Socialist Worker

Keep BNP off Question Time

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2173

A BNP supporter spotted at the violent EDL protest (Pic:» Guy Smallman )

A BNP supporter spotted at the violent EDL protest (Pic: » Guy Smallman)

The BBC’s decision to invite Nick Griffin, the leader of the fascist British National Party (BNP), onto next week’s Question Time is continuing to cause outrage.

Anti-fascists around the country are mobilising for major protests outside the BBC in west London, where the show is due to be filmed on Thursday of next week.

A picket of the studio will start at 9am, while the national Unite Against Fascism (UAF) demonstration is to begin at 5pm.

Allowing Nazis who want an “all-white Britain” onto TV and radio programmes simply gives them a platform to spout their racist filth.

This was shown when the BBC interviewed two prominent BNP members – Mark Collett and Joseph Barber – on its Radio 1 Newsbeat programme.

Collett and Barber claimed, without challenge, that England footballer Ashley Cole was not “ethnically British” and spoke of him “coming to this country” – even though Cole was born in London.

Pressure is growing on the BBC over this decision, with the Mail on Sunday’s front page headline reading “Why did BBC invite BNP on Radio 1 to insult Ashley Cole?”

Former Labour cabinet minister Peter Hain wrote in the Guardian, “This episode underlines the corporation’s shaky handling of the BNP.

“Question Time will be showcasing the BNP on a panel as a legitimate, respectable, democratic political party, when it is nothing of the kind.”

Griffin’s invite is causing concern among BBC workers.

An NUJ union rep based at Television Centre told Socialist Worker, “There is disquiet and anger among some staff. But the concept of ‘no platform’ – not giving Nazis airtime to spout their views – is not well understood at the BBC.”

“Many workers don’t accept that the BNP would use Question Time in an insincere way – as a tool to gain legitimacy and respectability.

“There needs to be a huge public reaction, which helps open the eyes of BBC workers to the reality of the BNP.

“The statement by the Bectu union general secretary Gerry Morrissey that it will back any of its members – the BBC’s technical staff – who refuse to work on the programme is very helpful.”

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