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Question Time and the BNP

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Ric Bailey | 09:18 UK time, Monday, 7 September 2009

The news that Question Time is likely to invite the BNP's Nick Griffin to be a panellist at some stage has set off a keen debate in the newspapers and among politicians. Of course, Mr Griffin has been on many other BBC programmes, including the Andrew Marr Show during the summer - so why is an appearance on Question Time front-page news?

Nick GriffinIt's true there is something different. For a start, panellists, whether they are party politicians or not, are being given a platform to share their views with the audience on a broad range of subjects. That's not quite the same as, say, an interview on Today or Newsnight, where an interviewer pursues a particular line of questioning, usually on a specific issue.

But that is not to say that politicians, when they appear on Question Time, or other debating programmes such as Any Questions on Radio 4, are not being subjected to the tough level of scrutiny which is central to BBC journalism. Ask any cabinet minister - a Conservative in the mid-90s, one from Labour more recently - and they'll tell you that it's often there, with an engaged and passionate audience, where you find out just how well thought through are your policies and views.

Sitting on a panel is also different because it usually involves more interaction with other politicians - and this is where the newspaper stories are particularly interesting. It's said that Labour is reviewing its stance of not sharing a platform with the BNP. All the other parties are having to come to terms with the fact that the BNP won two seats in the recent European election, giving them representation at a national level for the first time.

For the BBC, it's quite straightforward. "Due impartiality" means we have to take account of the political context when we're making editorial judgements, day in day out. There isn't one single formula which applies in all circumstances. So how do we decide what are appropriate levels of airtime for the different political parties? Our starting point for that judgement - though not the only factor - is how real people vote in real elections.

Measuring impartiality is less about mathematics and more about good judgement - but let's just look at the maths for a moment. In the recent European election, the BNP won more than 6% of the vote across Britain - approaching a million people. In some regions it was close to 10%. Like the Greens, they now have two MEPs - far fewer than UKIP - but they also have over 50 local councillors - fewer than the Greens, many more than UKIP.

Ever since UKIP and the Greens won representation at a national level, they have appeared from time to time on Question Time. Inviting the BNP onto the panel would be a continuation of the approach which recognises that the level of electoral support is a relevant factor in making these judgements.

The BBC could not apply different standards to different parties because of their particular policies. That would be a breach of our charter, challengeable in the courts.

But it's not fear of the lawyers or lobbying from the BNP themselves which would prompt an invitation to Nick Griffin. Impartiality is at the core of the BBC's journalism and this is a normal part of the process of constantly asking ourselves how we should be defining that impartiality in a changing political environment.

Ric Bailey is the BBC's chief political adviser and was executive editor of Question Time from 2000 to 2006.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I don't think the BNP should appear on Question Time, because this mamby pamby middle class rubbish program shouldn't get the oxygen of publicity.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think the BNP should appear on Question Time. It would give a chance for those that voted for them to see exactly what they are about, and hopefully put of anyone who thought voting for them was a good idea.

  • Comment number 3.

    Attempting to exclude any political group (the ‘ignore and hope they’ll go away’ approach), be it Sinn Fein or the BNP, clearly does not work.

    If the Conservatives, Lib Dems, Labour, UKIP and Greens etc want to attract voters away from the BNP then they have to engage with them and present arguments - and there are many - as to why the electorate shouldn’t support them.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    This poisonous ideology costs thousands of UK lives tryign to fight it off in two world wars, if we accept it now it could lead to a thrid, but this time it will be a UK civil war!

  • Comment number 6.

    Im British and i have this extremist group against me, what do i do when the government accepts them, where are my british rights?

  • Comment number 7.

    It's only right they should. Freedom of speech applies to everyione, no matter how repellent and moronic their views are!

  • Comment number 8.

    Why did the BBC exclude from its news coverage the terrible rioting that happened in Birmingham over the weekend? Surely this deserved reporting - why the censorship.....very sinister.

  • Comment number 9.

    We believe in freedom of speech for those we revile or we do not believe in it at all.

    And of course once we have a light on their ridiculous ideas, we can humiliate them on prime time television. Sounds good. ^^

  • Comment number 10.

    Give them enough rope to hang themselves I say. While it maybe seen as giving them a platform its the perfect opportunity for their odious views to be pulled apart on national televison.

  • Comment number 11.

    By all means get the BNP on question time.

    Anyone who ahd ever been on the BNPs website knows that the first response of both the leadership and the members to criticism is to resort to name calling.

    I've never seen them talk about an opposition organisation or party without resorting to langauage such as'lefty', 'communist', 'secretly working for the labour party' etc, in fact its rare to read one of their articles without coming accross such phrases.

    I wonder if Mr Griffin will stoop to the same level on television in front of an audience of millions?

    (by the way BBC, you yourselves are regularly desribed and allegations levelled against you on the BNPs website in terms that i would consider libellous, but i suppose you don't want the publicity of doing anything about it.)

  • Comment number 12.

    I detest what they say, but they do have a right to say it, as has been given to them by the voting public.

    Put them on the show, let them air their views and then let the audience react accordingly just as with any other.

    Frankly I think that giving them the platform and allowing normal people the chance to respond will do far more harm than good for the BNP. A lot of their supporters know nothing of their policies other than the "White British come first" dogma, it is easy to get behind a slogan because you can plead ignorance, if policies and their meanings are explained in detail then there is no excuse anymore and in this case education could well be a bad things for the BNP and a good thing for the rest of us.

  • Comment number 13.

    Anyone who has watched 'Question Time' knows how left-biased the program is. The BBC may be 'impartial' but it certainly isn't a 'balanced or neutral-view' broadcaster.

    If Mr Griffin were to appear on QT, the audience would be a sea of left-wing students most of whom would be UAF members, with leftie producers prompting 'booing and hissing' for every syllable he utters. Sickening.

    I hate having to pay a licence fee to support it.


  • Comment number 14.


    For all we might find the policies of one or more political parties to be unappealing it is vital, in the interests of democracy, that any party large enough and popular enough to be attracting support from large sections of the population is represented in political discussions.

    It's worth remembering that Adolf Hitler initially came to power through a democratic electoral process. If the population appear to be voting for extreme parties it would be more productive to investigate the reasons behind this rather than simply trying to legislate the issue away.

    If we start banning and excluding parties simply because we disagree with what they stand for, where do we stop? Will we end up in a situation where the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties are excluded because they oppose the democratically elected government?

  • Comment number 15.

    It raises certain issues about freedom of speech, my worry would be that Mr Grifin may make certain statements about specific groupsn who are not represented on the panel, giving them, effectively no right of reply.

    It'll certainly be intresting.

    By the way Mr Editor as mentioned in one of the comments on the HYS main strand, you'll be lucky not to be deluged by comments from BNP supporters being directed from their website by the end of the day.

  • Comment number 16.

