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Nick Griffin on Question Time

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Gavin Allen | 19:59 UK time, Friday, 23 October 2009

The claims made against Question Time by various publications and commentators are clear: it was a "typical BBC conspiracy". The audience was clearly "rigged" to ensure a "lynch-mob mentality". The "usual Question Time format was changed" to focus entirely on the BNP and to "ignore general topics of the week". David Dimbleby pursued a "personal attack against Nick Griffin". And the "publicity-seeking" programme "did it all for the ratings".

So much for the charges. The reality is a bit more straightforward.

qt_wide400.jpg

It was Question Time. With a lot more people watching than normal. And a lot more column inches written in advance about it than normal. And significantly more demonstrators outside the venue than normal. But otherwise, in all the core elements, it was Question Time as normal.

As in any Question Time week, members of the public guide producers on what's to be debated. The programme is driven by the questions submitted by the audience itself. And unsurprisingly, they chose to focus on topics that were in the news this week - immigration, Jan Moir's article on the death of Stephen Gately, the BNP's co-option of historical figures and, yes, Question Time itself.

What, no post strike? No Afghanistan? They were on the list of issues to be debated. But, from the weight of questions, other topics galvanised our audience more, and there simply wasn't time to get to them. This isn't a stopwatch tick-box format. A question might take ten minutes to debate. Or twenty. It is the audience and its members' engagement in an issue which leads the content of the debate. They demand their say and ensure that answers are properly scrutinised.

That means editorial fluidity and flexibility. As in Grimsby and Salisbury earlier this year, occasionally one topic dominates, because the public just doesn't want to move away from it. Back then - as you may have spotted - it was MPs' expenses. This week, it was the BNP and its beliefs and policies, albeit encompassing questions on race, Islam, homophobia, immigration and Churchill. So we didn't change the format. Questions, and debate, just are the format. And again it's the audience which guides it.

And so to the "rigged audience". The audience, as always, was made up of a broad cross-section of views and backgrounds reflective of the location. That would be the same whether we were in Liverpool, Llandudno or - as in this case - London. Every week, they're encouraged to participate and to ask probing questions to provoke debate. So: were BNP supporters invited and allowed in? Yes. In fact, they made more than one contribution to the discussion. Was that enough? Did they applaud sufficiently or counter the boos directed at their party leader? Hard to judge. But who needs to? That's the thing about people who come to see Question Time - they have minds of their own.

As does David Dimbleby. His job was not to "get" Nick Griffin, or to "expose" him as a racist and crush him in public. It was to chair a debate. Which he did, brilliantly. That meant giving not just the audience members their say, but panellists too. All of them. And probing panellists - all of them - on past policy, utterances and beliefs. So David did indeed forensically grill Mr Griffin on everything from the Ku Klux Klan to the Holocaust. And likewise Jack Straw was questioned over government immigration policy. Sayeeda Warsi on civil partnerships. Not ganging up against one member of the panel. Just robust questioning to achieve clarity. It's what the audience expects - every week.

Chasing ratings? Question Time has been going for 30 years and has very healthy viewing figures, rising to a recent record peak throughout the past series. The decision to invite Nick Griffin onto the programme had nothing to do with ratings. It had to do with our obligation to show due impartiality and the fact that only now has the BNP crossed a particular electoral threshold in securing European parliamentary seats. (See a previous post by my colleague Ric Bailey.)

But the key manner in which this was Question Time as normal is that it was unpredictable. Week in, week out, none of us involved in the programme has any idea how the audience will react, what will anger or amuse them, whether this or that panellist will shine or sink or even whether a cat called Tango will wander behind the set while we're on air (Google it. You'll get the drift).

But amid all the normal unpredictability, one question remains the same every week. Did it work? And, as is the answer to everything with Question Time, you decide.

Update 1515, 24 October: The document that appeared in both the Daily Mail and on its website today is not, contrary to the claim by the Daily Mail, the same document issued to members of the Question Time audience.

The version of the instructions printed in the Daily Mail has Nick Griffin's profile first - the version issued to the audience had Jack Straw's profile first.

There was only one instruction guide given to members of the audience and it is the same format as issued every week. The BBC instructions always begin with the panel member from the government - in this week's case Jack Straw.

On the version printed in the Mail, the Nick Griffin entry has been placed over that of Mr Straw.

As a result, Mr Griffin's entry appears twice in the version on the Mail's website and Mr Straw not at all.

Gavin Allen is executive editor, Question Time.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Seems to me that the BBC must have used the Lib Dem party membership list to select the audience - Yes, I'm afraid the bias was that obvious.

    As for the 'rent-a-mob' outside the BBC, well how ironic that they were claiming to be pro-democracy but were trying to stop AN ELECTED MEP from stating his parties views on OUR PUBLIClY FUNDED PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTER paid for by everyone in the UK (but treated by the loathsome Peter Hain as his personal property). That is called facism when other governments do it - but not apparentely in PC UK.

  • Comment number 2.

    I was disgusted with the BBC that was not a proper question time program that was a witch hunt I'm not a BMP member but a senior citizen who does agree with some of the BMP views.Last night most of the audience must have been hand picked just to have ago at Nick and I think he did very well and Jack Straw well what can I say nothing. The chairman of the panel I thought was to be impartial but he was as bad as the audience and should have not been on the show. I also think that most of the MPs think the very same but they don't have the guts to say what they really think. After last night I will vote for the BMP in future. So good luck Nick

  • Comment number 3.

    dearsir/madam,freedom of speech is a two way thing,go to a bnp meeting and disagree with there veiws,you will find free speech will not be allowed that is why the bnp shoud not be seen as democratic,rember the nazis!this is how they started.

  • Comment number 4.

    I made a positive decision not to watch this stupidly staged programme and I am amazed that an intelligent person like Dimbleby allowed himself to be involved ..the programme was always going to be a witchhunt that the BNP would use to their advantage so why give them credence.. from what I read today that is exactly what has happened ...until such time as the BBC get a grip and return to proper standards I will not be watching this programme again...it is now in the dregs dept

  • Comment number 5.

    I felt embarrassed and ashamed at how Nick Griffin was treated on Question Time. I have never, and will never vote for the BNP however that doesn't mean I want a baying audience and panel to harass him to the point he was barely able to finish a sentence. Like it or not, his party has a following and we as members of a democracy have a duty to listen and debate constructively. Where was the debate? I am none the wiser what he thinks as he was never allowed to finish a point.
    At home i felt embarrassed at how low a level the program had plumbed. David Dimbleby ducked the hard job of chairing the debate and just joined in with the crowd - he must take responsibility for allowing things to get out of control. The BBC were both courageous and wise to invite him on the programme - having done that they should have ensured he was treated with the basic courtesy that every panel member is entitled to. Will the BBC do the right thing and apologise for how he was allowed to be treated?

  • Comment number 6.

    Its the same thing they done to Watchdog

  • Comment number 7.

    #3. Exactly what are you trying to say. Publicity did not bring out the Nazi Party- a political vacuum cause by no Kaiser, an ecconomic vacuum caused by the depression were the two key things that allowed the Nazis into power.Hitler came to power democratically through PR transferrable vote which was sanctioned by the allies. We have in this country a moral decrepitude shown by all the establishment parties who have nothing new to offer and have dragged the parliamentary system through the mud, aided and abetted the banking crisis and have taken us into an illegal war and the electorate have had enough. You cannot blame the BNP for that no matter what you think of their politics. That kind of publicity won't do the BNP any harm but we're not going to go overboard. There are other parties too-UKIP English Nationalists and English democrats, Greens not to mention but a few. There are certain things that are going to resonate. BNP is not the only party talking about immigration- so too are the Tories because Labour has not told the truth. Unless we deal with these tensions and this nonsense of multiculturalism matters are only going to get worse.

  • Comment number 8.

    Generally a very good programme, although I'm not sure I would agree with Kelvin Mackenzie that it was up there with 'Frost/Nixon'...

    I am not going to fall into the trap of doing a 'player rater' for each of the participants. But I would make the following general comments.

    The BBC Trust and Question Time producers were not right not to accede to requests to pull the programme or capitulate to the threat of legal action by Peter Hain. This would have been counter-productive in my view. We can close our eyes and ignore the fact that people have been voting for the BNP but it is not going to alter that reality. We have to decide what action we will take as a result and banning him from the QT programme is not going to help in understanding why people have voted BNP.

