Question Time

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!

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5 Responses to “Question Time”

  1. Graham de wey peters Says:

    Just one thing Mark it’s not just Labour that have ” cocked up immigration ” i don’t seem to remember the Conservatives actually doing anything about it either !!!! , it’s like every goverment seems to think we can keep accepting every tom , dick and harry , when we don’t have enough housing for the people in this country , not enough jobs for the people of this country, and the kids that are brought up in this country have to take a back seat in classes because of immigrants kids who do not speak the language , until the door is shut and we find out who is exactly living here then the BNP WILL CONTINUE TO GROW , like it or lump it !!!!

  2. Mark Bowen Says:

    Thanks for your posting. I did not actually say, “cocked up immigration” and it is important that I point that out because what I said is quite different.

    What I do believe, objectively, is that the level of resentment in some parts of the country and a growing BNP did not happen when I first got involved in politics in the 90s when John Major was the Prime Minister.

    I have always taken the view that immigration can be a good thing and in so many respects has been a good thing in this country. But since 1997, Controlling Immigration has not happened. And, worse than that, the tactics of New Labour between 1997 & 2001 that I have referred to previously has had some extremely serious consequences.

  3. Graham de wey peters Says:

    This is what you said

    ” 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’]. ”
    And you said

    Labour have completely cocked things up over controlling immigration .
    attention to detail please.

  4. Mark Bowen Says:

    With respect, I referred to Labour cocking things up over “controlling immigration”. You quoted me as saying “cocked up immigration”. But I did not say that.

    The two are different. I agree that this detail is important.

  5. Mark Savage Says:

    One question that everybody always seems to fight shy of though, Mark, is what immigration is it we want to limit? If we are talking about immigration from central and eastern Europe, then we have no choice in the matter as long as we remain members of the European Union. Migrants to Britain of the accession states, who let’s face it are probably what most of us see as the most obvious example of immigration in noughties Britain, are here by the same rights which allow British citizens to freely move and work in other states of the union. Whether that policy is right or wrong is not for me to say here, but it’s a fact.

    If, on the other hand, we are talking about immigration from numerous other countries outside the EU, through asylum or other reasons, then the real issue is the volatile condition of our world which leads to them wanting to come here in the first place- and how they behave when they do. Community Cohesion, or the lack of it, is surely at the core of the anti-immigration argument.

    A bigger issue is, surely, not controlling immigration at all, but encouraging, fostering and properly managing assimilation. While far from perfect- particularly with black civil rights- the United States seems to have managed to integrate citizens of numerous different ethnic origins over the last century, so why can’t we?

    As to Nick Griffin and the BNP on Question Time, its the price we pay for free speech. To paraphrase the quote so often attributed to Voltaire (wrongly, apparently, as it doesn’t appear in his writings) “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. As long as Nick Griffin is not actually inciting murder, assault, criminal damage or theft, he has the right to an opinion and to express it. I disagree vehemently with much of his party’s philosophy but Mark is right in acknowledging the BBC’s difficulty here. As has been said, if there were an election tomorrow, Griffin would be a legitimate candidate.Rightly or wrongly, it’s the ballot box that has led to his election as an MEP, and it can only be the ballot box or the fair trial of his peers if he offends against the law of the land that stop him speaking as he chooses.

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