality — not about ending diversity. There will be personal property. Things you need and take from the communal pot become yours. No one else will have a right to take things from your home (not that they'd want to anyway when they'll be freely available elsewhere). There will no doubt be plenty of choice with regards to food, wine etc because that's what people will want and need, and so long as they're also prepared to collectively work to provide this variety (and why wouldn't they?), then it will be available.

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  • 83. At 9:53pm on 28 Oct 2009, Real_Socialist wrote:

    79. At 8:45pm on 28 Oct 2009, lucien_desgai wrote: "perhaps you could answer the question 'what did Marx get wrong in his political philosophy?"

    I don't claim to be an expert on Marx (others in the party are), and I certainly don't view him as some sort of messiah. I can't recall reading any serious errors of a political philosophical kind, so if you have something in mind, let me know. I'm only interested in what he got right and what's relevant — his analysis of how capitalism functions, why it came about, it's detrimental effects on the majority, how moneyless real socialism differs from capitalism etc.

    You say "If your philosophy has no empirical basis (it can't have, you say it's never been applied) then claiming it to be unquestionably correct is nothing but arrogance and hubris."

    I don't claim that it will work perfectly right from the outset. There will no doubt be some teething problems and it will take a while to bed down (to be expected giving the revolutionary economic change). But there is nothing wrong with the premise. Really, in a nutshell, it's just people working for themselves rather than working primarily for the benefit of capitalists. People don't need to be led by anyone or any minority.

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