Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

BNP on question time

by Lloyd on 22.10.09
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The argument that the BNP are a legal party is a pretty dubious one as Bruno said. They are banned in the Police force, the Prison Service and a number of other professions. This is not a “legal party” in that scene that is should be treated as other parties. In the latest court case the BNP were shown to be breaking the law while banning and discriminating against Black and Asian people – again proof that they are not just another legal party.

The BBC are in a difficult position now, because the if broadcast the BNP will be able to use the programme to show that they are a legitimate party – despite the court case and the facts! However, if the BBC now refuse they will use this as an argument that they are being repressed.

The BBC doesn’t have the right to ban parties and people are quite right to defend the idea of freedom of press but the choice to put BNP on Question Time is seriously flawed in a number of areas ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/15/bnp-question-time-bbc-griffin). Question Time is one of the flag ship political performance shows. By this I mean the Question Time allows the guest to play up to the audience, it allows politicians to say sound bites and its semi-live formate (the programme it pre-recorded but usually little edited) also shows a lack of editorial control.

If the BBC truly wanted to debate with the BNP, show them up for what they are and make people realise that they are bigots (which by the way wont happen – but ill say more about that later) then they should put them on Newsnight or another “serious”programme where ideas can actually be challenged rather than drowned out by shouts or applauds.

And finally, this concept that debating with the debatable, with the unthinkable will somehow show them up for what they are is just not a concept that is based in reality(or History – please please please give me an example when they facisits, anywhere in the world have been “debated” our of politics!, no they have been fought out of politics) I agree that we shouldn’t ignore the BNP, this will make then stronger, but by treating them like another partner to debate with another group to make concessions with will make all of our politics a little more racist. One cant help feel that the argument of debate and reconciliation is abit like Mr Chamberlain coming back from Germany with a peace of paper saying ” its alight folks they have promised not to do anything nasty” we can sit back only less than 5 years later to be in all out war and millions of Jews, Roma, Disabled, Gays etc being lined up to be murdered.

The BNP should be challenged, they should be argued, but Question Time is the wrong place to do that. The argument should take place in the courts, in the streets until the illegal, racist and fascist party are off the streets. That means dealing with poverty, inequity and the issues that matter and not giving them a lovely stage with armed police protection.

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Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

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