    Any political party should have the right to talk about what they believe in. It is up to the other parties to sensibly debate each subject, something that our modern politicians seem to have forgotten how to do.
    A good politician should be able to convey their beliefs, also their problems with other beliefs, in an orderly way without the need for abuse.
    The most scary thing I see in politics today is groups of people denying the rights to freedom of speech.
    Personally I prefer to hear all sides of any argument, only then can I make a balanced decision.

  • Comment number 17.

    It is really nobody's business in a so called civilised society to go around dictating what the BNP should or shouldn't be allowed to do. Believe it or not there are laws in this country that ALL political parties must abide by. Judging from recent performances our three main parties wouldn't survive trading standards let alone laws of honesty and integrity.

    Whatever our personal views about the BNP it is appropriate for our National broadcaster to open its doors to all, regardless of whether they conform to PC or not. We should welcome free speech and opinion and not shy away from having to justify our stance against politicians we do not like. Who knows having the BNP on Question Time may actually kick start British politics again and bring much needed passion and polemic back.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi Ric

    An interesting conversation, and thank you for outlining the thoughts that the editorial team at the beeb are going through, but i take issue with one point. You have completely ignored that Nick Griffin on SQT will be a huge driver for viewing figures. I find it slightly annoying that you haven't so much as alluded to this when, either consciously or subconsciously, it is _definately_ a part of your decisions making process. I think if your going to come across as honest and open about the process, at least be honest.

  • Comment number 19.

    Unfortunately the BNP must be allowed to engage in debate in this forum. To do otherwise would risk allowing them a propaganda coup that would be out of all proportion to the benefits of preventing them from attempting to corrupt the British culture with their views.

    Freedom of Speech is one of the most fundamental human rights we have as a democracy. If we allow people to be "banned" from espousing their views, no matter how much we may individually disagree with them, then we open the doors to ever more restrictions on our personal freedoms. Governments that restrict what people can or cannot say are generally called totalitarian. Whilst it may seem alarmist to state that a ban against this particular organisatioin will lead to a reduction in our individual freedoms, it is, nevertheless, a truism. What once was unthinkable becomes easier the next time.

    "I disagree completely with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" is a well worn phrase, but nevertheless it is an important principle. I disagree with the BNP and what they stand for, particularly their more extremist, and racist views. However, they must be allowed to express their point of view in open discussion, provided that they accept the normal constraints of polite debate. If their particular brand of bile and hatred shows them for the narrow minded, bigoted racists that the truly are, then so much the better.

    I am concerned that people have become less engaged with the political process in recent years, and I have fears that maybe the "soundbite" culture has become so highly ingrained that some people may not be as well equipped to recognise the underlying grubby subtext of the BNPs bile. However I still have faith in the ability of the British public to be able to recognise this odious party for what it truly is. If they cannot, then I would argue that there is no hope for our country anyway.

    We have already allowed many of our fundamental freedoms to be erroded over recent years. We have stumbled, almost with our eyes closed, into a number of changes in the name of "security" that have allowed increased state surveilance, and increased governmental interference in our private lives. We need to ensure that freedom of speech does not also become a casualty of our lack of interest in engaging with the current political process. We should instead be seeking to understand exactly why people are less engaged and work towards addressing the root cause of this lack of interest. If nothing else, at least this suggestion has generated a discussion that hints at re-engagement. However those small flames of re-engagement need to be carefully fanned to ensure that we do not continue to blindly stumble into further erosion of the rights that our ancestors fought so hard to win for us all.

  • Comment number 20.

    # 4. At 11:09am on 07 Sep 2009, MostonHead wrote:

    The BNP should not be on as they are not a legitimate organisation, any organisation which has links to Combat 18, KKK, National Front and the number of Ultra Nazi organisations in Eastern Europe, it would be silly to legitimise this especially after we fought two world wars to kill off the poisonous ideology!

    Complain about this comment
    # 5. At 11:10am on 07 Sep 2009, MostonHead wrote:

    This poisonous ideology costs thousands of UK lives tryign to fight it off in two world wars, if we accept it now it could lead to a thrid, but this time it will be a UK civil war!

    Complain about this comment
    # 6. At 11:23am on 07 Sep 2009, MostonHead wrote:

    Im British and i have this extremist group against me, what do i do when the government accepts them, where are my british rights?


    -----

    Not allowing a democratically elected party (around about 1million voted for them last time out) to have their voice is not how a democracy works.

    True we fought WW2 to remove Nazi ideology but it only arose because something was wrong with the country of Germany at the time and the other parties were not willing (or capable) to do anything about what was wrong with the country.

    I don't support the BNP with their methods and their hidden agendas but I found myself watching a political broadcast by Nick Griffin and I found myself agreeing with much of what he said in it, because I see much of what he says happening all around me. I am a single male and my prospects in life have been diminished in recent times, be that due to an influx of immigrants or just the way the country has been governed, it is a fact that the residents of the UK are having a tougher time of it than they should be.

    Doesn't mean I'll vote for his party though but in a democratic society giving them the chance to air their views and be voted for (or not) is the right and proper way of doing business.

    The BNP have as much right to a voice as the Muslim council of Britain does.

    Oh and your British rights would still be where they are now, in the hands of the dictatorial state that is the EU.

  • Comment number 21.

    I watched the BBC news this morning and was DISGUSTED by the views of the Labour Candidate. Why should ANY party be excluded from a political show just because other parties do not agree with their views? If she was speaking for the whole of the Labour Party then we are being governed by a party that does not believe in a Democracy! As much as I do not agree with the views or moral standings of the BNP they have been legally and democratically elected into parliament so therefore deserve the same opportunities as any other elected party candidate. It would be interesting to see them actually air their views and then defend them as the other parties politely and legally ripped them apart.

  • Comment number 22.

    #13

    Just a tiny-weeny bit paranoid, mmm? Just because people will undoubtably disagree with a lot of what Griffin has to say it doesn't make it part of a 'leftie' conspiracy.

    Maybe you should've read comment 11.

  • Comment number 23.

    I just hope someone asks them how they plan to deal with the economy. That's gonna be a laugh.

  • Comment number 24.

    The BBC has frequently invited members of the Orange Order to appear on QT panels. Wiki this organisation and you will find that it excludes Catholics from membership and expels members that attend Catholic services like weddings or funerals ie an Orange Order MP will be expelled if he attends a Catholic constituent's funeral.
    Of course the BBC also invites Sinn Fein but at least they have renounced violence and indeed strongly condemn violence now. No such reformation of the Orange Order.

  • Comment number 25.

    If you want to call this a 'democracy' then even people you don't agree with have to be allowed to speak.

    (Personally I find the Green Party offensive, but I know you can't ban them from question time)

    Will there be any policy on what the BNP representative can say?

    A particular issue I would raise is that when they get on local BBC TV they appear indifferent about debating the issue put to them on air, but very keen on REPEATEDLY stating the BNP website URL.