    This is an important wake-up call, and as many of the guests pointed out last night, there are questions of whether the issues of concern to the voters have been listened to, and whether the politicians have responded adequately as a result.

    I have some sympathy with Hain over the issue of 'legitimacy' but the idea that the BNP are not already communicating with many people via the internet, unfiltered and without balance and impartiality without their being challenged means that they do need to be engaged in a debate.

    Many criticised the appearance on Question Time by saying 'He should be the subject of a hostile interview by the likes of Jeremy Paxman'. Well he has already. And Andrew Neil. They were tough interviews where he was subjected to a grilling. But once the people were voting BNP in numbers there was always going to come a time where he had to face an audience.

    Balancing the danger of him being seen as just slightly further to the far-right / far-left of, say, UKIP or Respect, depending on one's view - or of it being an 'ambush' which would be used as a propaganda coup was never going to easy - and QT should be applauded for taking these risks.

    My personal view is that this programme could have been extended 10-15 minutes to allow a 'warm-up' question on the Post Office to emphasise the 'normality' of a debate - but others will feel that this was not to acknowledge the distinct nature of the BNP.

    I don't believe the audience was 'gerrymandered', but part of the problem here is that metropolitan audiences, by their nature younger and more affluent, may not fully comprehend the pressures being faced by the people who have been in the sights of the BNP's targeted campaigns. They may be too ready to assume that people voting for Griffin have delved into his past, rather than latching on to some headline policies.

    Saying that, Baroness Warsi did do a very good job of putting across the dilemmas faced by people in her 'square mile' in the north of England and how the argument should be more about winning over the public than 'beating the BNP over the head'.

    I was disappointed that Jack Straw maybe didn't concede that saying one thing and doing another over EU issues, or a situation of 'words and figures differ' on levels of european migration didn't help build trust in the Government and could lead to disaffection.

    As for the question of 'ganging up' on Griffin. Well in a sense he has put himself outside the political mainstream, so he can hardly complain about being in a minority, but maybe some consideration should have been given to having other 'nationalist' parties like the SNP or Plaid Cymru represented to show that racism does not need to be a feature of looking after national interests.

    I'm not David Dimbleby's biggest fan, and often find him a bit too smug and pompous, especially with the studio audience. But he did come into his own last night - this was the sort of strong character needed to deal with the large personalities. Griffin was held to account on key points such as his video with David Duke. But there was I think a bit of a danger of Griffin being 'painted into a corner' rather than asked to spend a bit of time explaining and justifying his positions.

    But this is maybe to risk not seeing the wood for the trees. Such a QT was never going to perfect - but that is not a reason for not having taken the decision to go ahead with it, and taking the flak accordingly.

    Many wish to resort to the law to silence and shut down Griffin. But my questions are these. If one didn't have access to the law, what would your responses to the BNP be then ? Shouldn't we be doing those things anyway ?

    Also in any situation whether it be Northern Ireland in the past and the Middle East in the future, it is very tempting to think that if certain key personalities could be moved out of the way, things would improve. This is often not the case, as those people are figureheads representing large bodies of opinion which are not going to change overnight because one person retires or is replaced by a deputy.

    And the various reasons people chose to vote for the BNP may not go away just by choosing not to put them on the platform of public scrutiny.

    So we have to acknowledge our complacency and treat this programme, to coin a phrase, as a 'call to action' - and hope our politicians do the same.

    And whilst there will much debate among historians about the various aspects of Winston Churchill's life and career, many will agree with his statement that 'jaw jaw is better than war war'. However difficult last night's debate may have been for some people, trying to suppress debate and free speech is not, in my view, the answer as it has too much of a risk of people resorting to weapons other than words..

  • Comment number 9.

    I was particularly disgusted by Dimbleby rebuking Griffin for having a nervous grin.

    It took me back to my school days. My teachers liked to use that trick. They knew perfectly well that the grin was stress, not amusement, but it was an opportunity for them to assert themselves and to crush their victim.

    I despised my teachers as bullies.

  • Comment number 10.

    Firstly I do not, nor will I ever vote BNP. However, the shameful debacle that I experienced last night left me squirming in embarassment. The obviously hand picked audience was a great deal more "ethnic" than on most programmes in the series, & the utter lack of authority shown by Dimbleby was abhorent.
    The BBC seemed to be doing the right thing by inviting an elected mp onto a debate show, but then let the programme deteriorate into a mud slinging match where audience & panelists alike, were allowed to bully & interrupt someone who was trying to answer questions. I wonder if this was intended as a pacifier to the "facist" mob outside (what else can we call people who try to stifle the political views of others?).
    You had a glorious opportunity to grill the BNP on the other issues of import but instead squandered the chance & made the BNP stronger, & more victim than aggressor.
    Well done indeed!
    Oh yes Gavin Allen, the explanation above is weak & unsubstanciated as anyone who watched the show can see.

  • Comment number 11.

    i was embarrassed for nick griffin was treated on question time last night, it appeared to me to be a witch hunt which was pre-sorted for the questions to be asked, and not the normal type of topics usually debated on question time,most of the audience asking the questions in my opinion was no better than the man who they was calling racist, i feel it just showed that this country is bowin to pressure from other people and not listenin to the people of this DEMOCRATIC country, i think that bbc should listen to its licence fee payers not political parties to run itself

  • Comment number 12.

    I need clarification, when a question was posed to Nick Griffin regarding his views on the Holocaust, he refused to answer in case he was prosecuted ( I believe it is a criminal offence to write or say the holocaust didn't take place) . However, Jack Straw said he could answer, as he was the Justice Minister he would give his guarantee Griffin wouldn't face any prosecution. If I heard correctly ,can Jack Straw do this, and if he can and if Griffin had given his beliefs, would this have set a precedent

  • Comment number 13.

    Judging from Griffin's inept performance, nobody has anything to fear from him.
    I must say he was allowed to get off lightly on 1 or 2 issues, where he should have been pressed for further explanation, and allowed to provide further explanation.
    I was left wondering what his opinions were on those issues.
    e.g. the matter of "indigenous British people."
    who precisely does that include of the people who now reside in Britain, and does he believe in repatriation of some people, and precisely which groups of people ?
    What if some of those groups of people do not have anywhere to repatriate' to ?
    What if their one and only nationality is British ?
    What if their spouses or families are indigenous ? Must they leave their families ?
    He did sometimes make himself look foolish, and somewhat ignorant, on the matter, for example, of the Holocaust, although I have to say that the Holocaust is completely irrelevant to the issues facing us in the 21st century.
    To ask someone if they believe the Holocaust happened is about as relevant as asking them if Vesuvius destroyed Pompei.
    The programme failed to address most of the important issues it should have been addressing.
    It was a programme almost entirely about Griffin and the BNP, and their attitudes to race, and to Islam, and to homosexual petting in public.
    I am sure the three main Parties were delighted to be able to avoid discussing all the issues such as the economy,banks,poverty,unemployment, crime, health, education,wars, pensions.
    The one and only question which was not about Griffin and the BNP was a question on some tabloid gossip about a pop singer and homosexual relationships.
    It was all second rate stuff, not even up to the standards of Radio 2, Radio 5 Live,or even Radio 1, and all the panellists were pretty second-rate.


  • Comment number 14.

    I'll keep this short. cheers bbc, you've just convinced me to vote BNP.

  • Comment number 15.

    it seems the producers of question time set their own agenda with that one and have failed to remain neutral and have caused the bbc yet more harm.
    sadly in trying to please every one they reduced the show to a witch hunt and viewers noticed, if the producers wanted to produce a soap like eastenders then they should do so but to ruin question time now that is a tragedy on an epic scale.
    one can only hope that if the bnp are to return they be treated just as any other political party and quizzed on what they can do for the people of this country just as any and all parties.

  • Comment number 16.

    I have spent a fair bit of time looking at various blogs and I have to say that there is an awful lot of support out there for not so much the BNP but their voicing of fears - or the actuality - that the immigration system is out of control. Couple this with dissatisfaction with mainstream political parties and the recession and I can see huge changes over the next 10 years. The political elite have only themselves to blame for their "I know best" attitudes.

  • Comment number 17.

