Nick Griffin's grin

Someone had obviously coached Nick Griffin for his Question Time debut, and the key advice given, was obviously to smile – whatever. Media trainers will always give such advice but they may have to rethink it. Mr Griffin’s attempt to present himself and the BNP as reasonable by hideously grinning throughout Question Time served only to make the British public see him even more clearly as a racist, homophobic, bigot.

And that’s good – the BNP is the appropriate party for a racist or a homophobe to vote for. On the doorstep, when I come across the thankfully rare occurrence of an obvious racist – I always say that I don’t want their vote.

But the BNP seats at the European table didn’t all come from racists. And the Government and local councils have not addressed some of the issues that drive those who feel disenfranchised into the arms of the BNP because they feel they are getting ignored or believe they delivered a raw deal.

The BNP and their ilk will always feed off of those who are disgruntled, disenfranchised and ignored. A vacuum in terms of political attention provides the perfect feeding ground for those who feed off of that discontent. Additionally, where there is a scarcity of resources – the extra pressures brought by high levels of immigration and asylum seeking means extra pressure on public services – school places, health services and housing key amongst them in those areas. 

The Government does not give local councils the full costs of bearing the weight of new immigrants and asylum seekers – so it does add pressures. If you take social housing in Haringey – for which the demand outstrips provision by such huge proportions that my surgeries are always populated by those who are desperately in need of housing. And yes – there is very occasionally ‘racism’ towards those who are perceived as arriving in this country with lots of children and immediately getting a house against those who are on the housing list for years and get nowhere. The stories are legion. The Equality and Human Rights Commission did an investigative piece of work to establish whether this tale of the ‘newly arrived’ jumping the housing queue was true – and found it was not. What is needed is more housing, and to publish transparently who gets what accommodation so that the suspicion can be allayed.

Back to Question Time. Yes – the BBC was absolutely right to invite Nick Griffin on to the program. It had no choice with the two MEPs having been elected. However, I don’t expect that those two seats at the European Parliament warrant more than a visit to Question Time once every few years if that – proportionally. If the rating s for last night persuade QT to offer that platform any more often than is proportionally deserved then they will lose the moral high ground which they claimed for giving the BNP that exposure this time round.

And media trainers will have to go back to the drawing board – as ‘smile and the world smiles with you’  just didn’t do it for the BNP.

0 thoughts on “Nick Griffin's grin

  1. Good to see you adopting a liberal stance wrt to Nick Griffin. Far better to let those with odious views make fools of themselves than to deny them a platform to do so and thereby hand them the moral high ground. Of course, main stream politicians still need to address the issue of why so many feel so badly let down by politicians that they choose to vote BNP.

  2. Pingback: BBC1 Question Time: your Lib Dem blogs reader

  3. The BBC was absolutely right to let Nick Griffin on. The veils of censorship that allowed a mystique to envelop both he and his party have been stripped away and now his banality is there for all to see. And as Hannah Arendt reminded us with her great phrase ‘the banality of evil’, the banal side of his character makes him no less malevolent. As virulent as he is vacuous his grinning made him look like the human equivalent of a laughing hyena. Overall despite his laughing I think he was more laughed at. Any gravitas the BNP lay claim to was shown to be fictitious by his inept performance.

  4. Very surprised Lynne didn’t highlight the performance of Chris Huhne. Yes he didn’t do brilliantly but was pretty much the only one to come out of the building with his reputation intact.

    The show, whilst at least a victory for democracy did decend into farce at times, the BBC changed the format of the show in order to attack Griffin to the maximum and it really wasn’t nearly as useful or educational as it should have been as a result. The ultimate test of fairness and impartiality is the way you treat awful parties such as the BNP, and overall the BBC failed to give Griffin fair treatment.

    As Diane Abbott pointed out, such a lack of balance ultimately 100% plays into the hands of the evil BNP and makes them more electable not less as they can claim to be the victims (perhaps even somewhat legitimately). If the BBC were going to allow him on (which unlike Abbot I think they should) it should just have been just like any other Question Time discussing topical issues of the day. It was notable Griffin put in a much weaker performance towards the end when discussing wider issues such as Gately then he did on many of the race and immigration related questions (despite the fact he was under far less attack).

    To be fair, perhaps this show marks a new Question Time format where the most unpleasant and dishonest people in politics are deliberately put up against a panel and set of questions intended to expose and counter their dishonest, hateful and discriminatory views as fully as possible. If so, then fair enough and lets hope it continues.
    I heard htey’ll have Harman back on soon. Given how she tries to stir up hatred based on gender and is as sexist as Griffin is racist then one wonders if she’ll be subject to the same treatment? I’d suggest a panel made up of the following:

    1. Jolly Stanesby from Fathers 4 Justice, or Matt O’Connor, or that guy who was jailed for waving at his kids.
    2. That really rather excellent woman from the English Collective of Prostitutes (don’t know her name sorry).
    3. Ann Widdecombe.
    4. Any Lib Dem who’s against sexism and gender feminism, e.g. Jo Swinson
    5. And just to really rub it in, someone from road safety charity BRAKE!