    I guess that they have given up trying to get their message across on a hostile media, and are concentrating on the internet as an open access means of communication.

    Will they be allowed to advertise their website on 'question time' ?

  • Comment number 26.

    The BNP have gained seats and support in various areas because we have actively kept them off air and shielded them from the examination that the other parties are subject to by press and and forums such as question time. If they had been forced to debate and articulate their solutions for a variety of issues then folks would quickly see that they were seriously lacking and would not be a viable administration.

    They have some claim to leigitimacy as they do have seats in the European Parliament and, as unpleaseant as it may be, we need to respect the democratic process and let them into the game.

  • Comment number 27.

    It will be interesting to see if the Pirate party are allowed on Question Time or any other similar platform, as I'm sure the establishment will be very against their views also.

  • Comment number 28.

    Whilst I hate the idea of a racist party getting air time -we have to accept the freedom of speech- the cornerstone of the values that we hold as citizens of this country. By allowing the BNP to air their views will also allow the public to see at first hand the exact nature of the views that they hold.
    The only reason that they managed to win seats as MEP’s was a direct result of the current government’s inept way in dealing with the current financial turmoil and the fiasco regarding expenses.
    The other two political parties have also shown no leadership or solutions. The natural thing to do is blame everything on immigration and sell this to the disgruntled voters! if you sling enough mud some will stick as in this case.

  • Comment number 29.

    #22.thornton_reed...

    It came as no supprise that you had to left-comment on my right-comment. The funny thing is that, after reading your comment at #10, I was waiting for it. Good old paranoia, there must be some truth to it....

  • Comment number 30.

    The the other "main political partys" have, thus far, done their uttermost to prevent Nick Griffin and the BNP from presenting their agenda to the electorate. They have a point of view. One that many of the electorate share.
    Now the question is: Who's the real enemy of democracy and racial equality? The people who openly advocate a point of view, or the people who say that you may not express that view?

  • Comment number 31.

    The right to free speech does not encompass the right to slander, libel or incitement to commit any crime. Given those boundaries, I don't see why they (BNP) shouldn't be on QT.
    My only qualm is that given the "quality" of what passes for reasoned debate these days, the BNP will be demolished in debating terms yet walk away with the "popular vote". When an argument has been proved to be devoid of logic & reason and is riddled with fallacy it should "slink" away with tail between legs. Unfortunately, I suspect many of todays audience won't see anything wrong with it. We seem to love ideas that make no sense at all, but appeal to our primal (base) emotions.
    All the conditions that allowed Hitler's rise to power in the 1930's are being reproduced now

  • Comment number 32.

    To ravenmorpheus, are you saying you would accept the BNP's lip service to tell you what you want to hear and turn a blind eye to their hidden agendas?? thats the dangerus side to this Party. Isnt that what people are complaining about with Labour? BNP will be worse and they will not tell you their hidden agenda before its too late!

  • Comment number 33.

    Why ask this question. It smacks of persecution and Facism thrives on persecution. So sit back and think before protesting against a minority in the form of the duly elected members of the BNP.

  • Comment number 34.

    "4. At 11:09am on 07 Sep 2009, MostonHead wrote:

    The BNP should not be on as they are not a legitimate organisation..."

    They may be unpleasant, bigotted and present views that are contrary to your (and my) own, but they ARE a legitimate organisation who, like it or not, represent the views of at least a small minority of this country.

    Besides, I don't want to get to a stage where someone else is deciding what I can and can't hear. I'm old enough and ugly enough to decide for myself that someone's views are not something I will subscribe to nor want to hear any more. It's within my rights, if I feel so inclined, to change the channel when the BNP come on or, equally, to turn the volume up and have a good chuckle at the rubbish they spout.

    I'm in favour of the BNP appearing on TV. Firstly they are now an elected member of the European Parliament, and secondly it means those of us who are against fascism, racism and everything the BNP stands for can ridicule their views publicly and debate with them in a way that shows their narrow minded views up for what they are.

    It's when we try to repress organisations like the BNP that they become more dangerous. In the open we can expose them and hopefully turn people who voted for them on a misunderstanding away from them.

  • Comment number 35.

    #20 Ravenmorpheous "Oh and your British rights would still be where they are now, in the hands of the dictatorial state that is the EU."

    Well, that's lucky, because last I looked, our present government has managed to overturn pretty most of the Magna Carta, Common Law and the Tripartate sytem of Government that served us well for almost 700yrs, through 2 World Wars and a 40year Terror Campaign. It is the ECHR that now seems to be the custodian of what were formerly "British" rights long since removed by our own Government. We seem to have sleepwalked into the very state we fought against in 1939-45

  • Comment number 36.

    I have to say that Ol'Nick G needs to get himself a proper designer for his podiums. Upwards lighting always makes things more creepy. Or was he going for the novelty evildoer look? ^^

  • Comment number 37.

    I think the BNP should appear on Question Time. A spokesperson on 5Live this morning kept comparing them to Sinn Fein, have I missed something? when have the BNP been setting off bombs and killing our soldiers?
    An assembley in Wales was set up on a fraction of the number of votes that the BNP have. even allowing for the size of the electorate.
    They seem to be the only people that are prepared to talk about the worries of mass migration into our country. No-one seems to be able to say when enough is enough!
    Where I live we are not as yet seeing the face of our country changing, But where ever there is a group of people the topic of conversation turns to the subject.
    Finally,can someone explain to me why it is that all of the people that leave this country to live abroad are always referred to as British expats, but anyone arriving in this country from all over the world are British as soon as their feet touch the ground. (Just asking)...

  • Comment number 38.

    I am revolted by the BNP and its opinions. But if having the party's leader on "Question Time" is the price we pay for free speech, then I for one am willing to pay it.

  • Comment number 39.

    I am not a fan of the BNP but I would like to hear what they have to say. Remember the saying, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." If you know a thing you can help destroy a thing. The more we learn about the BNP the more we can fight it and bring it down. So let them speak out we are all ears.

  • Comment number 40.

    32. At 12:45pm on 07 Sep 2009, MostonHead wrote:

    To ravenmorpheus, are you saying you would accept the BNP's lip service to tell you what you want to hear and turn a blind eye to their hidden agendas?? thats the dangerus side to this Party. Isnt that what people are complaining about with Labour? BNP will be worse and they will not tell you their hidden agenda before its too late!

    ----

    Like I said I can identify with some of what the BNP are saying as I live in an area that has been affected and it may/or may not have directly affected my progression in life.

    It does not mean I agree with the BNP MO or that I would vote for them. And I always read between the lines to find the truth, no matter what party I am listening to.

    I would however in a democratic society, which is what the UK is supposed to be, allow them to have their say.

    If we go down the road of not allowing them to have their say, which is your view, we no longer operate as a democratic society.

  • Comment number 41.