    It seems strange to me that the Government does not seem to understand that a lot of the UK population have had enough. They are being taxed to the hilt to bail out others who will not work, will not give anything to society but are willing to take everything. We live on a little Island which is literally rotting away as the infrastructure collapses. In the meantime we are throwing millions of pounds at people without getting anything in return. We then wonder why we are fast becoming a third rate country. It's not about race, it's about us having third class politicians who never deliver. It's about people coming to this country, getting benefits without first having paid anything in. It's about normal British people being fed up of seeing themselves and their families being ripped off. That's why the BNP has a rising membership and why all three main parties should be worried.

  • Comment number 18.

    It was fair for QT to mainly concentrate on Griffin and his views; he wants platforms to put them forward and is also a controversial figure, so it is reasonable that people would want to, and should be allowed to, question him on his views.

    Be honest, the BNP members in the audience would have wanted Griffin to have as much air time as possible to express his views about immigration, race, Islam and so on. That essentially is what he got.

    Griffin’s claim that Winston Churchill [if alive today] would join the BNP is ludicrous; there was the equivalent of the BNP back in the 1930s - Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists; Churchill never expressed the slightest interest in them. (Apart from arresting their leaders and imprisoning them when war broke out.)

    Churchill was not an instinctive racist, in India he fought along side brave Sikhs; he was also essentially an atheist; he was a great patriot, but then so was my father and so am I.
    I am English and have no desire to live anywhere else, nor patience with those express a wish to destroy this country, I support the troops in Afghanistan; we are there for a good reason. (9/11.)

    Griffin’s views on the Holocaust are naive and risible; my father did serve in the armed services (and saw much active service. e.g. D Day landings) during WWII; he also had friends that helped liberate the Belsen concentration camp. Trying to pretend that the Nazis never had a deliberate policy of exterminating Jews is simply fantasy.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/4445811.stm

    Griffin has shared a platform with a leader of the Klu Klux Klan; not many people in Britain would choose to do that. Trying to state that he was trying to present a moderate position (Of what? White supremacy?) is risible.

    The claims that the QT audience was somehow rigged against him are paper thin. Those used to political party meetings are used to audiences that by and large agree with the speakers. Debates with the public open the audience up to sceptical, the uncommitted and those that support other parties.
    Given Griffin's [and BNP's] views it's unsurprising that he also raises hackles amongst those that are the 2nd or 3rd generation children of immigrants that moved to the UK decades ago; those that have friends, colleagues or partners that are from a different ethnic background or overseas country, those that enjoy a curry or Chinese meal and so on.

    Immigration (and Nu Labour's record) is a subject of public concern and debate; but the BNP is not the only party that will be putting forward proposals for tighter controls at the next election. I fully expect a change of Govt. at the next election, so voters will have a range of policies to consider; the BNP by no means is the only game in town.

    I understand the concerns of those in areas where jobs and industry have disappeared, where competition for council housing feels a lottery and feel ignored by the main political parties. Recession and unemployment makes some feel marginalised (others are instinctive tribalists and instinctively hostile to those that are different to them), but hatred and division are not the solution to this countries problems, nor are the feelings or reaction of the majority of the 'indigenous' population.

    BTW. I used to live in London; I moved away simply because it was so expensive to live in and the quality of life is better in regional cities. I can now get out to the countryside in 15 minutes, not 3 hours. I now live in a low crime area with shops open till late, many restaurants and takeaways and so on. And yes, many people of different ethnic backgrounds live here too, and have done so for many decades.

  • Comment number 19.

    Having watched the programme again, what concerned me most about it were the early signs of possible Altzheimers displayed by the Justice Secretary. He was clearly concerned about matters but was unable clearly to articulate his responses- in frustration resorting to a shout at one point, I noticed.

    I cannot but agree that the programme was 'loaded'. Out of goodness knows how many people applied to go on the programme, somehow those with the oportunity to speak were mostly those opposing Mr Griffin. I can only assume that whoever 'vets' applicants and produces the final list of those to receive tickets and ask questions had the opportunty to produce a more balanced audience and list of questions.

    Mr Dimbleby permitted scurrilous personal remarks to be directed at Mr Griffin by members of the panel, which I have never seen him permit before on any Question Time that I have watched.

    Mr Griffin must really be encouraged to return soon so that we can hear his actual balanced comments on current afairs such as are customary of panellists on Question Time, instead of the somewhat boring outpouring of anti-BNP bile that occurred on this occasion.

  • Comment number 20.

    If the main political Parties had not been so useless and destructive for so many years then there would not have been so many protest votes against them and in favour of the BNP in recent Elections.and then Griffin would not be appearing on Question Time.
    The BNP would never have become a force in Britain.
    The 2 Parties who have run the country, each in turn,have served us so badly and failed so badly for so long, that we all know that donkeys or monkeys or dogs or cats could not have done worse than them.
    You only need look at what the Governments of other European nations have done for their citizens to appreciate what poor value for money our Governments have been.
    You only have to consider our Governments'records on the following:--
    1. the economy, raped by bankers who now know their thieving has the guarantee of future bailouts by the Government.
    2. housing.
    3. unemployment.
    4. poverty.
    5. lousy pensions.
    6. the very existence of hospital waiting lists.( inexcusable ).
    7. rampant crime.
    8. appalling and expensive railways.
    9. destructive, costly, and useless wars.
    10.immoral fleecing of the public purse by M.P.'s.
    Rotten Government and a lousy political establishment is what has let in the BNP.
    regards
    Col Howard Talbot

  • Comment number 21.

    Learnerblogger wrote:

    "dearsir/madam,freedom of speech is a two way thing,go to a bnp meeting and disagree with there veiws,you will find free speech will not be allowed that is why the bnp shoud not be seen as democratic,rember the nazis!this is how they started."

    I cannot comment about the Nazis or a BNP meeting.

    But I do remember a Labour meeting where a 70+ year old was thrown out of the conference hall for heckling. Physically thrown out by bouncers, people seem to have VERY short memories.

  • Comment number 22.

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

  • Comment number 23.

    Dear Mr Allen

    QT is driven from the Chair, always has been always will be. Whoever is in that Chair, determines who is talking on the panel, who is allowed to interrupt, which audience members are asked and how long a question is allowed to be debated. Or, at least, that was the formula until 22/10/09.

    On 22/10/09 the Chair not only determined that Mr Griffin should be spiked at will from anyone on the panel he even joined in. The tactic was to make Mr Griffin look small, not to allow him to tell his side of the story, not to allow us, the viewer, to form our own opinion.

    So was the requirement within YOUR job, Mr Allen, to remain impartial, suspended for one hour? So was Mr Dimbleby's contract to remain impartial suspended for one hour? It was okay wasn't it, after all we should all hate the BNP, its leaders and what it stands for?

    Was the audience a REAL selection of people, like me, born and bred in Hammersmith, or was it a selection of people who have moved into Hammersmith by moving out those who were indigenous to the area. How can the BBC EVER guarantee a representative audience? You cannot and you hide behind that in this blog.

    You should resign Mr Allen because you failed to do YOUR job. I urge you to reflect on that and ensure it never happens again. Free speech demands that Nick Griffin is treated with respect and allowed to say what he wishes to say without being heckled by a bunch of five odious middle class wind bags.

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    Sorry...it won't wash. Question Time was a debacle and the editors would be well advised to learn from it instead of patronising viewers because, as "simple folk", they misinterpreted what they saw and heard and are being mislead by the "non- BBC" media. The only person to emerge with any credibility is Bonnie Greer: her short and concise summary in today's Times is a beacon of common sense and logic. Saying more in a few paragraphs than all the BBC political presenting team combined. David Dimbleby, Paxo, Kirsty, Gavin and our esteemed bloggers could learn a lot from her.

  • Comment number 26.

    Mr Allan - You said that David Dimbleby's role was to chair the debate, going on to say he did it brilliantly. Well I don’t know what program you watched but, as a family who always watch Question time, we collectively watched on Thursday night and were DISGUSTED by his performance. I accept it is your role to TRY and defend his performance, but be honest with yourself Mr Allan, be honest, there is no way he was impartial that night and I think you will find on the various web sites commenting on this program the vast majority of people will agree with this.

  • Comment number 27.

