Leading article: The untalented Mr Griffin

Related Topics

So the appearance of the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, on the BBC's Question Time has come and gone. What has it left behind, aside from several hundred frustrated protesters who failed to stop it from happening and Mr Griffin's complaint to the BBC that he faced a "lynch mob"?

There was, rightly, much argument about whether the BBC should have invited Mr Griffin to participate. Like it or not, however – and we dislike it intensely – the British National Party is a legal entity; it puts up candidates for election. It now has two legitimately elected MEPs.

In these circumstances, it would have been wrong for the BBC to treat the BNP differently from other minority parties, whose leaders and elected representatives appear routinely on the whole panoply of political programmes. To have excluded them from Question Time any longer would have fuelled the claims of the BNP and its supporters that, although they play by the rules of the constitutional game, the BBC and the political establishment do not. It would have compounded the BNP's sense of victimhood.

That said, it was probably inevitable – while patently undesirable – that the programme turned into a Question Time like no other. Not only was there a throng of protesters outside – probably more numerous and rowdy than the BBC and the police had bargained for – but the composition of the panel and studio audience was tailored to the BNP leader's participation.

And when Mr Griffin complained about having to face a "lynch mob" and being "howled down" by the audience, regrettably, he had a point. There was a hectoring and bullying aspect to the show that pitted the other four guests, and the majority of the audience, against him. That might be a fairly accurate representation of British opinion in relation to the BNP, but it is not what happens when other minority parties, such as the Greens or UKIP, are on the panel. Nor, when, say, UKIP appears is three-quarters of the time devoted to Europe. Mr Griffin and the BNP dominated the proceedings.

For anyone tempted to support the BNP, Mr Griffin's poor response to pressure might make them think again. As a politician, he was not canny enough to turn his position to his advantage; he could not deploy wit in his defence, nor did he have the confidence to protest to David Dimbleby – as he could have done – that he had come to talk about policies, not take a beating. But the way in which he was pilloried may have inspired more sympathy than he or the BNP deserve.

When the hour was up, viewers might have learnt something about Mr Griffin's strengths and, mostly, weaknesses, but they would not have been much clearer about the party's policies. That was a failure of the programme and why, not without misgivings, we say that the BNP needs to become a regular feature of political discussions. It is not hectoring or mystique, but familiarity that breeds contempt.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas