While most of the mainstream media have pored endlessly over the details of last night’s Question Time, in a bid to unravel whether it went better or worse than expected for fascist leader Nick Griffin, a simple point has been missed—he should not have been on there at all.
The bottom line is that whichever panellist squirmed the most, and whatever rhetorical blows the audience may or may not have delivered, the programme gave an unprecedented platform to the fascist British National Party (BNP).
The very fact that Griffin was sitting on the Question Time panel elevated him to the level of mainstream politics—and helped him along the road towards the respectability he craves.
Griffin has closely followed—and attempted to copy—the career of French Nazi Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Le Pen’s appearance on a flagship current affairs show in 1984 is widely recognised as a turning point in his ability to enter the mainstream of French political life.
Griffin clearly hopes to emulate this.
The most effective challenge to the BNP last night was outside the Question Time studio—where thousands of anti-fascists thronged the streets and stormed the BBC.
The protest set out with two aims—to make sure that this Question Time would not be business as usual and to stop Griffin appearing.
It certainly achieved the first aim—as Question Time could only take place under siege conditions, defended by hundreds of police. And the mass movement that demanded no platform for fascists clearly shifted the terms of the debate in the run up to the programme.
The protest nearly stopped Griffin—it certainly delayed and diverted him. One group of protesters temporarily broke into Television Centre and many more came close.
The militancy and size of the protest showed both the breadth and the ferocity of the opposition to the Nazi BNP. Last night’s Question Time was not the end of the battle—thousands more people have been drawn into taking a stand against the BNP.