    I felt that Nick Griffin was treated badly on question time and it was appauling the format was changed. While I would strongly disagree with much of his partys agenda I do feel that we need a louder voice regarding managing immigration and the rapidly rising level of population in this small island. The threat of this overloading our public services (NHS, Schools,policing)is very evident. If no party will adopt this as part of their agenda then we only have the option of the BNP to voice the publics strong feelings on this. I do also feel that I find it difficult to say I am English, when and how did this cultural change happen ?

  • Comment number 28.

    Having read your excuses I'm afraid, as #25 said, it won't wash.

    All that happened could/should have been foreseen.

    Dimbleby was, I thought, particularly at fault.

  • Comment number 29.

    I always imagined it was the job of a chairman in a discussion like question time to be impartial. David Dimblebeys dislike of Nick griffin was obvious to the point of bordering on naked agression.
    Three questions were put to Mr Griffin one after the other by members of the audience and on each occasion as he tried to answer them Mr Dimblebey shouted Nick Griffin down. I had tuned in to hear what he had to say, instead I saw the chairman preventing him from answering.
    Free speech, I dont think so ?.

  • Comment number 30.

    I watched the show then read a selection of the next days broad sheets, i really resent how stupid the papers must think the people are, they have misquoted and blatantly lied to make Nick Griffin look worse than he already is. I started off wanting him to get grilled but by the end wanted to defend him on some of the points, he might be extreme and nasty but he answered his questions a lot straighter (when allowed) then jack straw (whose government is more than woefully inadequate and should be tried by the hague along with george bush for the lies and deaths in iraq). This article by gavin allen is utter biased rubbish and i cant actually believe that i now feel like voting BNP.

  • Comment number 31.

    I just want to know if the BBC is only going to have Nick Griffin on to represent the BNP; it's not a one man band, it's a political party. Just imagine Labour only being represented by Gordon Brown on TV. I know that after this Griffin will be a gold mine for audience rating figures, but we have seen what sort of a program comes from just having an aunty Sally to throw things at.

  • Comment number 32.

    could this be just the nail in the coffin of this once great program that will aid the bbc's killing off the program to save money.

  • Comment number 33.

    The whole programme was an exercise in the bully boy tactics usually attributed to the fascists. As for the make up of the audience, if the percentages of population had been used then what appeared to be about sixty percent of the audience would not have been from the ethnic minorities. Dimbleby was more intent on portraying a fashionable pseudo Liberal image than even handedness , and the other guests were, to say the least pathetic. Straw and Hulme were out of their depth and full of platitudes that went out of fashion when the twin towers came down, Warsi showed her total lack of grasp of the problems inherent in Britain,bias towards Islam and blind adherence to the party line . The strange American lady was discourteous and wholly concerned with mistakenly showing how intellectual she thought she was compared with every body else.

  • Comment number 34.

    well done the bbc for allowing nick griffin on question time.he did remarkably well considering the witchhunt that replaced the usual question time!they all spoke of democracy and freedom of speech being the cornerstone of our country then proceeded in not allowing nick to speak or answer a question.obviously this democracy does not extend to the bnp or its supporters.the bnp are gathering even more support as we speak.i would just like to point out that the people who are joining and will be voting for the bnp, are just normal everyday working class tax paying folk.who like plain talking and who are fed up feeling like a minority in their own neighbourhood.they are not rascist and i personally know some seihks and asians who have told me they will be voting for the bnp.when i asked why they said there families had worked hard in the last forty years building up businesses paying taxes,intergated well within the communities and loved being british.they said they did not want this to change.i for one agree with them.it has nothing to do with skin colour but everything to do with feeling proud of our being british.and none of us want to be the minority in our own country.listen up, or face the consequence in the next election.i predict the bnp will gain at least ten seats in parliament.in desperate times people do desperate times.the other parties have all contributed to the bnp`s rise...

  • Comment number 35.

    Isn't it a bit ironic that the press are making such an issue about Nick Griffin getting free publicity on Question Time by splashing him all over the front pages?

  • Comment number 36.

    Typical left wing BBC. The same format was follwed after the 9-11 catastrophe. Lord Reith will be turning in his grave. Un-biased public broadcasting;I think not.
    The population wonder why anyone votes for the BNP.
    This Programme format provides part of the answer. The BNP will get stronger unfortunately because NO one listens to the voters grievances. Having worked in run down areas and seen for myself what is happening with regard to immigration and the onslaught of Muslim religion nothing will change until a political party has the moral fibre to stand up and be honest, NOT politically correct and do what the majority of the population want;curb the immigration. Unfortunately as soon as the word immigration is mentioned one is automatically deemed a racist.This country does not have the resources to cope with an influx. We have enough to do to reduce the masses that are part of the client state.
    I used to be a patriot, but more than ever over the last 12 years this country has been in free fall. Thank God I can escape; others cannot.

  • Comment number 37.

    After much watching, then reading, then thinking I have reached the conclusion that the elephant is now out of the room and rampaging down our streets.

    Imv, I believe we are going to find the can of worms, the nasties in the woodshed and all the other cliches of doom exposing our darker sides over the next few months culminating in an election result exposing us for what we are.

    I blame Westminster, a cesspit of mediocrity without a leader amongst them. Imv, the BBC has merely exposed a side of our psyche which as a nation we have been afraid to face - least of all our useless MP's who's snouts have been buried in the trough.

    Hold onto your seats.

  • Comment number 38.

    Having been bullied into suppressing my free speech and being caused breakdowns through it, I could only feel sorry for Nick Griffin as he suffered the same kind of bullying. It is an old trick to distort what people are saying and never let them express things properly. That is the way for people to perceive them in a different light.

    Straw showed the same self-righteousness as those who bullied, exploited and slandered me. He is also in charge of the laws that would have me arrested if I stuck up for myself. My minority group is genius. Let those without sin cast the first stones.

  • Comment number 39.

    So, Nick Griffin has complained to the BBC about Question Time being biased. Is this fair? 1) Griffin appearing on Question Time was a lead article in the news so it was therefore current for questions to be raised on this (just as MPs were grilled during the expenses scandal); 2) Griffin is in a minority party and therefore had to expect that the rest of the panel and the majority of the audience would be in opposition - taking Griffin's own stance on minorities he should not have been listened to at all and sent back to where he came from (the National Front isn't it?); 3) The majority of politicians are able to spin questions to allow them to promote their own policies should they wish - as a party leader it's the least his voters could have hoped for - poor show; 4) Is Griffin complaining that David Dimbleby quoted him verbatim? Is it bias to attack someone with themselves instead of leaving more time to open it to the floor? Surely if Nick Griffin agreed with himself then it would be positive bias in his favour - is it Question Time's fault if he chooses to oppose himself in public?

  • Comment number 40.

    There was also the question of homophobic comments and Nick Griffin saying that he is repulsed by two men kissing in the streets. He was scorned for that, but we all know about hypocrisy.

    There is a plausibility gap between so-called enlightened thinking and common practice. I live in a world where people do not want their noses rubbed in other people's quirky lifestyles. I live in a world where people preach tolerance and understanding, but give me none. I live in a world where people lose their tempers because others express themselves and criticise those around them for no reason, while insisting their victims show forbearance.

    So you reserve your right-on thinking for beating Mr. Griffin over the head.

  • Comment number 41.

    I have attended many management courses during which my department's performance and my personal attributes/weaknesses were discussed by other participants. A rule for these feedback sessions was that the recipient accepted all comments without responding or defending themselves against any negative perceptions during the session and reflected on them later. Some comments were considered unfair or ill informed but most had some element that, if acted upon, enhanced group and individual effectiveness. The practice is widely practised in commerce and industry..I get the impression the Beeb editorial team would have some difficulty with it

  • Comment number 42.

    So much for the charges. The reality is a bit more straightforward.

    Bless.

    Just watched the Newswatch mea gulp-ah dawn patrol post mortem. Interesting. 3 folk. A sulky bloke who doesn’t know much but knows what he doesn’t like. A young lady who was in the QT audience. And a BBC ‘I don’t think so/it was all fine’… for a change.

    ‘They have devoted the whole programme…’, a bit like the QT show itself, which was changed fundamentally to suit a warped notion of balance. They might as well have stuck him in stocks and had all present pelt him with eggs to really hand him a martyr’s tag.