    9. At 11:35am on 07 Sep 2009, Freeman wrote:
    We believe in freedom of speech for those we revile or we do not believe in it at all.

    And of course once we have a light on their ridiculous ideas, we can humiliate them on prime time television.

    ----------------------

    Couldn't have put it better myself, well said.

  • Comment number 42.

    Of course they should be allowed on QT. Stifling people's views doesn't make those views go away, it just makes them fester. If these guys have a valid point, it needs to be aired. If it's not valid, they'll be proved wrong and not say it again.

    To assume that some people will be hoodwinked by them is to assume that you know better. That is not democracy. Your opinion does not count more than mine.

    MostonHead's comment about being British and the object of the BNP's hatred almost made me change my mind but thinking about it, the issue is not banning them, it's watching out for inciting hatred. Then they must be held to account. Just the same as fundamentalists must be allowed to be heared, if they cause damage or incite hatred, that is what is wrong. Not having a different opinion.

    Moston - I'd be interested in your thoughts on that.

    When you suppress one voice, you condone the actions of the Juntas in Zimbabwe and Burma. It's only the scale of your behavior that differs. There is no grey line when it comes to freedom of speech. It's either free or it isn't.

  • Comment number 43.

    The BBC should not give a platform to fascists. The BNP want to be seen as a respectable party, they are not they are fascists. This is not about free speech or debate. Fascists seek to destroy what little democracy we have and rule through fear and violence. Debating them is pointless. Most of them are convicted criminals. That the BBC is using its remit of "impartiality" and its charter as excuses to invite Griffin is indefensible. Its shameful that the BBC, an institution steeped in bias against strikers, environmentalists, the anti-war movement and anyone on the left invokes the need for "impartiality' or some spurious balance to give a fascist the oxygen of publicity.

  • Comment number 44.

    The BNP should not appear on Question Time for the simple reason that they are a fascist political party. The BBC wasn't impartial about World War Two and rightly so. Fascism is incompatible with democracy and they should not be able to make themselves out to be a normal political party. All Griffin has to do is go one hour without saying anything totally moronic and he will be seen as legitimate. He isn't legitimate, he denies the holocaust and believes in an all-white Britain.

    Furthermore, the BBC also has a responsibility as a broadcaster to consider the full effects of what it is doing. Twice in the past two months, there have been near-riots in Birmingham because of the activities of the BNP-linked group, The English Defence League. A further event like this was only prevented in Luton when thousands of people appealed for the march to be stopped. At the BNP's Red, White and Blue festival in Derbyshire the BNP provoked protests of thousands of people because the fact of the matter is that they are a fascist party and fascism has nothing to do with democracy, even if Griffin has turned in his jackboots and white power T-shirt in exchange for a suit.

  • Comment number 45.

    Having enjoyed hearing Nick G shoot himself in the foot in several interviews (No black people in Britain before 1948? You've certainly been reading some very selective history books), I'm quite looking forward to seeing the BNP called out on the complete nonsense they talk.

    Though the BBC might be within their rights to deny them an appearance on Question Time since their status as a legitimate party has been called into question recently. Legitimate parties aren't allowed to discriminate against their members: the BNP have to allow non-white people into their party if they want in, or they're breaking EU law.

  • Comment number 46.

    "43. At 1:32pm on 07 Sep 2009, stopcensoringme wrote:

    The BBC should not give a platform to fascists. "

    Fascists or not they are a legitimate political party (in as much as they are no illegal) and for the BBC to not allow them to appear would be against its charter of impartiality. Like it or not that's a fact.

    And, for what it's worth, this IS about free speech. You can't on the one hand agree with freedom of speech and then on the other decide (arbitrarily) that certain groups can't have it because their views are either different to your own or undesirable. Either you support free speech or you do not, and if you do not doesn't that also make you a little bit fascist?

  • Comment number 47.

    what is the problem are they not tax paying english people and are they wrong to have their own opinions wether the majority thinks they are wrong or not shouldnt exclude them from open honest debate.
    even the labour party started as an extreem group but rose to power even if many think them still overly leaning towards the left.
    freedom to give your opinion weather right or wrong should be a fundimental right.

  • Comment number 48.

    #43 - stopcensoringme - !!!!

    Your name should remind you just who it is that has eroded the rights to which you refer. Not a the fascists to whom you refer but a stylised Government euphemistically called New Labour which continued good old fashioned anti-working class Tory dogma. A Government that is so busy introducing laws to "protect" equality that it doesn't actually test whether ANY of its protective laws actually work.

    The BBC, for a long time a puppet of this nasty state of affairs, now has a chance of thumbing its nose at the establishment and igniting the blue touch paper. Of course you are expecting a boom but you haven't gone anywhere near explaining why. Good on the BBC for at least trying to give balance to politics for a change.

  • Comment number 49.

    "A spokesperson on 5Live this morning kept comparing them to Sinn Fein, have I missed something? when have the BNP been setting off bombs and killing our soldiers?"

    ---------------------------------

    Well actually on several occasions BNP members have set off bombs (David Copeland, London nailbomber) or have been caught stockpiling bomb-making equipment (Robert Cottage, East Lancs) always they cite that they were preparing for some apparently impending race war. They are worse than Sinn Fein, Sinn Fein at least had an arguable cause that they wanted to unite Ireland, there methods were wrong but at least you can see where their ideals came from. In the case of the BNP they are violent and yet their only cause is to discriminate on the grounds of race, sex, sexuality, disability, etc.

    And people might go on about freedom of speech but I tell you what, I sure as hell would not have freedom of speech under a BNP government and neither would anyone who is of the political left, anyone who isn't white, anyone who is an active trade unionist, anyone who is gay and given Nick Eriksen's view that 'rape is no worse than forcefeeding a woman chocolate', even simply for being a woman would likely prevent your views being expressed. Make no mistake about it, this is like inviting Hitler, Mussolini or Franco onto Question Time.

  • Comment number 50.

    'Personally I find the Green Party offensive, but I know you can't ban them from question time'

    --------------------

    The Green Party are not going to remove anyone's citizenship rights and certainly not on the basis of skin colour. Neither is any other significant party, with the exception of the BNP. In what possible way are the Green Party remotely as offensive as the BNP?!

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    This country has had no great political leadership responsive to the wishes and concerns of the electororate for 60 yrs hence the growth of the BNP. Hidden agendas aside they speak for the fears of many too scared to express them publicly....PC.Equality, Egality, Discrimination. The list is endless." Legitimate" politicians need,quickly, to get a grip of where this country is going; speak unequivocal understandable English - without the need of a battalion of reporters and journalists neccessary to interpret what they might or might not mean. Otherwise we might all go down the pan and,indeed end up on the beaches again.Torswood

  • Comment number 53.

    "Now the question is: Who's the real enemy of democracy and racial equality? The people who openly advocate a point of view, or the people who say that you may not express that view?"

