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The Right Is Wrong

Posted on 2nd November 2009. 7 Comments

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George Twigg will not be voting for the BNP anytime soon…

“…a few things about Nick Griffin.  He is a racist.  He is a fascist.  He is Anti-Semitic….”

B409737D-03F4-B5D0-565DA453BAE7F092Any television station that will broadcast two-and-a-half hours of Strictly Come Dancing at a time whilst leaving The Wire in the graveyard slot deserves more than its fair share of criticism.  However, regarding the controversial appearance of Nick Griffin on Question Time last week, I will happily defend the Corporation.  Inviting the fascist BNP onto a panel show was the right thing to do, or at least, in theory.

  Firstly, a few things about Nick Griffin.  He is a racist.  He is a fascist.  He is Anti-Semitic.  He is a Holocaust denier.  He misrepresents Islam.  All these facts can be confirmed by looking at the plentiful evidence that has amassed over the years.  But the fact remains that he is the head of a registered political party, which gained nearly a million votes at the recent European elections.  He is entitled to demand representation on political discussion shows, and said shows are within their rights to offer him airtime.  The edition of Question Time that went out on the 22nd October, however, was not a political discussion show.

  After the programme finished, I thought to myself, “This is brilliant – he’s been destroyed!”  But he wasn’t.  Not really.  Nick Griffin is a disgusting bigot, at the head of a party of disgusting bigots, but one thing he is not is an able politician, and the show did nothing to confirm this in the minds of viewers.  Question Time should have showed Griffin’s incompetence, but instead of a regular panel show, what we got was a discussion not simply including the BNP, but about the BNP, and specifically, the BNP’s views on race.  I’ll admit that I gained some pleasure from watching the audience members and panellists, whether they were white, Afro-Caribbean, British Asian or otherwise, tear into him.  Some of the invective was brilliant, some was woeful.  And all of it was counter-productive.

“…the BBC was scared of engaging him in debate…”

  Nick Griffin likes to paint himself as a victim, a champion of the poorbnp-leader-nick-griffin-pic-pa-115460673 oppressed majority.  After Question Time ended, the first thing he did was to complain that everybody ganged up on him, and to be honest, he had a point.  The BBC, facing a flood of complaints from the public, caved in to demands that Griffin should not be treated like any other politician, and made the show bereft of serious discussion.  Instead, it consisted of personal attacks and cheap digs, because the BBC was scared of engaging him in debate, wary that it would be seen as having accepted him into the political mainstream.  This was a mistake.

  I lost count of the number of times that Griffin was accused of saying something racist, and retorted by announcing that he had been misquoted.  As it is far more difficult to affirm something than to deny it, it would have been far better, rather than quiz him on his links with the KKK, to have asked him to give a detailed outline of his party’s policies on defence, or education, or social security, or essentially anything other that race or immigration.  He wouldn’t have had a clue.  The representatives of the main three parties would have torn him to shreds, thus proving once and for all that he is not a credible politician.  Instead, we spent an hour watching him deny his extreme-right views on race, and taking a barrage of personal attacks that allowed him to portray himself as the target of bullies.  Yes, the things he said were appalling, particularly his characterisation of gay men kissing in public as “really creepy”, and his use of the word “genocide” to describe a perceived erosion of British culture which was an insult to all who died in the Holocaust of which he denies the true extent.  But most people who watched the programme already knew what he was; the real point of Question Time should have been to prove to everyone who gave him a protest vote in June that they had made the wrong decision. 

Sadly, I think that all it has accomplished has been to intensify the BNP’s persecution complex, and to show that politicians, television channels and members of the public alike, are fearful of accepting the BNP as a political party, rather than as a group of racists.  Yet this is the only way to defeat them; we should treat the racists just like we would any other people, we should not discriminate as they do.  We should certainly not use violence to combat them; anti-fascist protestors clashed with police outside Television Centre, but the real, effective protest should have taken place inside the studio.  It didn’t, because everybody inside was complicit in the BNP’s game; they want to be treated as a single-issue party, and Question Time played into their hands by focusing on race and immigration, the one issue on which they possess a fleshed-out, albeit simplistic and repellent ideology.  Right-thinking people shouldn’t acquiesce in this, but defeat them using the best tool for beating the extreme-right that we have – fair, rigorous, democratic debate, about the issues concerning British people.