    The young lady – who was there – says ‘the people who were coming’ were there probably because they were anti-BNP. Mr. BBC leaps in and tries to ‘improve’ matters (not sure he did) by claiming audiences are ‘carefully selected’. Plus an interesting leap to ‘if the audience was not with him, they must have been against him’. I thought it was a cross-section, many of whom might not have been decided, or carrying burning torches.

    ‘Carefully selected’? Do what? By whom? On what criteria? Sounds like a uniquely funded licence to rig it any way an arrogant few can enhance the narrative any way they like. Should they wish.

    And, just for fun, the young lady – who was present – tops it off by suggesting Mr. Dimbelby was a less than effective moderator. I believe she, a non-BNP supporter I’d say, reckoned he was not impartial and handed the BNP further bias ammo.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ukfs/hi/

    Pull the other one, it has 'interpreting events' hanging off it.

  • Comment number 43.

    The mistake made by the producers of QT, was in the choice of the other members on the panel. None of the politicians present could attack Mr Griffin on his main thesis, which is that the problems of deprivation in certain inner cities is due to immigration. Indeed the Tory and Lib Dem representatives implicitly endorsed this thesis by attacking the government's immigration policy.

    They concentrated instead on Mr Griffin's murky past. I suspect that BNP voters already know all about this. Indeed even if they are not racists, it is part of the attraction of the BNP, because it reinforces the "kick up the backside" effect on the other parties.

    It was a pity that no one pointed out that the problem of inner city deprivation is centuries old and is unlikely to be solved by anti-immigration policies, however firmly applied.

    The Labour government should be ashamed that after 12 years in power the Tory "right to buy" legislation has not been repealed. It has taken the SNP government in Scotland only 2 years to decide to do so. This would have helped remove one of the grievances that the BNP has exploited, and is just one example of the apparent indifference of New Labour to the problems of the least fortunate in our society, while it panders to the better off.

  • Comment number 44.

    What a shocking programme the other night. I have watched Q.T for years and enjoyed the content However I feel that it's integrity, and impartiality has deminished over the last six months or so. Dimbleby is increasingly contributing his own views and predudices, A definite NO NO. It is now time for a change of Chairman.

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm pleased the programme took place: these issues do need to be raised. They exist, and no amount of PC legislation is going to make them go away, just prevent people discussing them. It's a bit like the Victorian's attitude to sex: they tried to hide and repress it, and it just kept creeping out again in ever nastier ways.

    It was to be expected there would be a bit of a furore the first time these issues were debated in public: but hopefully, when the dust settles and everyone calms down, we can have a reasonable informed debate about issues of race, religions, immigration etc etc. At the moment, we're caught in a trap: we're not allowed to discuss these issues for fear of being labelled 'racist'. Even the BBC is to some extent caught in this dilemma: it cannot, for example, for reasons of the law, allow members of the public to debate these issues on their public forums, such as 'Have Your Say'. But the British public clearly DO want to talk about these very things, and the very organisation designed to give them a voice, and that they pay for, is not allowed to! No wonder they turn to people like Griffin.

    It's clear a section of the population are concerned that this country is losing a way of life it once enjoyed. That view may be all a bit 1950's Enid Blyton for some, but for others it's a great loss. The blame is not necessarily to be laid at the door of immigrants, or homosexuals, or anyone, but whatever the causes, it's simply not fair to dismiss these views as old-fashioned and due to be swept away. How a person really feels about their country is hugely important, and if they feel their country has let them down, it's a loss for all of us.

    So whatever the outcome, let's finally have the big debate everybody's been avoiding: it's going to be painful, and embarrassing, and some people are going say some horrible things that will upset other people, but we can't keep pretending that everything in the UK is just dandy, because it isn't.

    And for the record, I'm not a BNP supporter. I come from the white British working class that they like to say they represent. I converted to Islam a few years ago and married a Pakistani.

  • Comment number 46.

    Thanks for your explanation. Maybe its the truth. But the point is nobody believes you.

  • Comment number 47.

    Who is running the BBC? It has certainly lost its ability to promote free speech. Just try to get a comment relating to Islam on any of the HYS boards and you will be rejected. There are so many political no go areas, and this is supported by the political classes and the BBC editors and journalists. The BNP might not be nice people, but we know for certain that their opponents are very unsavoury. Yet the BNP are saying things that ordinary British people are prevented from speaking about. I say this to the BBC - and I say it in anger - you and your PC and oppressive multiculturalism, which culminated in the farcial Question Time programme, must be held responsible for the creation of long term civil unrest and hostility within this country. People are fed up with being told what to think, fed up with the selective range of opinion formers trotted out on your dreadfully boring news programmes. So go on, moderate this comment out of existence; it offends Big Brother.

  • Comment number 48.

    Read all about it.

    Whatever newspaper group you are represented by (except of course the BNP who are not represented) have a reason why the BBC got it completely wrong, from stirring up a purposefully selected anti-BNP audience, to a conspiracy between the BBC and UK Zionists. So the BBC, because of their bland sycophantic "middle class-ness" and spineless ability to do things properly, are responsible for, if some newspaper estimates are correct, the future election of Mr Griffin as our leader.

    And that audience? Don't around 50% or more of us say we don't vote or we are undecided? And doesn't the support for the BNP supposedly come from this group? So where was that great BIG majority of the audience shouting down the mindless hecklers in the audience and on the platform sitting alongside Mr Griffin?

    I really do NOT want a party like the BNP representing me in my constituency, but I DO want someone other than the mainstream parties or the Green's, UKIP or whoever else. We are those who are most seriously affected by the uncontrolled stream of immigrants to the UK, most upset by the bias demonstrated towards these people, most deprived by the pressure they place on our accommodation, our health, our education, and our jobs. The UK comprises of several small islands - it is not enough space for 65 million let alone a projected 75 to 80 million.

    Who represents us? Now, BBC, do you get it?

  • Comment number 49.

    When there's a debate on British political parties surely only British people should be asked to conribute to it.
    The BBC were right to invite Nick Griffin to appear on Question Time but they could have presented a more convincing debate had they only invited audience members who had the right to vote.
    Many contributions were made by people who appeared, from their still very prominent accents, to be new arrivals to our country.
    I'm not talking about colour here. I'm not in any way racist and I believe that our country can be improved by allowing, indeed encouraging, talented people from other counties to settle here.
    Jack Straw seems to think that our country should be used as a repository for idiots.
    Sure as eggs are eggs, if I were to emigrate to any other country I would not be given the right to vote, draw benefits, live in a comfortable council house, or discuss the future of politics. - Especially if my concern was that the soft politicians currently running the place should continue...
    For a Briton to emigrate to anywhere else proof of solvency has to be supplied, proof of good character and usually the offer of secure employment has also to be supplied.
    The BNP might be over the top and yes they might be racist but people are going to vote for them and take the risk. Because the people who come here to take advantage of our soft society are themselves, on the whole, the most racist and selfish people I've ever met.
    Nick Griffin's party will grow on the back of the Question Time debate. The British people are looking for someone who will at the very least recognise that their efforts, their taxes, their NI
    contributions and their culture will be protected from the importation of the rest of the world's free-loaders. - And if that means, some of these selfish, racist people say that the British are racist. Then that's a risk most of us will take.
    The BBC should be fighting on the side of the British people. Fair political debates are fine but lets have British people debating British politics. Leave the uninvited guests out of it.

  • Comment number 50.

    The BBC 'blinked' on this issue. Having taken a wise, courageous, and correct decision to allow a democratically elected politician to take part in the programme, the BBC clearly went out of its way to ensure that nothing could emerge from it to the BNP's credit.

    This well-scripted ambush of an elected politician has jarred on a viewing public which is clearly more intelligent than the BBC, or mainstream parties, give credit.

  • Comment number 51.

    I am no supporter of the BNP, believe me. Behind the facade of (almost) respectability, lies a party full of hate. However, whether Peter Hain likes it or not, this is supposed to be a country of free speach and democracy, and it is wrong of him to castigate the BBC for allowing the BNP leader to take part in Question Time this week. Until the legitimate concerns of a considerable proportion of this country's population are addressed, or at least in part, the BNP will have an appeal.

    However, I do have missgivings about how Question Time's format seemed to have been changed for this week, right from the start of the programme. It seems that that after inviting Nick Griffin to the panel management BBC management knew that this was going to be a political 'hot potato,' and to appease the like of Peter Hain, they were determined to make life difficult for the BNP party leader. This has definately backfired.