    ------------------------------------

    Well given that they believe in an all-white Britain, it is pretty clear that the BNP are the enemies of both racial equality and democracy. At least try and come out with a remotely sensible argument.

  • Comment number 54.

    "43. At 1:32pm on 07 Sep 2009, stopcensoringme wrote:

    The BBC should not give a platform to fascists. "

    Personally i'd rather they were out in the open, although from past exposes, what the BNP say in private & what they say in public are not always the same thing.

    To be fair at least Mr Griffen does seem to try to a keep a legitimate veneer on his party members, not always an easy task.

    By the way ,interestingly i was on the BNP website yeterday reading about how BNP members were now banned from associating with the Englisg Defence eague, so perhaps mr griffen is not as pro free speech as he might claimed.

    Interestingly among the hundreds of comments on the issue from BNP memberson the issue i didn't see one expressing support for the EDL, which given previous comments i've read on their site seems rather incredible.

    Surely BNP members aren't being censored by their own party on their own website?



  • Comment number 55.

    Isn't it about time we scrapped political parties and selected people on the basis of how well they can do the job, not which party they belong to, that way we wouldn't have all this trouble. Politics in this country causes more problems than it solves, so lets move into the 21st century and get rid of this outdated party system.

  • Comment number 56.

    53. At 1:52pm on 07 Sep 2009, BnSngltn wrote:

    "Now the question is: Who's the real enemy of democracy and racial equality? The people who openly advocate a point of view, or the people who say that you may not express that view?"

    ------------------------------------

    Well given that they believe in an all-white Britain, it is pretty clear that the BNP are the enemies of both racial equality and democracy. At least try and come out with a remotely sensible argument.


    -----

    Or he could not express his view and put forward a remotely sensible argument because you don't share his point of view...

    People here have said it, and I'll say it - free speech is free speech, not selective speech.

  • Comment number 57.

    Have you ever heard a speech by a US politician? The BNP is about equal with all Republicans and most Democrats. They are vile, poisonous, loathsome garbage, but they should be allowed to show themselves up on TV.
    Get someone even half-decent to debate with the BNP (Tony Benn, Will Self, George Galloway) and they will tear them to shreds.
    I'd also like to see an American politician on and get one of the above to debate Lockerbie with them.
    We have pandered to Americans for far too long in this country

  • Comment number 58.

    "Isn't it about time we scrapped political parties and selected people on the basis of how well they can do the job, not which party they belong to, that way we wouldn't have all this trouble. Politics in this country causes more problems than it solves, so lets move into the 21st century and get rid of this outdated party system."

    ----------------------------------

    Whilst this sounds very nice as an initial thought. The fact of the matter is that without political parties, only the rich would be able to run for public office.

  • Comment number 59.

    This matter would not have arisen if those who say they are governing us in the way we want them to, would only listen. Most of the new BNP votes are a means of shouting at our leadership (all parties) that there are things that they are not getting right. Immigration and border policy is included in this, but not solely. Don't castigate people for voting BNP ask yourself why they have been pushed in this direction

  • Comment number 60.

    #29

    Can't it just be a bipartisan-comment. ;)

  • Comment number 61.

    43. stopcensoringme wrote:
    "The BBC should not give a platform to fascists."

    Given your user name, you should perhaps think before you rant..... or is it just YOU who should not be censored?


  • Comment number 62.

    #49 BnSngltn wrote

    "Make no mistake about it, this is like inviting Hitler, Mussolini or Franco onto Question Time."

    Why? Is Mr Griffin dead?

  • Comment number 63.

    Distasteful as it is to give the BNP any platform, it is simply part of living in a land where free speech is possible. I despise their poliitcs, but would uphold their right to speak.

    That said I would like to see their representatives given the full Paxman treatment .... difficult questions about real issues, not just an opening for some sort of polemic. Let them speak, and make them reveal themselves for the foul racists and bigots they are.

    Also I would like the mainstream political parties to take a good look at their own policies and particularly their own behaviour and see what may be driving the increase in support for what were previously considered to be lunatic fringe elements.

    There are deeper issues at stake and sadly censoring the BNP won't stop them. It will make political martyrs of them, and with the internet their poisonous ideas are spreading fast. An hour of hard public debate (not self-righteous liberal posturing) may set back their cause, not advance it.

  • Comment number 64.

    56. At 2:00pm on 07 Sep 2009, ravenmorpheus wrote:
    53. At 1:52pm on 07 Sep 2009, BnSngltn wrote:

    "Now the question is: Who's the real enemy of democracy and racial equality? The people who openly advocate a point of view, or the people who say that you may not express that view?"

    ------------------------------------

    Well given that they believe in an all-white Britain, it is pretty clear that the BNP are the enemies of both racial equality and democracy. At least try and come out with a remotely sensible argument.


    -----

    Or he could not express his view and put forward a remotely sensible argument because you don't share his point of view...

    People here have said it, and I'll say it - free speech is free speech, not selective speech.

    ------------------

    Shouting fire in a crowded building doesn't come under the definition of free speech and rightly so. It endangers life and therefore the very democratic rights that you purport to defend. Fascism is incompatible with democracy because fascists believe that many should be denied basic democratic rights not just on the basis of their political views but also on the basis of their skin colour, sexuality, whether they are disabled, etc. To defend a fascist on the basis on free speech is an absurdity in itself. Nick Griffin doesn't believe in free speech and the BNP don't believe in free speech.

  • Comment number 65.

    We have lost so much persoanl freedom in recent times what with political correctness, ridiculous Health and Safety bureaucracy, etc., so I'd hate to see freedom of speech eroded even further.

    The BNP is a legitimate political party so I think it should be heard along with the other parties. Besides, other organisations trying to reshape British society to suit themselves are given a voice so silencing the BNP seems a bit draconian, at the very least skewed.

  • Comment number 66.

    #61

    Have to love the irony though.

  • Comment number 67.

    "62. At 2:21pm on 07 Sep 2009, fillandfrowpist wrote:
    #49 BnSngltn wrote

    "Make no mistake about it, this is like inviting Hitler, Mussolini or Franco onto Question Time."

    Why? Is Mr Griffin dead?"

    ---------------

    My, my, aren't you witty. No, Griffin isn't dead. Apparently common sense escaped you here, let me explain. Hitler, Mussolini and Franco are famous fascist leaders that I would hope most readers are familiar with and are unsurprisingly hated figures. Griffin's politics are no different to these leaders and therefore the idea of inviting him on is no less repulsive than inviting these leaders onto the show (hypothetically of course, since they are, as you point out, dead - if this is beyond you then similarly we might replace these leaders with Le Penn or Mussolini's grand-daughter for the sake of argument). Need I remind you that Hitler was at one stage a democratically elected member of the Reichstag - that does not legitimise his political views.

  • Comment number 68.

    Yes. We support free speech. So why has the HYS discussion on this topic been closed down?

