Like the author of this article, I reluctantly agree that it is right to allow the Leader of the BNP representative to appear on Question Time. He may have been elected as an MEP via an unfair electoral system but elected he was nonetheless. The question of the article is who should the Conservatives put up? My initial choice was David Davis but I also think that the likes of William Hague, James Cleverly, James Brokenshire, Baroness Warsi & Chris Heaton-Harris would do a good job.
If there is one point that the Conservative on the panel should press, beyond the advice given by Conservative Home, is that we are only in this position of having to give the BNP such a platform because Labour have completely cocked things up over controlling immigration and by creating such a sense of resentment and frustration amongst a number of white working class people (and some lower middle class people too) in some parts of the country, especially through the way that New Labour behaved between 1997 & 2001 towards anyone who expressed concern about the scale of immigration into this country [remember their frequent references to other playing the 'Race Card'].
My friend and colleague, Phil Andrews, takes a different view to me on this but he does make a fair point about the format of Question Time. He said:
“the argument that Griffin is being allowed onto this programme so that others can discredit his arguments frankly doesn’t wash, the format of the programme will not permit this to happen and the more likely outcome of this new fascist-friendly strategy, which the BBC would appear to be spearheading, is that people will start to view the BNP as just another mainstream party with a valid, if controversial political platform.”
I share his concern about the format of the programme. However, the Leader of the BNP is an elected politician and I understand the difficult position of the BBC. Had I been in the Labour Party, I would have chosen to put up John Reid or Frank Field.
As Tim Montgomerie says on his posting, panellists should avoid being seen to gang up on the Leader of the BNP but for those of us who are passionate about good race relations in this country, I hope that they really expose him and his party.
Update: Baroness Warsi will be representing the Conservatives on the panel – a good choice!