    So, the BBC were surely right to allow Nick Griffin onto the programme but wrong to concentrate almost entirely (except for the last 2 mins) on bashing the BNP.

    Many people are concerned about the loss of British culture which they see as not sitting side by side with cultures brought in by immigration but being consumed by them. Many are worried about housing while others are disappointed in the number of businesses either being destroyed or weakened by EU legislation (other EU members often seem to ignore the rules but we all have to conform, and there's an army of people here making sure that we all do)or unfair trade practises. Some, like me, see virtually all the country's old major brand names disappearing or being taken over by foreign interests, much as a great deal of the UK's infrastructure. If there were any British businesses left to perform takeovers abroad in certain areas, communications for instance,they wouldn't be able to but its open season here. Apart from our national football teams, there's little to be proud of in the UK, save for our freedom of speach, and that looks as if its being undermined. People with these concerns will be attracted to the likes of the BNP and the other mainstream parties are seemingly unwilling or unable to do anything to allay their concerns.

  • Comment number 52.

    No wonder Griffin was shaking-you'd be shaking too in front of a rent-a- mob and a clearly biased panel. Dimbleby was terrible and was clearly itching to join in. Are the bbc and press so out of touch with the mood of the white majority?

  • Comment number 53.

    Nick Griffin got the best deal out of this. He didn't have to explain his unworkable policies, which would have been the deathy of his parties support, becacause everyone but Bonnie Greer decided to treat it as an opportunity to show their immaturity and shout like children.

  • Comment number 54.

    reading and hearing Peter Hain comments it sounds as if the bnp leaders appearance on question time highlighted the issue,s that council tenants, and lower wage earner / middle class people feel strong about and our MPs such as Peter Hain cover up by the same excuses ,
    we are tired of being called racist, or against europe as most of us are not, what we object too is people telling us what we see is incorrect ,


  • Comment number 55.

    The fact that Griffin has one or two million supporters should have had no bearing upon whether or not he should have appeared on QT.

    For all we know, there could be two million people who support paedophilia but should we allow someone who champions those views the right to seek further support on a respectable platform?

    What was the purpose of allowing Griffin on to the panel? If it was to see his views challenged, does anyone think he would change those views one iota? If it was to 'out him' to the electorate and thereby reduce his support, it's probably safe to say that it has had the opposite effect.

    Griffin's appearance on QT has, as predicted, only acted as a focus for all those 'non-racist' racists who were itching to imbue themselves with a modicum of respectability.

    The point is that to give Griffin his 'democratic right' could only and has only assisted in the growth of the BNP, therefore are the BBC satisfied it was a price worth paying?

    Another own goal for Mark Thompson, it really is about time he was replaced, he along with others at the BBC seem to have no idea of the consequences of their decisions.

  • Comment number 56.

    As an addendum, have you noticed that most of the people expressing pro BNP sentiments here have less literacy skills than, say, an illegal immigrant who has been in the country for about a week. If you wish people to beleive in your sentiments, learn to express them in English first. It's a language you of all people should be proud of.

  • Comment number 57.

    People who say 'less literary skills' rather than 'fewer, and who don't know the rule about 'i before e' should be careful. And I am not an addendum, as the construction of the sentence implies.
    I didn't watch the programme, but I knew that it was bound to be divisive. It seems to me that we want things both ways - freedom of speech for us, but not for the people we disagree with
    Could all those who think that true Brits are white through and through, please remember that we are a mongrel race? Even the Romans had African mercenaries

  • Comment number 58.

    To the moderator; there is nothing in this post that contravenes the BBC guidelines so please do not sensor it as you have done with my post no.55.

    The fact that Griffin has one or two million supporters should have had no bearing upon whether or not he should have appeared on QT.

    For all we know, there could be two million people who support paedophilia but should we allow someone who champions those views the opportunity to seek further support on a respectable platform?

    What was the purpose of allowing Griffin on to the panel? If it was to see his views challenged, does anyone think he would change those views one iota? If it was to 'out him' to the electorate and thereby reduce his support, it's probably safe to say that it has had the opposite effect.

    Griffin's appearance on QT has, as predicted, only acted as a focus for all those 'non-racist' racists who were itching to imbue themselves with a modicum of respectability.

    The point is that to give Griffin his 'democratic right' could only and has only assisted in the growth of the BNP, therefore are the BBC satisfied it was a price worth paying?

    Another own goal for Mark Thompson, it really is about time he was replaced, he along with others at the BBC seem to have no idea of the consequences of their decisions.

  • Comment number 59.

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

  • Comment number 60.

    Griffin is a legend! he is only intrested in makin britain better and saying what other people are thinkin but too scared to say

  • Comment number 61.

    Gavin Allen displays all the typical arrogance of the BBC. This week's Question Time was clearly an attempt to ensnare Nick Griffin with a rigged panel and audience and a disgracefully partisan chairman who abandoned any semblance of the impartiality with which he should have conducted the proceedings. The BNP addresses vital issues which are of great concern to much of Britain's population but which the main political parties ignore. The BBC were correct to invite Mr Griffin on to the programme, but wrong to alter the normal format and turn it into a BNP-bashing circus. Gavin Allen's "we know best" attitude is deplorable; the sooner the licence fee is abolished and the BBC comes into the real world, the better!

  • Comment number 62.

    The freedom of speech and expression is infinitely more important than one twitchy man and his prejudices will ever be.

    Kudos to the BBC for going ahead with the programme - the ganging up on Nick Griffin will have evoked some sympathy for him, but equally I think the exposure of some of his more extreme views to the nation will have done the opposite.

    If nothing else, the good that has come out of all this is that the issues that have caused the rise in BNP support are at least now being debated openly in public forum and by the main political parties who up until now have been content to stick their heads in the sand and throw accusations of racism around to stifle such debate.

  • Comment number 63.

    In the late 70's i was in the Anti-Nazi-League and involved in left wing politics. I put myself physicaly on the line to prevent what i saw was a racist and fascist party becoming too powerful. I now have children and i see them grow up in a country with no morals beyond 'im alright jack' which is becoming more and more of a meritocracy. Competition for limited resources is fierce and i find myself asking, why with 3 million unemployed and a crippled economy are we allowing ANY immigration at all? The IT department i work in has around a 20% non-british workforce including white australians, zimbabweans, indians and pakistanis. Are people born in this country just not good enough? Or is it the case that the political and economic elite do not care? I think the latter. I appalled myself by voting BNP in the European elections, so appalled that this is the only forum i could admit it on. I see this country going down the tubes and i see the white working class getting the blame. No change there then. What i want is to see a way out, but failure to discuss immigration, social cohesion and class without someone with an axe to grind playing the 'you are a racist' card is a road to nowhere. The fears of people in this country need addressing. Simply shouting someone down and providing no alternative is hopeless.

  • Comment number 64.

    58 said- "The fact that Griffin has one or two million supporters should have had no bearing upon whether or not he should have appeared on QT.

    For all we know, there could be two million people who support paedophilia but should we allow someone who champions those views the opportunity to seek further support on a respectable platform?"


    If there were, then yes. Societies morals are chosed by the society, not just 'Outraged of Norwich'.

  • Comment number 65.

    I though the government had banned hunting by a pack of rabid hounds and ripping apart a defenceless creature.

  • Comment number 66.

    I COMPLAINED TO THE BBC ABOUT QUESTION TIME THIS IS A BAD RESPONSE
    Thanks for your e-mail regarding 'Question Time' broadcast on 22 October.

    As ever, this edition of 'Question Time' saw tough questioning from the studio audience and chairman David Dimbleby, putting all the panellists on the spot on a range of subjects.

    As with every edition of 'Question Time', the audience themselves wrote the questions and therefore guided the topics chosen.

    The audience was, as always, selected to reflect a variety of backgrounds and a broad range of views right across the political spectrum and included supporters of the BNP.

    Clearly Mr Griffin himself and the British National Party were the subject of intense questioning, but all the panellists were given the opportunity to respond to the points raised and to have their voices heard thus allowing audiences to come to form their own views.

    Thanks again for taking the time to contact us with your concerns.