  • Comment number 69.

    This is a great idea. I hope it goes ahead.

    It's rather sad to see how many people voted BNP at the euro elections. Presumably most of those voting BNP had no idea what their policies are. Put them on prime time TV, get them to explain their policies under some cross-questioning, and then more people will see how sad and ludicrous their policies are.

    That's how things should work in a democracy.

  • Comment number 70.

    64. At 2:31pm on 07 Sep 2009, BnSngltn wrote:

    houting fire in a crowded building doesn't come under the definition of free speech and rightly so. It endangers life and therefore the very democratic rights that you purport to defend. Fascism is incompatible with democracy because fascists believe that many should be denied basic democratic rights not just on the basis of their political views but also on the basis of their skin colour, sexuality, whether they are disabled, etc. To defend a fascist on the basis on free speech is an absurdity in itself. Nick Griffin doesn't believe in free speech and the BNP don't believe in free speech.


    -----

    Would you be of the same view if the BNP were a Muslim group?

    The "rules" of a democratic society apply to all, no matter what their point of view or political persuasion.

    No-one here is defending the BNP (fascists as you put it) but simply saying that as we are a democratic nation we should afford them the same rights everyone else is supposed to have.

    To do anything less makes us as bad as the fascists, does it not?

  • Comment number 71.

    BnSngltn wrote:

    To defend a fascist on the basis on free speech is an absurdity in itself. Nick Griffin doesn't believe in free speech and the BNP don't believe in free speech.

    -----

    to be fair facism is a much mis-used ,specific,political term, it doesn't really apply to the BNP, unless they've started talking about arbitrarily taking over the UKs means of production while i wasn't listening.

    As far as i can make out, what the BNP want is for 'ethnic britons' (they do have a system of describing 'ethnic britons' but it essentially means white & born in the UK)to receive preferential treatment over all other ethnicities.

    I believe the correct term for such a policy is 'apartheid'.

  • Comment number 72.

    At 2:40pm on 07 Sep 2009, Davidethics wrote:
    Yes. We support free speech. So why has the HYS discussion on this topic been closed down?

    -----------------

    I think they've honestly been having problems this morning, the BNP/questiontime, how clean are our beaches and recession strands all went awol around mid-day.

    or it may just be a conspiracy....

  • Comment number 73.

    You can't claim freedom of speech for all and then gag those that say things you don't like, that's not how it works.

    From what I've read, seen and heard, the man's less than a genius, so, give him some rope, sooner or later he'll hang himself and his kind will sulk back into the shadows.

  • Comment number 74.

    I see that the link to the main "have your say" on this subject, the one with the overwhelming majority in support of letting the BNP have their say, has gone from the main page.

    Luckily some kind soul has put up this story so more "correct" opinions can be shown.

  • Comment number 75.

    houting fire in a crowded building doesn't come under the definition of free speech and rightly so. It endangers life and therefore the very democratic rights that you purport to defend. Fascism is incompatible with democracy because fascists believe that many should be denied basic democratic rights not just on the basis of their political views but also on the basis of their skin colour, sexuality, whether they are disabled, etc. To defend a fascist on the basis on free speech is an absurdity in itself. Nick Griffin doesn't believe in free speech and the BNP don't believe in free speech.


    -----

    Would you be of the same view if the BNP were a Muslim group?

    The "rules" of a democratic society apply to all, no matter what their point of view or political persuasion.

    No-one here is defending the BNP (fascists as you put it) but simply saying that as we are a democratic nation we should afford them the same rights everyone else is supposed to have.

    To do anything less makes us as bad as the fascists, does it not?

    --------------------------

    To be frank, if a muslim group that was running for political office had the same views then yes, I would say the same thing! The fact of the matter is that the BNP are the only political party of any notable size that would deny basic democratic rights to vast swathes of the population if it got into power. That is why they need to be opposed and why they are not a normal political party.

    I also do not think affording the same rights to fascists as we would any other political ideology is fascist at all. Democracy comes with a basic respect that we are all part of the franchise. How can a group that is challenging the concept in the first place be regarded on a democratic footing? Its like chairing a meeting and allowing one person in the meeting to go around cracking people in the face when they don't like what is being said and then refusing to remove them because they are 'entitled' to their say. They have broken the rules of democracy and are therefore nothing to do with it.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    "to be fair facism is a much mis-used ,specific,political term, it doesn't really apply to the BNP, unless they've started talking about arbitrarily taking over the UKs means of production while i wasn't listening.

    As far as i can make out, what the BNP want is for 'ethnic britons' (they do have a system of describing 'ethnic britons' but it essentially means white & born in the UK)to receive preferential treatment over all other ethnicities.

    I believe the correct term for such a policy is 'apartheid'."

    -------------

    Whilst that aspect of their politics is indeed apatheid, this is combined with a corporatist economic policy, militarism, extreme nationalism, homophobia, a eugenics view of disability and the idea that political opposition (e.g. trade unions) should be banned. This is no doubt fascist.

  • Comment number 78.

    #69 DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:
    "This is a great idea. I hope it goes ahead.

    It's rather sad to see how many people voted BNP at the euro elections. Presumably most of those voting BNP had no idea what their policies are."

    >>

    But, you see, you have to ask yourself why these voters' voices aren't represented by the mainstream political parties. Does NuLabour represent the average working man as it once did? Nope. Are we now at the stage where political correctness has stifled personal expression so much and driven real sentiments underground to the extent that some now believe the BNP is the answer?

    There's an awful lot about the way the UK is going that I don't like, BNP or not. Who do I vote for? These spivvy new breeds of politicians that come straight out of university into politics, all nice and shiny? These NuLab lot who are trying to force our normality in a particular direction and making a hopeless mess of doing that?

    My own answer is not to vote until someone comes up with policies of which I approve.


  • Comment number 79.

    BnSngltn wrote:

    Nick Griffin doesn't believe in free speech and the BNP don't believe in free speech.


    ----------------

    Then you are free not to vote for him.

  • Comment number 80.

    50. At 1:49pm on 07 Sep 2009, BnSngltn wrote:
    "...The Green Party are not going to remove anyone's citizenship rights and certainly not on the basis of skin colour. Neither is any other significant party, with the exception of the BNP. In what possible way are the Green Party remotely as offensive as the BNP?!"
    =====================

    Now there you go - that's the nature of 'offence' - we all find different things offensive. Once you start banning people because someone thinks they are offensive, where do you stop? Sounds like you would not be happy if the greens were banned because I find them offensive.

    When I wrote that at #25 I was being a bit tongue in cheek...but if we want to label ideas as 'offensive'- then as a straight matter of fact the greens pose more threat to me personally than the BNP. The greens might not want to remove my citizenship, but they would remove my livelihood, my freedom and my quality of life. Personally I find that fairly 'offensive'

    ...but no matter how vile their ideology, I would still let the greens on question time.