 ”But to think we can go it alone like Norway or Switzerland, and still keep our diplomatic clout, is delusional…”

 cameron756-1 So what of the mainstream right-wing, the Conservative Party?  Well, they’re currently engaged in political suicide.  Not only have they failed to persuade the British public beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are a dynamic alternative to the dog-tired Labour Party, but they have managed to alienate the European leaders that they will soon be working with, by pulling out of the main centre-right group in the European Parliament.  Essentially, they have resigned from a bloc containing the current leaders of France, Germany and Italy, and aligned themselves with parties that include a number of homophobic Eastern European parties, and a Latvian organisation that puts on an annual parade honouring the country’s Waffen SS veterans.  Doubtless this is to pacify Tory Eurosceptics, but it seems like madness.  Barack Obama’s US administration is keeping the UK at a distance for the moment, and now we have alienated ourselves from our continental partners. 

Like it or not, once the Lisbon treaty goes through, the EU will be more critical to effective foreign policy than ever before, and separating the party from the European mainstream will prove a catastrophic decision for David Cameron to have made.  Two courses of action appear to be available; the first is to perform the sort of U-turn that Margaret Thatcher decried, and come crawling back to Merkel, Sarkozy and Berlusconi.  The second is to leave the EU altogether, and probably most British people would approve.  But to think we can go it alone like Norway or Switzerland, and still keep our diplomatic clout, is delusional.  Britain and the Conservative Party must rejoin the European mainstream; all other roads point to impotent isolation.  Greater continental federalism is the new order of the day, and we should move with the times rather than seek an independence from the mainland that is, nowadays, purely geographical.

George Twigg

7 Comments »

  • Calum said:

    It was all a little petty to be honest. If anything, at least it showed he is a poor public speaker.

  • David said:

    The BNP is a trap

    I remember getting a BNP leaflet through my letterbox in Durham. It made no mention of racism, Nazism etc and instead mentioned that globalisation was driving down wages and living standards for working class people and that governments are in the pockets of the big corporations. True. It showed that the BNP knows that working class people (especially in the north) have really been struggling with eastern Europeans etc taking their jobs by willing to work for half the wage. How would Durham students enjoy their parents plush office jobs being taken by immigrants willing to work for half the salary?

    Know what the Lisbon Treaty means. We are moving into a totalitarian super-state. If you are still not aware of this have a look at these links http://www.wiseupjournal.com/?cat=24

    To move people into this super-state with the least possible resistance you have to discredit the opposition, namely popular anger against globalisation, and nationalism. The BNP promotes these causes while mixing it with Nazism and racism. Therefore the public (specifically the ‘intellectual’ middle class) can be trained to equate protectionism and nationalism with Nazism. The perfect atmosphere to move us into the new European super-state. People are being trained to accept the destruction of the social fabric of this society and the BNP’s role is to discredit resistance.

    Look at who runs the BNP. Are these disgruntled working class people? Look at the BNP’s ideological enforcer Arthur Kemp, he is former South African (apartheid=British) secret services. And look who is promoting them at every opportunity on TV and radio? The BBC. Think about it.

    And when our economy has been imploded and day after day we are looted with more banker bailouts which will keep us in debt-induced servitude for generations, what are the people protesting against? They are outside the BBC building protesting against illusory fascism. How easily manipulated we are.

  • George said:

    Let’s start with the Lisbon Treaty – I had a look at your links – pretty scary if they’re all based in fact. However, nowhere in my article did I say that the rebranded EU Constitution was a good thing. I merely argued that it was inevitable that it would pass (and indeed, the Czechs have now given the go-ahead, thus removeing the last obstacle), and so the Tories should accept this, rejoin the EPP in order to maintain Britain’s influence in Europe, and use this influence to attempt to repatriate the facets of the treaty that undermine that they believe to be most anti-democratic. If they fail, at least they will have tried.