    Regards

    BBC Complaints
    I DO NOT LIKE BEING TOLD WHAT I CAN DO WITH MY MAIL IT IS MY CHOICE THE BBC ARE FUNDED BY TV LICENCES
    ____________________________
    www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/
    This e-mail (and any attachments) is confidential and may contain personal views which are not the views of the BBC unless specifically stated.
    If you have received it in error, please delete it from your system.
    Do not use, copy or disclose the information in any way nor act in reliance on it and notify the sender immediately.
    Please note that the BBC monitors e-mails sent or received.
    Further communication will signify your consent to this.

  • Comment number 67.

    Judging by the post match analysis, the BBC failed big time in not having a balanced audience. By attempting to destroy Griffin, they have only whipped up the natural British sympathy for the underdog.

    Dimbleby was POOR - the mainstream parties should have been put under the same pressure to explain why they continue to ignore growing concerns within our society. By doing so they have allowed Griffin to gain considerable ground.

    I am not racist, but like many REAL people, I want the influx stopped, unless we have genuine skill shortages. Equally, any immigrant who commits a serious crime should be deported, irrespective of human rights legislation.

  • Comment number 68.

    I stayed up to watch QT in the hope that I could laugh at Mr Griffin, instead I was treated to some weird behaviour from Jack Straw and a BBC presenter who lost control of his programme.

    As for the audience they were a disgrace, I have seen better behaved football fans baiting the referee.

    The BBC as seems there want handled Mr Griffins appearance on QT very poorly, the show got so bad that I turned over to watch Newsnight to find out what was really happening in the UK (i.e Postal Strike and the awful economic figures), I imagine that along with Mr Hain I was not the only person who gave up on this specific episode of QT.

  • Comment number 69.

    The public guide the producers on what is debated? That isn't what I saw!! Many questions were stopped part way through so the BBC could decide what thread was to be discussed!! The audience was clearly picked in an attempt to bully Griffin. Surely if Democracy was being portrayed then there would have been a BNP advocate?

    Clearly what should have taken the whole debate was the fact that the reason the BNP got their 2 seats was due to the failure of the mainstream parties. BNP received no more votes than during the last election, they simply were up against poorer competition and why is that? Griffin doesn't care how the BNP is portrayed to the public, afterall how can a group of facists (facists using the great Winston Churchill on their website, the man whom led the world against facism and the tyranny of the Nazis - irony at its best!!) be portrayed well? But on the other hand the three main parties do care which means they are too scared to confront MAJOR issues that the British Public deeply care about and the major one being immigration. The country won't think you have racist policies just because you discuss it and put forward solid and practical remedies to the problems that YOU have bestowed upon us all!! If you want someone to blame for the rise of the BNP then look no further than Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems. You can't hide from immigration much longer because if you do, who knows how far Griffin can go? So stand up and make something happen. It's time someone put the Great back in to GREAT BRITAIN!!

  • Comment number 70.

    We live in a democratic country where free speech is held in high regard, where people who are elected by their peers represent those people in parliament or in Brussels - so why is it that when Nick Griffin, a democratically elected member of the European Parliament wishes to speak on national tv, it causes so much debate? I do not agree with his views, but i will give him the courtesy of allowing him to speak without shouting him down because it is his right to speak.
    The Question Time Programme on Thursday night was a farce. Nick Griffin was subjected to a total lack of respect from the other panelists, who were not interested in giving their parties views on the subjects debated, but just wanted to focus on race issues and call Mr Griffin a liar - which coming from a bunch of politicians is a joke. Nick Griffin should have been given the chance to put his views across in a civilised manner and if the public do not agree with them, them we will not vote for him and his party - I do not need Jack Straw and co to tell me who to vote for, I have my own mind and can decide for myself if someone is not telling me the truth.

  • Comment number 71.

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

  • Comment number 72.

    you're right when you say "Jack Straw was questioned over government immigration policy" - just a shame he didn't answer and wasn't pressed for an answer.

  • Comment number 73.

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

  • Comment number 74.

    Move on! There are more important things in life
    And to worry about which person said what is not one on them

  • Comment number 75.

    Reading through these comments, it is plain that there are many ignorant people out there who have never watched Question Time before or who have generally given little thought to social issues. The type of questioning Nick Griffin received is similar to what others have received when in the 'hot seat' and I think the moderator was absolutely correct in trying to get behind Griffin's moderate mask to find what the guy really thought.

    As for people stating that they have decided to vote BNP on the basis of the show, I hope the reason is down to concerns with immigration and not some deep-seated racist view. The BNP is a racist party and should never be voted for as part of a 'protest' vote.

  • Comment number 76.

    @perfectbluelauren
    "Griffin is a legend! he is only intrested in makin britain better and saying what other people are thinkin but too scared to say"

    Most likely too scared because the intellectual bankruptcy of their views will be shown up, as was Griffin's when he started on about what he deemed the indigenous population of Britain. And then the Holocaust. And the KKK...

    To any reasonably intelligent and sane person, Griffin should be an embarrassment. He should have had you squirming in your seats.

    That he has 'apparently' gained support from his appearance on QT is not a sign of his intellectual strength. It's a sign of the public's intellectual weakness. (Anyone offended by that statement should perhaps stick to their favourite maxim that political correctness should not trump honesty.)

    You don't have to agree with the main parties' immigration policies to recognise Griffin's party for the sinister joke that it is. Oh sure, it's easy (and fashionable) to glibly dismiss Labour as "just the same, or worse" - but it's intellectually dishonest. Labour are an authoritarian, tired, mess of a party. But to downplay the huge moral difference between the main parties and the BNP is to delude yourself - and it's a mistake that may one day cost us all dearly.

    As for this great myth that everyone's too scared to talk about immigration - what tired and tedious exaggeration this is. Sure, a few people might be too quick to shout racist, a few organisations might be too quick to moderate comments, but other than that, you'll find everywhere from the pubs to the press (including BBC platforms like HYS) are full of comments about immigration, and outrageous generalisations about Muslims.

    The trouble with the silent majority is that, too often, they are neither.

  • Comment number 77.

    I really don't understand people's reaction to this, we have no right to not allow Nick Griffin, an elected MEP to speak, as well as to take responsibility for what he says. However we also have to realise that most of the UK dislikes Nick Griffin. Is it really surprising that in a large audience we have people who are offended enough by him too speak up and ask difficult questions. Now is it really surprising that there were more than one? All ethnic groups feel threatened and offended by Nick Griffin, is it really surprising they had questions for Mr Griffin? Is it really surprising that when the BNP is getting so much attention that they get the audience focus?

    Personally I may be wrong, but the only real difference between voting for UKIP and the BNP is that the BNP has always been racist in the past. It erks me that people vote for them over UKIP just because Mr Griffin dances in controversy.

    It's a sad day for the impartiality of the BBC that national opinion is against them for putting a controversial figure in front of an audience of mixed opinion. They might not do the right thing again and let him appear due to the controversy made.

  • Comment number 78.

    I was disgusted with Question Time... I have always believed it to be an unbiased programme. Whatever your feelings about Nick Griffin he was not given the chance to speak for himself.All we heard was "quotes" written by the media. David Dimbleby was a disgrace.. I was of the belief he was there in a non-judgemental position .. he shamed himself
    Whether you believe in Nick Griffins views or not he was invited onto the programme and out of respect should have been allowed to shoot himself in his own foot !!! The "hand picked" audience only helped him to look like a victim. HOW STUPID YOU ARE BBC.
    I had/have a certain sympathy with his views on immigration... but the sleeping giant has now been awakened and his extremist views will now rally a great deal of support .

  • Comment number 79.

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

  • Comment number 80.

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

  • Comment number 81.

    'But amid all the normal unpredictability, one question remains the same every week. Did it work? And, as is the answer to everything with Question Time, you decide.'

    Well, Gavin, reading the comments on your blog it's clear that we have decided, and we've decided that this was anything but a normal Question Time. No matter what lengths you might go to to deny it, this was an out-and-out attack on one member of the panel by the audience, the other panellists and even the chairman. As far as I'm aware that isn't normal for Question Time - or at least I hope it isn't. No, Gavin, you in your ivory BBC tower might think you're above reproach - we don't.

  • Comment number 82.

    Nick Griffin wasn't bullied, and Single(ish) topic programmes of Question Time are not paticularly rare, and as for the audience...there were at least a couple of cheers for Nick Griffin, so they weren't all NG haters. there is no reason - based on the previous 30 yrs of QT - to believe that the editors comment above is anything other than the truth.