    As with last night’s episode, the F4J member should be seated right next to Harman.

    The topics for discussion should include:
    – Family breakdown
    – Lack of help for male victims of domestic violence (and their children)
    – Female sentencing discount.
    – How to help victims of false rape allegations
    – How the feminised education system is failing boys
    – The recent news on the governments incredibly dodgy prostitution statistics ( perhaps linked to dodgy pay gaps stats) and they’ve enable the passage of recent bills.
    – Why Harman thinks it would be funny if men flee the country due to her policies
    – The lack of significant punishment/deterrent for those speeding and driving dangerously, particularly in terms of repeat offenders.

  5. I’m surprised you fell for the EHRC report on housing because it overlooked one very simple conundrum, namely that if I am housed in say Manchester and decide I want to move to Birmingham, then I will be deemed to have made myself voluntarily homeless and the council will not be obliged to house me – unless I can show a local connection: i.e. a job, family etc.

    But if I am from Kiev, Sarajevo, Lagos etc and try the same trick then I can live where ever I want, because I will be deemed to be homeless. Indeed no check will be made as to my housing situation in the place I came from.

    And let’s not get into the issue of the increasing numbers of signs I see in Polish for accomodation that have at the bottom ‘No Dogs, No DHSS.’

    The plain truth of the matter is this. Before the expansion of the EU, you could pretty much pick and choose social housing – certainly in this area – and could get rehoused in a matter of months. My family have currently been on the waiting list three years, and are stuck in a situation in which we have a toddler, and another on the way, live in an mice infested flat up 40 stairs, with no lift – and live in fear that the missus will have a miscarriage hauling the pushchair up that stairs – to add to the still birth we have already suffered. And one only has to look at the OFSTED reports of schools to see to whom the houses in the area we want to move to are being let by the way in which the percentage of children for whom English is a second language is increasing.

    But hey! It’s easier to bang on about Nick Griffin’s smile, ignore the reality, and hide behind the obvious bogus statistics that this governemnt is so famous.

    Get real.

    Oh and while I’m on the subject of reality, why are you so fond of ‘equality’ but fail to see the inequality of Mr Freud’s proposals for invalidity benefit – based as they are on bigotry of the worse kind. For instance his assertion that the beneifit should be based on levels before care in the community, the rise in drug usage, the depression brought on by increased debt levels etc. It’s all very well to whitter on about inequality but the simple fact is that the mental health provision under the NHS is woefully inadequate, yet for some reason people are astounded that the levels of disablity is so high.

    But then it is always overlooked that Hitler started his genocide on the disabled.

  6. Transfatty – the EHRC work is practically the only researched bit of work in this area – so has to stand in that capacity. However, from my experience in this area as I say in the post – ‘stories are legion’. It is too long for a blog post but this is one of the areas I have studied and written about quite extensively. If you get a chance to read ‘Britain after Blair’ – I wrote a chapter on race relations and it is mainly about housing allocation. My thesis being that the ‘needs’ based allocation has resulted in a perversion of allocation against the ‘entitlement’ of those who have lived and been in the system for years. My proposal is about rebalancing the award of ‘points’ (the system used in most authorities for allocation) so that the ‘entitlement’ of the ‘already here’s’ is improved. The lines of division in Haringey are about the ‘entitlement’ of the ‘already heres’ against the needs of the ‘newly arrived’. Hence also my proposal that housing points and allocation should be transparent and published. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of friends of housing officers getting accomodated, bribery and so on. But when I ask the person bringing me the story for names and addresses so I can pursue the allegation – not once has anyone been willing to get involved. Anyway – the point is – your family situation demonstrates exactly the situation that causes people to feel neglected and that they are being treated unfairly – and that situation is a friend to the BNP. As to mental health- I totally agree and do campaign on many mental health issues.

  7. Are you aware that the YouGov data on BNP support may well be wrong following BNP infiltration?

    (WARNING – clicking on this link will add you as one of the 1000s who have flocked to look at the BNP web site following QT.)

    BTW, I took a screen cap of it in case they take it down.

    Also worth a look this morning, to see that the BNP spammers really don’t know when to stop: .

    If the brave new BNP world doesn’t accept the monarchy, church, army, media, (etc…) who’s going to be left?

    Surely everybody with half a brain must now realise that every single comment board in the country is being spammed to death by a few 100 BNP supporters?

  8. Agostinho Videira .
    The goverment are not treating the asylum seeker right was granted indefinite leave to remain outside the Immigration Rules on the basis of length of residence in UK when I came I was living in hostel in clapham common in kings avenue in hostel i used to lived with people from diffrent countries some of the people I used to lived with they was disable they had mental health I was passing in oxford street I saw a guy who used to live in hostel sleeping the street if the goverment are not procteting them what this people may do they will became criminal because they don’t have no other way home office they don’t really care they don’t respond the letters they try to make you feel down untill you get tired and ask them to send you home I been in UK since I was 14 years thanks God Lynne Featherstone you help me with my Immigration matter if wasn’t for you I could be in the street sleeping.