  • Comment number 81.

    "20. At 12:07pm on 07 Sep 2009, ravenmorpheus wrote:

    The BNP have as much right to a voice as the Muslim council of Britain does."

    I would argue that the BNP would have more rights to a voice, as they are a political party and the MCB aren't.

    I don't agree with either group but one is actually allowing the population to vote on it's policies while the other is unaccountable to the general public.

  • Comment number 82.

    If the Labour party can share a platform with Libya and Sinn Fein with their history of terrorism it seems to me they are much more afraid of the BNP for the damage it can do to them.

    This is not a good enough reason not to share a platform with the BNP.

    Like any other extremist party the BNP knows it will have to moderate its views if it is to retain credibility.

    If it was not invited to participate this would anger many people who do not vote BNP but do agree with their anti European stance.

    They are hardly likely to win the general election but just as other minority parties may have a representative for the views of many voters.

    This can only be a good thing because it will keep those in power on their toes when they try to introduce their own radical rules and regulations.

    Those objecting to the BNP are hardly clean themselves and as ever the most important point here is free speech.

    All the people should be given the right to a hearing all of the time. There are enough laws in place for those who step out of line.

  • Comment number 83.

    Of course Griffin should be allowed to take part. His views are little different from those aired by many on the right of the Tory party back in the late 1960s and 1970s - Enoch Powell most of all. All this talk of racism and neo-nazism is merely leftist propaganda to deflect attention way from the real and fundamental issues that the BNP is trying to address. It should not be taken for granted that Britain is a multi-cultural country; after all have the native British people ever been consulted as to whether they wanted this? The truth seems to be that is it is something that was imposed undemocratically from above, by successive governments since 1945. Delicate issues need to be debated with careful thought and diplomacy, but they need to be debated nevertheless.

  • Comment number 84.

    "80. At 3:19pm on 07 Sep 2009, jon112uk wrote:
    50. At 1:49pm on 07 Sep 2009, BnSngltn wrote:
    "...The Green Party are not going to remove anyone's citizenship rights and certainly not on the basis of skin colour. Neither is any other significant party, with the exception of the BNP. In what possible way are the Green Party remotely as offensive as the BNP?!"
    =====================

    Now there you go - that's the nature of 'offence' - we all find different things offensive. Once you start banning people because someone thinks they are offensive, where do you stop? Sounds like you would not be happy if the greens were banned because I find them offensive.

    When I wrote that at #25 I was being a bit tongue in cheek...but if we want to label ideas as 'offensive'- then as a straight matter of fact the greens pose more threat to me personally than the BNP. The greens might not want to remove my citizenship, but they would remove my livelihood, my freedom and my quality of life. Personally I find that fairly 'offensive'"

    ------------------------

    Offense is not as subject as you are making out. There is a qualitative difference between a party that you believe would lower you standards of living if its policies were implemented and one that believes you have no right to reside in this country or participate in any kind of politics at all. One can be reversed, the other cannot. If the BNP ever got into power, all democratic means of removing them would be closed down. If the Greens got into power and their policies did lower your living standards, you would be free to campaign for their removal. Those are two significantly different levels of offense, one is 'I don't like that' and the other one is 'hang on, these people are questioning my very humanity'. If you don't think that is different fine, let's sit on our arses and let the BNP gain more and more power. In my own case, I won't stop until they are defeated as a political force.

  • Comment number 85.

    I think that, with its lamentable record of bias, it is wrong that the BBC makes its own judgement about who should appear on these programmes. I think a mathematical formula based on actual votes is a much better idea than leaving this to the BBC.

  • Comment number 86.

    The Bnp are not like any other party because firstly they pay lip service to democracy ;see what happens to GRIFFIN,S critic,s within the party.I can,t think of any neo-nazi party in history that once elected aloud free and fair elections.So should they be allowed to use democracy and freedom to take those away from us? no.

    secondly They They are not a normal civic nationalist party like UKIP.They plan to use their power to remove licence payers that arn,t racialy pure enough from the country.Why should licence payers be forced to pay for a service that promotes a party that which to remove them?

    Thirdly Giving any platform to a racialy divisive party can cause violence to increase (see the rise in racial crime in areas of BNP activity).If the bbc plan to give coverage to this party how do they intend to ensure the safety of their licence payers?If they can,t guarantee that do they have a compensation fund including donations from presenters being paid to interview the BNP.

    If the bbc carry on giving a anti-democratic party who spout hatred and believe my relatives dissapeared rather than were murderd.Then i hope millions decide to withold there licence payment.

  • Comment number 87.

    Denying anyone their freedom of speech simply because their views differ from yours is the very definition of facsism.
    The UAF (United Against Facsism) group used violence and mob rule to stop the BNP saying their views, define 'Ironic' or 'Hypocritical'

  • Comment number 88.

    "BnSngltn wrote:
    "Now the question is: Who's the real enemy of democracy and racial equality? The people who openly advocate a point of view, or the people who say that you may not express that view?"

    ------------------------------------

    Well given that they believe in an all-white Britain, it is pretty clear that the BNP are the enemies of both racial equality and democracy. At least try and come out with a remotely sensible argument."

    So let me get this straight, in order to prevent a future where a political party is elected that might threaten democracy and free speech we should ban people from presenting a viewpoint that you disagree with?

    Sounds good to me, I disagree with the political points of lots of groups can we add them to the banned list as well?

    The vast majority of people do not support the BNP, they are a minority party but they ARE a legal political party.

    Ironically enough it seems that the ones calling for the BNP to be banned to protect freedom of speech are from the left wing - and yet they consider that to be a trait of the right wing.

  • Comment number 89.

    #31, pandatank wrote:

    ...the BNP will be demolished in debating terms yet walk away with the "popular vote". When an argument has been proved to be devoid of logic & reason and is riddled with fallacy it should "slink" away with tail between legs. Unfortunately, I suspect many of todays audience won't see anything wrong with it. We seem to love ideas that make no sense at all, but appeal to our primal (base) emotions. All the conditions that allowed Hitler's rise to power in the 1930's are being reproduced now
    -----------------------------

    This is precisely my fear too, both for the 'debate' and for the future of the country. The ease with which people seem to be swept into simplistic tribal thinking (gut rather than head) is truly scary, and much of current mainstream 'thought' regarding Muslims is woeful, with people determined to only see a single amorphous lump constantly offended at things, and condoning of brutality. What appeared to start out as a backlash to PC has snowballed into something far nastier.

    Yes, in any democratic country, we need to let the BNP on TV, but we also need audiences (studio and home) to have better reasoning skills. We need people to have greater knowledge of how and why the press run the stories they do, so that people can start to see through all these popular "...in case it offends Muslims" and "PC gone mad" type stories. In short, we need people with some intellectual self-defence. As it is, intellect is a derisive word to be bundled with elite, liberal and do-gooder in most people's lexicon. And we're the poorer for it.