    The main problem was that Nick griffin who is usually very aggressive and a lot more articulate when being interviewed when surrounded by his own people, seemed to be overcome by nerves on the show. I have never seen a politician so obviously nervous and so incapable of expressing themselves properly. The questioning was perfectly normal...his responses were that of a scared bully hauled up in front of the headmaster to explain his actions. He duly crumbled.

    I too felt sorry for Nick griffin, but only because he appeared to be such a sad and lonely character.

    For those who think NG was bullied on the programme, watch next weeks programme and see how the audience, panelists and David dimbleby "attack" the government politician who will sit on the panel. The government representative will be relentlessly attacked and questioned...and many of the NG sympathisers here will be cheering and jeering, as they cheer and jeer every week. but when Nick Griffin is on....you start to cry...why...???




  • Comment number 83.

  • Comment number 84.


    The real question is: will the public believe the editors' riposte?

    And from one who watches Question time regularly, the simple
    answer is 'no'.

  • Comment number 85.

    Without sounding harsh, dont talk nonsense, the audience was clearly selected to include many people of ethnic minorites (as was the panel by the way, how obvious was that!?). I think I saw 2 or 3 BNP supporters in the audience, not exactly a 6% share now is it?

    The one thing the BBc did right here was to allow Nick Griffin a place on the show. The correct neutral action.

  • Comment number 86.

    I was hoping that, given enough rope, Mr Griffin would hang himself.

    Unfortunately, while Mr Griffin did everything he could to do just that, time and again the rope was snatched away from him before he had the opportunity to use it. He was barely allowed to speak and every time he tried to make a point he was interrupted.

    Question Time should reflect democracy by allowing all to freely speak. On this occasion it failed, and the result, however unintentional, is increased support for Mr Griffin in his role of "harried underdog".

    FJ

  • Comment number 87.

    David Dimbleby, in my view, did not chair the debate brilliantly. I think he forgets he is not a member of the panel and should not express any views.

  • Comment number 88.

    The BBC yet again shoot themselves in the foot by treating the public as imbeciles.
    Another protest vote for the BNP.

  • Comment number 89.

    As I beleive it, the "Normal" format of Question Time is that someone in the audience asks a question and the panelists answer the point in turn, everyone is allowed to have their say and a debate is had. On Thursdays show, the audience asked a question and the panelists answered until Nick Griffin gave his views, then everyone forgot the question and called Nick Griffin a liar and brought up some alleged quote from 2002 and called him a racist.
    That is not how the show runs week in week out.

  • Comment number 90.

    Seemed like standard Question Time to me. If Nick Griffin was expecting to go on the show and talk about Postal Strikes, Afghanistan, and the Recession he has clearly never seen the show. David Dimbleby has never let guests get away with contradicting themselves to pander to the audience or the populist view and always has quotes to prove his point, this time was no different.

    If he wanted to do an interview where he could avoid answering for him and his parties racist and homophobic views perhaps he should have arranged an interview with GMTV!

  • Comment number 91.

    I don't see why the Beeb shouldn't have had Nick Griffin on Question Time. And if the audience was filled with people who disagree with him, that doesn't mean they were all liberals since Nick Griffin holds some fairly non-mainstream views after all. And if he claims to be a democratic politician he needs to get used to heckling without running to the Daily Mail to whine like a little baby.

  • Comment number 92.

    Looking at the 'Have Your Say' blogs on the BNP a few common points occur.
    Most people are frustrated by the Political Correctness we have in the UK but are unable to do anything about it. The mainstream parties avoid these issues. The BNP seem to at least address them, much to the bloggers' and voters' relief.
    For example: Why don't we fly the Union Flag from schools, police stations and local government buildings (as the tricolor is flown in France)? This would obviate the need for the BNP to "steal" our national symbols.
    Give us pride to be British. We speak English, don't translate NHS and other documents into other languages (even the Welsh are finding it too expensive to have their government documents in English and Welsh!).
    Sorry Gavin Allen, but like the mainstream parties, in my humble opinion you appear to be out of touch with public feelings too.

  • Comment number 93.

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

  • Comment number 94.

    and to make matters worse, the BBC cant even be bothered to respond to the 100 or so complaints about the programme.
    All it has done is put a small statement on the complaints website and then emailed it out to those who complained.
    In my complaint I asked 2 specific questions neither of which was answered by the rather vapid piece I recieved.
    The BBC should be ashamed of what happened on Thursday night. It was shown up for being the left wing mouthpiece it has become and not the impartial broadcaster I was once so proud to defend whilst a serving soldier.

  • Comment number 95.

    It may not be the most politically correct or polite way to conduct a debate, but in this country political debate is most definitely adversarial, and while those in the EU parliament may be prepared to sit quietly and listen to the likes of Nick Griffin, thankfully the audience and panel on QT weren't.
    Why should anyone expect otherwise? If Nick Griffin isn't upto a bit of heckling how would he ever hope to survive the House of Commons? He may be an intellectual giant amongst the kind of morons who are placated by his brand of bigoted drivel but thankfully he was found wanting against an average London audience.
    As for the audience being unrepresentative? have any of these posters been to the city?

  • Comment number 96.

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

  • Comment number 97.

    Let's be honest, those who say the BBC/Question Time has convinced them to vote BNP were probably always going to. Claiming that a TV programme has pushed them to it is ludicrous.

    Griffin had every right to be on Question Time, but as the vast majority abhor him and his party, it was no surprise that the vast majority of the audience were against him.

    It may well be true that the mainstream parties are not addressing people's concerns about immigration, but that should be an issue for another time (with a BNP member on the panel perhaps). This episode was about Griffin and his record.

  • Comment number 98.

    Personally, despite the first post, I feel that Chris Huhes performed very well on QT, this despite the fact that I am a Tory by nature, and next year a voter.
    I got what i wanted out of it - NG getting shown the door by both the panelists and the audience.
    He should have come on QT and focusing on him was the right thing to do.

    In a way I thank him because as the audience numbers show vast numbers of first time viewers watched the session.
    This includes many of my friends who have never watched it before or even shown any attention to politics - even more interestingly there was a debate about it afterwards over FB. Hopefully this interest will remain.

  • Comment number 99.

    The commentary of executive editor, Mr. Gavin, concerning the treatment of Mr. Nick Griffin on Question Time is dismissive and condescending. In America the corporate media deny third party candidates ANY platform with the twin parties of corporate capitalism so that every other political voice (right or left) is delegitimized. The BBC has performed the next worst thing. It has allowed a minority party spokesman (BNP) to appear on a nationally televised program but has done so in such a blatantly manipulated environment that the event was little more than an orchestrated assault on Mr. Griffin and the political positions of his party. The closest parallel in American TV to the BBC Nick Griffin appearance would be the Jerry Springer Show. Is the BBC genuinely asserting that it did not hand pick the audience in that crowd - all palpably hostile to Mr. Griffin's views? At one point a black person in the audience asserts that the "majority of people in this audience find your views disgusting," as if his views are mainstream. If so, why did the BNP receive 1 million votes. Quite obviously, there is an "audience" of Brits who believe that the BNP solidly represents their discontents and their aspirations. A majority of Americans find the Democrats and Republicans and a majority of Brits the same with Labor and Tories but there is no political voice for them and when the voice is permitted, corporate media like the BBC strangle it. Even the pre-program events outside the BBC studio looked like a "demonstration" staged in Hollywood. The police scuffling with demonstrators and yelling "Get back," as though they were playing patty cakes. That is definitely not how the police have behaved in any demonstration I have ever been to. Usually there are ambulances waiting to take away injured demonstrators. The BBC should admit its clear bias and manipulation of the Griffin appearance and allow him or another spokesman from the BNP along with other spokesmen from other political parties to have a genuine debate of the issues. Is the BBC that fearful of free speech?

  • Comment number 100.

    I too complained about QT, however I specifically asked for no reply.

    I hate the mealy mouthed PC drivel that is offered as a response.

    Question Time was NOT the same as usual.
    It was a rant against one man.

    I understand the Sun newspaper has asked if any of the audience can be identified, exhorting people to phone in.

    Would'nt it be funny if some of the audience turned out to be activists of one party or another ?
    Or actors?
    Or , heaven forfend !, BBBC employees?

 

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