Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve just been watching tonight’s Question Time aka ‘The Nick Griffin Show’. What follows are just some initial thoughts: feel free to add to them and/or tell me I’m talking rubbish.
Firstly, it wasn’t the disaster that I had feared. For all his much-vaunted media skills and “sophistication”, Griffin did not come over well. He looked nervous and sweaty, grinned inanely throughout and couldn’t answer simple questions about his own history of holocaust denial or his words to Klu Klux Klan boss David Duke.
I’d feared that Griffin was in a no-lose situation: if his appearance on the programme went ahead, the BNP would have achieved a major victory – an entry into the mainstream of British politics; if his invitation had been withdrawn he would once again portray himself and his fascist rabble as the persecuted victims of a fearful liberal “establishment”.
My fears deepened when I heard who the other panelists would be: Lib Dem posh-boy Chris Huhn, the unelected Tory Baroness Warsi (who is on record espousing views on gays that the BNP would agree with) and Jack Straw, a politician whose record (particularly with regard to appeasing clerical fascists like the Muslim Brotherhood) could have made him easy meat for a skilled white fascist debater.
Well, in the event Huhn, Wasi and Straw managed to give Griffin a hard time, though Huhn’s attempt to come over tough on immigration brought a snort of derision from Griffin, while Straw squirmed about denying that the rise of the BNP had anything to do with poverty and inequality under New Labour, and the Baroness looked distinctly uncomfortable as she endorsed civil partnerships.
But in the end, none of the politicians landed a knock-out punch. It was the wonderful Bonnie Greer, the culture and arts commentator, who finished him off, utilising a deadly combination of mockery, derision and denunciation. She sat next to Griffin and addressed him, smiling, as “Nick”: bloody hell, I thought: the stupid woman thinks she can win him over by being the only person on the panel to be nice to him! How wrong I was. I don’t know whether Ms Greer planned her strategy carefully in advance, or whether it just came naturally. But either way, it was devastating. She mocked his ignorance of history and the entire concept of a politics based upon the ridiculous idea of “indigenous people”; she offered to lend him some books; she became indignant when he started talking about David Duke being from a “non-violent” branch of the KKK; finally she invoked her white in-laws as examples of the common sense of “ordinary British people” who would not be taken in by the BNP.
The argument about the rights and wrongs of giving Griffin this platform will -quite rightly- continue to rage. But thank gawd for Ms Greer who almost single-handedly ensured that Griffin’s potential triumph turned into a humiliation. I say almost single- handedly because the majority of the audience were bloody brilliant as well.
PS: In view of Griffin’s ‘Question Time’ denials of racism and anti-semitism, this is well worth a gander.