Give ‘em enough rope
The BNP may, following a review of BBC policy, be invited to grace the panel of Question Time. If this comes to pass there is bound to be a renewed outpouring of anguish and outrage in our national press. Nothing stirs up hand-wringing like an appearance from our favourite bogeymen.
But, if the BBC does allow a representative of the BNP to appear they will, in fact, be doing a great service to democracy. In two very important ways the BBC will be helping to burst the bubble of imagined success that the BNP has built up since winning their two seats in the European Parliament.
Firstly it will undermine the victim status that the BNP so relishes. Isolation and exclusion are succor for a party that has built its limited popularity on the fiction of their oppression by an imagined elite – Nick Griffin and company rely on their mythic status as ‘sayers of the unsayable’ who battle against a hegemony that ignores the voices of the common man. By giving the BNP the same platform as the other parties the BBC can help to diffuse that myth.
Secondly there is a real need for the main parties and the broadcasters to stand by the belief that the BNP are ignorant and out of tune with public opinion. If we believe that the majority of British people are neither racists nor fascists then surely they will be revolted by Nick Griffin calling for the sinking of ships carrying immigrants (as he said to Andrew Marr).
The BNP are not a party whose convictions are in step with everyday British people (in fact most of their convictions are criminal in nature and rather undermine their calls for a more aggressive approach to the enforcement of law and order). Let’s give people the chance to see that for themselves.