    Of course the BNP aren’t going to declare that they are Nazis on their campaign literature – that would be moronic. They suck people in by appealing to more moderate concerns about immigration, the economy etc. If you just studied the leaflets, you might think that they were no worse than any other right-wing party. But if you look at the people in the BNP themselves, then it soon becomes clear what they are. On Question Time, Nick Griffin was bombarded by a string of quotes that he had said in the past. He tried to show that he was a changed man, but an innocuous question about Stephen Gately, the dead Boyzone singer, prompted Griffin to reveal his latent homophobia. However much they try to appeal moderate, these people when interviewed will generally let slip something offensive to minorities, and indeed to the moderate majority. Just a week after his TV appearance, Griffin remarked on the radio that “There’s no such thing as a black Welshman.” And let’s not forget that their constitution still advocates the return of Britain to an overwhelmingly white majority. The leaflets are more moderate because that wins votes, but if people look beyond what comes through their letterbox, they will see the racism – it’s not exactly hard to find examples.

    The BNP’s ‘role’ is to win votes in elections, the same as any other political party. You say they are in fact a tool of the establishment to discredit resistance, and to equate protectionism and nationalism with abhorrent beliefs. However, UKIP came second in the European elections running on such a platform (although they advocate trade with the Commonwealth rather than the EU, this is a form of Anglocentric protectionism) – people aren’t turned off protectionism and nationalism by the BNP – more people voted for UKIP than at any time in their history. If the BNP’s role is as you say, they’re not performing it very well. And who is funding them? The government? The secret services? Big business? Call me an idealist, but I have a hard time accepting the notion that the powerful of this nation would covertly fund an organisation that seeks to dehumanize large swathes of the population.

    Griffin may be a Cambridge graduate, but the vast majority of the BNP’s membership come fromn the disgruntled working class. Movements do not have to be led by those they appeal to – look at the Bolsheviks.

    The BBC runs stories about the BNP because people want to hear about them. That’s just journalism. There have only been a large number of stories about the organisation recently because of the debate over their appearance on Question Time. You have no evidence for this assertion that the BBC gives the BNP airtime in order to usher in an EU superstate. To say that this fascism is ‘illusory’ is a deeply dangerous thing to say, especially in the light of the violence against minorities perpetrated by some BNP members or sympathizers. The threat is real, and we need to deal with it. Finally, the protests outside television centre were high-profile, but the anger against bankers and MPs hasn’t simply gone away – remember G20? That sort of discontent can hardly be dissipated by a momentary switch of this popular feeling towards the BNP. In a month’s time we’ll still be talking about the recession, and these disgusting Nazis will be relegated to the small columns of newspapers until their next appearance on Question Time.

    Oh, and apartheid=South African. I think I can guess what you’re trying to say, but Britain is a tolerant country that in modern times has treated people as equals, whatever their race, and long may that remain the case.

  • David said:

    You don’t need to own the whole party; you just have your guys in at the top orchestrating it all. Guys like Arthur Kemp and Nick Griffin who know their roles, and then make sure it is well funded and gets enough press coverage. The other politicians in the party and the party’s supporters are just useful idiots who will follow.
    This idea that fascism is sweeping across Britain is an absolute joke. Yes you get the odd racial beating in places like Bradford but seen as you’re in Durham, go to the working class parts. Do you see brown shirts marching in the streets? People reading fascist literature? Chanting fascist slogan? Telling you about their admiration for Mussolini? It is not happening.

    Why haven’t UKIP been all over the papers and been promoted on Question Time?

    BBC= the BBC has always been an arm of the British government and I’m not talking about the Labour/ Conservative Punch and Judy show, I’m talking about the real government. The bankers, the secret services, the think tanks etc. David Miliband wrote an article in The Times the other day in which he mentioned that the BBC is one way the UK can conducts foreign policy and can influence the world. Take the fabricated Iran election controversy, 6 months before it happened BBC Persia was launched, stirring up a lot of trouble. China is currently blocking a new BBC China. So if the BBC is used by government as a weapon in foreign affairs, do you honestly think that it is not used at home?
    I remember sitting in Esquire one day last year and BBC news 24 was on the big TV screen. Nick Griffin was walking to parliament and got hit by an egg. Three hours later, they were still showing the clip on a loop. The face of nationalism made to look the pantomime villain. They love images like that that get burnt in the public consciousness.

