Letters Special: An audience with a racist

We asked for your views on how the media should treat the BNP, and you gave them. Last week's interview with BNP leader Nick Griffin by Peter Victor produced an enormous response. This is a sample of what you had to say

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Should the BNP be given a platform? Of course they should. Despite my despising their views, we live in a democracy. If it is not illegal for the BNP to stand for election, they must be afforded similar access to the media that other parties enjoy; it is more dangerous for them to operate "underground", as martyrs of a non-inclusive "democracy", which would obviously make the term meaningless.
The Independent on Sunday has it exactly right – by holding them up to greater scrutiny, the electorate will see what the true aims of the BNP really are, underneath their current denials of abject racism, and just how ugly their attitude is to a liberal, tolerant British society.


Diane Messias via email

Like it or not, the BNP is a legal democratic party that represents a movement of democratic nationalism. They are neither fascist nor Nazi. The framework for open debate has been so skewed against them that almost everything they say is taken to be bigoted, which is if you think about it a dangerous thing. Despite all the lies and intimidation nearly a million people voted BNP. There is a clear need for a democratic nationalist party in this country. For the purpose of this thread, I will tell you that I am a BNP supporter. I would describe myself as well-educated and my knuckles are a surprisingly long distance from the ground.
Tim Phillips via email

I think it's essential to expose this vile party's hypocrisy. Its leader says that the white population of London's East End have been abandoned by the liberal elite, as they've been swamped by immigrants. A similar area is Meifod in Powys, in rural Wales. A mere 43 per cent of its population at the last census was born in Wales. The native people complain of being swamped by incomers who share neither their language, culture, traditions nor political or religious inclinations. They're pushed off the property ladder by outsiders who care not one iota about their way of life. This is where Londoner Nick Griffin lives, still unable to utter a word of his host country's language, in a posh house the natives could only dream of being able to afford. This is where he leads his totally English way of life, oblivious to the damage he and his ilk are doing to the indigenous people's centuries-old culture and traditions. He's an obnoxious hypocrite. He should go far in the world of politics.
Gwilym Prydderch, Cardiff

It seems to be turning into quite a habit in the media to take a "give 'em enough rope" angle with the BNP, but they are presently refusing to hang themselves. Ask some tough questions about how their ideas would actually work, how the NHS would function without immigrant workers, ask Nick Griffin definitively if he still denies the Holo- caust happened, and their house of cards would fall down very quickly. Resorting to wondering whether Mr Griffin was bullied by black children at school was a lazy and weak manner in which to conclude an interview that I am sure the BNP will be pleased with, not least because of the photo opportunity of their leader out for drinks with a black man from a broadsheet.
Keith Williams, Walthamstow

My husband and two sons work in banking, and most of my neighbours work in the public sector. We all vote BNP. We do not hate anyone, but what has happened over the past 40 years has been unprecedented. We have seen this country change beyond recognition since the Second World War. Yes, immigrants made an important contribution to this country. And this would have been fine had it been carefully monitored. Instead, we have allowed thousands upon thousands of people in from the Third World without a thought for the consequences. We now have no-go areas because of the violent crime that has been imported. Our infrastructure is creaking under the sheer scale of it. If it wasn't for the BNP, do you really think this would be up for discussion?
Sylvia Howard via email

The BNP has hijacked the Union flag and they dress their xenophobic hatred up as patriotism. I feel there is a need for interviews such as Peter Victor's, but also for physical demonstrations to remind the BNP that to most decent citizens of the UK their odious ideas are utterly repugnant.
Neil McCart, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

In both Bavaria and Austria, right-populist parties wooed voters in the late Eighties: in Bavaria, the Republicans under Schönhuber, in Austria, the Freedom Party under Haider. Despite initial successes, a decade later the Republicans were back to being a fringe party, while the Freedom Party advanced to being the second-strongest party in Austria (though not any more). Besides the fact that Haider was extremely populist and probably a more talented politician, a major difference between the two situations was how the media treated the two parties. In Austria, the Freedom Party managed to shock and startle press and TV into non-stop coverage, whereas in Bavaria state-controlled media largely refused to give the Republicans a platform. (And similarly for Le Pen in France.) Nick Griffin is right when he thinks "the more successful we become, the more opponents will have to co-opt our policies". For a small party, media coverage is fantastic publicity, no matter whether it is positive or negative.
Dr Kreil via email

If you look past the race policies of the BNP, close inspection of what they stand for chimes completely with what the left-wing white working class, who have been abandoned by their Labour Party, want. While Labour politicians are totally at ease with people becoming filthy rich (and themselves getting richer than the people they purport to represent) they are seen on the streets of their constituencies as being class traitors. If you are working, and on a low income, and your party, the Labour Party, changes the tax laws so that you lose the 10p in the pound tax rate, where are you going to place your vote? Logic dictates that you will go to the closest party to the Labour Party – and that, for the time being, is the BNP.
Peter Gompertz, Melbourne, Australia

Drowning out the voice of the BNP is anti-democratic and what I would expect to happen in a fascist state. It is my experience that when people try to silence a political group it is because they cannot win with cogent argument. If you think the BNP is so bad, give them a platform and let them destroy themselves. Or are you so arrogant as to think that people are not able to make up their own minds? I think that's called censorship. Whoops, we are going down a slippery slope.
Colin Rumsey via email

I found it interesting that many of Nick Griffin's opinions, for example his view that repatriation back to a country of origin would help the country where the immigrants are originally from, are often now made in the mainstream media. However, one thing I would like to say about Victor's otherwise excellent interview is that the BNP is actually racist in its constitution: even if I agreed with BNP opinions (which I don't), I would not be able to join it because of my Indian ethnic origin. These membership requirements, more than anything, reveal the true nature of the BNP.
Shouvik Datta, Orpington, Kent

Have your say

Letters to the Editor, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF; email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk (no attachments, please); fax: 020 7005 2627; online: independent.co.uk/dayinapage/2009/June/21

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