Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sanity has left the building - bring it back please?

It may have been noted by some that I have not really commented on the farce that was Question Time yet, this is because I've been waiting for a quiet moment to do so, and to see the way things had panned out from it, and to be honest my general views about the BNP and the significance of Nick Griffin appearing on Question Time have not changed very much.

To start with the BBC coverage before and after was totally over the top. There were and are far more important things to report about than the appearance of porky Cambridge graduate with a dodgy eye on a late night political discussion show.

Yes, the decision to invite him was controversial, but did we really need blanket coverage and the obviously staged managed paparazzi moments at the back doors of Television Centre? OK, so I know there were a number of opposite spectrum extremists protesting outside and calling for the BNP to be "smashed" but it was just a little too much when you consider what else is happening in the country and the wider world.

Let's get a little perspective here too. Nick Griffin was invited because he managed to get a minuscule number of preference votes in a proportional system leading to a seat in a Parliament full of many like-minded extreme individuals from across Europe. As I've argued before, it makes us much more "normal" in the European scheme of things to be sending the odd fascist or borderline communist there.

Let's not forget that France, Italy, Germany et al have been sending political loonies and convicted terrorists there for years. The vast majority of who sit in what are quaintly called "mainstream" groupings by foolish politicians like the Foreign Secretary when they're playing domestic party politics while allegedly carrying out "official duties".

That said, what about the Question Time appearance itself? Well, the BBC, and by that I mean the producers and presenter made a rather silly error. They basically allowed the entire thing to be the "Nick Griffin Show". Don't get me wrong here, pointing out the absurdity of many of his arguments is great fun. However, deliberately crafting your audience so it has lots of people that Griffin doesn't like gave it an angry mob feeling rather than a serious show.

What we got was not your typical Question Time, but instead an audience that was charged and baying for blood. It was all about hate - which is particularly ironic given that it was their hate directed at his hate. It gave it an absurd Orwellian edge, where Griffin was like Emmanuel Goldstein on a "telescreen", whilst the audience engaged in their weekly hate-o-thon.

Don't misunderstand me here, I'm not saying that Griffin should be given sympathy, far from it, but when you take a look at the whole picture; if you add together the idiots outside screaming with an audience inside that was quite clearly loaded in such a way as to create anger - masquerading as passion natch! - then you end up with a show that before it had the potential for sublime political discourse but ultimately became ridiculous.

That's the real reason we now have the "fall out" we do. On the one hand we have Nick Griffin saying, whilst flagged by hired muscle, that he was "bullied" - isn't that a funny thing to get your head around? - and people like Peter Hain suggesting that this is real hell in a handcart stuff and we're on a slippery slope to our own little Reichstag fire.

We even have bookies shortening odds on the BNP winning a seat at the General Election. It's a clever move of course because the bookies love to goad stupid people into losing their money, but let's be realistic for a second. No one seriously thinks that the Liberal Democrats will win an overall majority, the best they can hope for is potentially holding the balance of power in a Hung Parliament, so what chance do the BNP have?

It isn't Elvis or Nick Griffin that's left the building, its sanity when you hear people actually worrying that the BNP might win a seat in Parliament. What's even more bizarre is the thought that a single seat won would be a disaster of earth shattering proportions. Again don't misunderstand me here, I'm not saying that I would like to see the BNP get a seat in the Commons, all I'm saying is that if they did, the idea that it might be the beginning of the end for British democracy is utter bollocks.

There's been quite a lot of discussion about why the BNP have suddenly started winning the odd seat in Councils here and there - and again it is miniscule in the wider scheme of things. The reason is simple, they're hitting the buttons of voters on specific issues. Now, you can blame that on the failure of the Labour Government, or you can blame it on the lack of credible Opposition to the Government for nearly a decade, but blame isn't the important thing, the issues are.

Until the parties that have any serious change of power address the issues that have seen the BNP increase their vote, they're not going to go away. That's a fact. They're also not going to take over the country and get us wearing brown shirts and jack boots either, but they'll still be there screaming from the lunatic fringes. I guess a Government could outlaw them, but that wouldn't be a particularly British thing to do. Likewise it wouldn't be very British to outlaw their views and create some "thought crimes".

No, the truth is, you either (a) address the appeal of the BNP, and stop naval gazing at who's to blame for their miniscule and insignificant popular polling of a whopping 0.9%, or (b) you live with the fact that there are some political parties that have views you don't like but they're so extreme and nutty they're never going to see the light of day in policy fruition anyway. Pat them on the head, and then point and laugh at them as they shout from their corners.

Frankly speaking, if the three main parties can hold their noses whilst dealing with their European group colleagues who span from the odd, to the deranged, to the murderous, then I don't see why they can't do the same with their own equally dodgy countrymen. It's a lofty point to make I know, but in a democracy you're always going to have views that are are not of the mainstream but which are going to be voted for.

The mainstream of opinion, and by that I mean the sane, know that their arguments and ideas and better than the BNP. They're better funded, and, in their heart of hearts, they know that the views of the BNP, like the views of the RWP and SWP, are extreme and stand no chance of going mainstream. Sure, the BNP might see a momentary opinion poll jump where they go from having an insignficnatly small percentage to a larger yet equally insignificant percentage, but let's not kid ourselves that it represents anything in Parliament.

In the current First-Past-the-Post system it's meaningless, and even if we had a proportional system it would mean a Parliament with a handful of extra loonies in the corner with no power. A poll bounce (to even 5%) after widespread media coverage eight months before a General election does not and will not translate to anything of power shifting signficance.

In the 20th Century, Britain stood up against the kindred brotherhood of the far-Left which came in the form of National Socialsm and Marxist-Leninist-Stalinism. The notion that any of those ideas, which have been comprehensively trounced, have the chance of taking power is hyperbole of the highest order. A handful of councillors, a couple of MEPs and even a couple of MPs does not a totalitarian revolution make.

People need to stop worrying about the BNP so much, and, as two wise young ladies often say to me, "build a bridge, and get over it".

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