    The enormity of the move into a European super-state will not hit most people for years. We are being moved into a new soviet. Former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky notes how the set-up of the post-Lisbon EU is modeled on the government of the Soviet Union in this video http://www.wiseupjournal.com/?p=622

    The foundations need to be laid for the public to accept this. The BNP is part of these foundations. The question is not is the BNP aiding the transition to a European super-state? They clearly are. The question is whether the BNP is a social engineering project. And in my opinion, it clearly is.

  • Mark Harmstone said:

    I’m going to gloss over the implicit smear here in placing the Conservatives alongside BNP, as it is beneath contempt.

    The discussion of Tory policy on the EU is absurd. Take the EPP, for instance – should the Conservatives really have stayed in a federalist grouping when they themselves now contain only a handful of federalist dinosaurs (Heseltine, Clark, et al.)? And the Miliband line about their allies is flimsy to say the least: the EP, as a consequence of PR, is full of unpleasant types, and Labour themselves sit with an ex-IRA man. The successor to Mussolini’s party now sits with the very same EPP.
    And as for the Latvian Waffen SS thing – all parties in Latvia, bar the Greens and the ethnically-Russian party, honour all those who fought against the Soviets in the War. Surely the very point of the EU (in as much as it has one) is that we must honour the traditions of other countries, regardless of how odd they seem to us?
    Calling the Conservative Party’s policy “political suicide” is Just Plain Wrong, when the polls are in a steady holding pattern of 42-28-17 or thereabouts just before a general election. I’d hardly call winning an outright majority from opposition “suicide”!

    Regarding the question of influence – I would gladly exchange ten parts of influence for one part democracy. What special quality do the Norwegians and Swiss have that we lack? We’re not part of the United States, yet we still trade with them; what we would lose by just being part of EFTA? Why must we tolerate such constant tinkering with our laws by foreign powers?
    Even if you accept the necessity of “diplomatic clout”, what use is it of Britain’s surrendering its influence to a larger body, if said body doesn’t reflect the views of Britain? What use is it of replacing the British whisper with a Franco-German roar?

  • George said:

    Mark Harmstone: Probably should have made it clear that I don’t equate the Tories with the BNP at all – I think that Cameron has done well to move both their political substance and their image towards the centre. I had two columns in mind, but as they both concerned right-wing parties I decided to place them together. No offence meant towards the Conservatives I assure you – I’m thinking about voting for them at the election.

    Good point about the Conservative party having moved away from federalism – that’s certainly true. However, I think pragmatism should have taken precedence, particularly as the Tories will almost certainly be forming the next government. You also make the point about suspect groups (such as the ‘successors to Mussolini’, actually a part of Berlusconi’s PDL coalition rather than a separate party) being present in every supranational party in the EP. Again, correct, but the difference is that the Conservatives’ ECR party contains a rather higher proportion of these unpleasant types than mainstream groups – its chair, Michal Kaminski, is a known homophobe. The polls indeed point to a Conservative win in 2010, but winning the British election is not the be all and end all – the hard work will begin after polling day. You can win an election and still fall down in foreign policy.

    The reason the EU doesn’t reflect the views of Britain is that we’ve never fully participated – a Conservative government willing to work closely with the Western European giants will, I’d like to think, have more of a say in Europe. Again, pragmatism – without that, the ‘British whisper’ will remain just that.

    I must take issue with your comment about the Latvian party – the EU is about co-operation and respect between nations, it’s true. But calling aligning yourself with Nazi sympathisers ‘honouring tradition’ is euphemistic to say the least – these people’s beliefs would horrify tolerant Brits. And I’m aware that this statement goes against my call for pragmatism, but surely a line needs to be drawn – I guess we just disagree on where that should be.

  • Interested said:

    Hey guys just a note from one of the people involved in D21:

    Despite the obvious debate brewing here, you guys clearly hold opinions on important things. If you are interested in writing an article on anything please give drop me a message:

    c.j.c.adair@durham.ac.uk