Friday, October 23, 2009

The BNP and the BBC

(Before I start, and in case there's any doubt: I am in no way a supporter of the BNP. In fact, in almost every regard I am directly opposite to them in political outlook. However, I strongly believe in various freedoms, and part of that requires arguing that those freedoms be afforded to people who I really dislike.)

Back during the European elections, there was a lot of concern about the possibility of the BNP willing a seat or two. In the end, they won two. At the time, there was some discussion on how to make sure this never happened again.

When discussing this, I made the comment (elsewhere) that this was a matter of going about things the wrong way. The fact that the BNP were able to stand on a, frankly, hateful platform, and that people were allowed to vote for them, even if this gave a result that 'we' didn't want was actually a sign that our system was working as intended. Further, rather than trying to change the rules to drive out the BNP, what should be done is that they should be engaged in argument, shown as exactly what they are, and thus defeated. (Also, the 'mainstream' parties should also take a good look at why they have so disillusioned voters so that they decided not to bother voting en masse - a low turn out favours the extremists.)

(And, while I'm on the topic, I'm more than a little disturbed by the recent judgement that the BNP must allow people of all races to join. I'm inclined to think that there are certain organisations that are inherently racist, sexist or sectarian, and that some exception must therefore be made. One wouldn't suggest that the church should be required to appoint ministers without regard to their religious beliefs, for example, and neither would one expect that the Girl Guides should be forced to accept boys*. So, I'm inclined to think the BNP should be allowed to continue to be inherently racist - and we should trumpet this fact loud and long, expose them to the light, and thus destroy them. That said, I am amused by the possibility of black and asian people joining the BNP en masse, and wiping them out that way.

* Although, it should be noted that efforts have been made to do exactly this. Both the Girl Guides and the Boys' Brigade have had to manage without government funding in recent years because they won't allow boys/girls to join. While I understand the principle behind this, and broadly agree with it, I'm sure that in this case it is a mistake.)

And so we get to the BBC, and in particular "Question Time". Now, the BBC take the view that this show is supposed to represent the entire political spectrum. Therefore, as the BNP have some elected MEPs, the rules suggest that they should be invited to take part, as happened last night.

Cue the inevitable storm of protest. In particular, one Labour MP started talking about a 'legal challenge' because, as noted above, the BNP constitution has been ruled to be unlawful. The suggestion, again, was that because 'we' don't like the way things have turned out, 'we' should change the rules to silence the voices we don't like to hear.

I'm very glad that the BBC didn't cave in to this pressure. I'm also very glad that all of our mainstream parties sent representatives to take part in the debate. (In the end, I watched very little of the show; it was always going to be about the BNP, and there's very little that they have to say that I have any interest in hearing.)

What I saw of it bore out what I was sure would happen: hand the BNP the rope, don't let them duck the questions, and they'll promptly hang themselves.

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