  • Comment number 90.

    The three-main Political Parties need and deserve 'shock' therapy. What is also true is that the News Media is responsible for over-centralisation of News Coverage. Nobody, whether Political or News Media, seems to want to highlight or deal with issues facing 'ordinary' people in the community - hence, the disillusionment, lack of Trust and Confidnece in politicians. Furthermore, this lack of trust began way before the MP expenses row. But, again, would like us to believe that this issues was the begining. The three-main Praties have to face many questions about issues confronting those they are meant to be representing in the community. The fact that the BNP may be best placed to bring the attitude of the there main parties back down to earth, shows how much of a failure it has been for them to connect with 'ordinary' people. Not that the 'ordinary' person want the BNP to gain seats, but in order to alert and trigger and test the three-main parties. The fat that an MP has no Statutory Obligation to Represent you or I is clearly a fundamental failing by these three-main parties. It provides a clear opportunity for MPs to stand loyal to their party in instances when constituents need to stand firm in principle when supporting them. Afterall, who should your MP be loyal to first?

  • Comment number 91.

    Denying anyone their freedom of speech simply because their views differ from yours is the very definition of facsism.
    The UAF (United Against Facsism) group used violence and mob rule to stop the BNP saying their views, define 'Ironic' or 'Hypocritical'

    ---------------------

    That isn't the very definition of fascism and it isn't because we disagree. Fascism is a specifically undemocratic ideology that includes authoritarian nationalism, militarism and corporatist economic policies and all examples of fascism in practice there has been no freedom of speech. It is in the name of democracy that a group like the BNP must be prevented from getting to power because if they ever did there would be no democratic way of removing them. There are lots of things I don't like that I wouldn't ban and lots of parties I disagree with that I have no issue with talking anywhere. The BNP are different because they would prevent us exercising our democratic rights if they got into power and we could not remove them democratically. To defend them on a principle that they are specifically opposed to is absurd.

  • Comment number 92.

    83. At 3:39pm on 07 Sep 2009, marklv wrote:
    Of course Griffin should be allowed to take part. His views are little different from those aired by many on the right of the Tory party back in the late 1960s and 1970s - Enoch Powell most of all. All this talk of racism and neo-nazism is merely leftist propaganda to deflect attention way from the real and fundamental issues that the BNP is trying to address. It should not be taken for granted that Britain is a multi-cultural country; after all have the native British people ever been consulted as to whether they wanted this? The truth seems to be that is it is something that was imposed undemocratically from above, by successive governments since 1945. Delicate issues need to be debated with careful thought and diplomacy, but they need to be debated nevertheless.
    -------------------------

    Again, I respect your right to state that you would like a debate on multi-culturalism, although I disagree with your reasoning for a few reasons:
    "His views are little different from those aired by many on the right of the Tory party back in the late 1960s and 1970s - Enoch Powell most of all."
    We also had Apartheid in South Africa - which most people abhorred. We also had slavery which is now seen as repugnant. The short answer is that society has (mostly) grown up and realised that skin colour means nothing - we are all humans. The benefits this country gains from the so-called "leftist propaganda" is a fundamental respect for the right of everyone to live and prosper, and contribute to the prosperity of the society in which they live.
    The impositions of multi-culturalism from above has been the result of the beliefs of successive governments, as voted for by the British public. Therefore there is an argument that it has been democratically agreed. If it was not acceptable then one of the political parties would have repudiated the changes at the time. The legislation has been necessitated by the attitudes of a number of people who have been unwilling to evolve their own world view to understand that difference is not something to be afraid of, or, indeed, an excuse to permit victimisation.

    Allowing any group, whether minority or majority, to be victimised and vilified is something that society as a whole has come to view as wrong. Something I would suggest needs no debate, unless the rights of one group are expected to impinge on the rights of another.

  • Comment number 93.

    "64. At 2:31pm on 07 Sep 2009, BnSngltn wrote:

    Shouting fire in a crowded building doesn't come under the definition of free speech and rightly so. It endangers life and therefore the very democratic rights that you purport to defend. Fascism is incompatible with democracy because fascists believe that many should be denied basic democratic rights not just on the basis of their political views but also on the basis of their skin colour, sexuality, whether they are disabled, etc."

    So you are quite happy for people to have their democratic rights denied based on their political views? That sounds pretty facist to me.

    There is a difference between shouting fire in a crowded room - which is a stupid example generally used by people trying to argue for removing free speech for people they disagree with.

    But lets follow the point and ban shouting "Fire" in a crowded room, I would suspect that you will have more people dead as a result of smoke inhalation and third degree burns.

    At the moment the BNP are whispering in the ears of the voters spreading their poison, however all the political parties are trying to ignore them. If we pulled them out of the shadows we will expose their weakness.

    If we prevent freedom of speech because people may abuse it we don't have freedom of speech.

  • Comment number 94.

    Why shouldn't the BNP have a place on the programme? It's a recognised political party that is part of the democratic process (such as it is!). I do not like the BNP, but anyone refusing to share a platform with Griffin is a coward, or is awash in political correctness, or just plain stupid. The best way to show up the BNP for what it is is to debate with it. Public debate. Rational debate. Open rational argument. Any politician worth his or her salt should be up for it. Anyone who isn't doesn't deserve to be on the programme ever again.

  • Comment number 95.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 96.

    "BnSngltn wrote:
    Whilst that aspect of their politics is indeed apatheid, this is combined with a corporatist economic policy, militarism, extreme nationalism, homophobia, a eugenics view of disability and the idea that political opposition (e.g. trade unions) should be banned. This is no doubt fascist."

    Since when have trade unions been considered political opposition? They may provide financial support to a political party but they are not a political power in their own right.

    The ironic thing is that if this was in fact the policies of the BNP (I haven't personally heard of them but I haven't actively searched out the BNP's policies) it would be best if the party was forced into the open and challenged on these views.

  • Comment number 97.

    Based on the BNP's increasing popularity, they should indeed be allowed on Question Time. Other parties use it to promote themselves for free so why shouldn't the BNP.

  • Comment number 98.

    Every time the BNP are given any form of publicity to spout their filth blacks, muslims, jews, gays, people with an accent get beaten up in the streets. They get spat at, their windows get smashed, their homes firebombed, their places of worship and community centres get vandalised.
    By inviting Nick Griffin onto Question Time, the BBC must share the guilt.
    So when I get my head kicked in for being black, gay and Muslim - I know which doors to go knocking on. Shame on you BBC - this isn't what I pay my licence fee for.

  • Comment number 99.

    60. At 2:10pm on 07 Sep 2009, thornton_reed wrote:

    #29

    Can't it just be a bipartisan-comment. ;)
    ___________________________________________________________

    If it was an unbiased left-right-wing comment why did #13 stir you?

    Is it because you're so Governmently/BBC neutral in your opinion?

  • Comment number 100.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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