I was not able to watch Question time on the BBC live last week. However, I did listen to it on the radio in my car.
There have been a number of issues raised about the BNP. Should they be allowed air time? One of the parallels I can think of is the during the late 1980s when the Conservative Government under Margaret Thatcher made it illegal for the television and radio media to broadcast the voices of members of Sinn Fein. Mrs. Thatcher is famously remembered for this quote
“starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend.”
Unfortunately, the attempt to block out Sinn Fein was ineffective. Broadcasters were still allowed to show members of Sinn Fein being interviewed. What they could not do was broadcast their voices. Broadcasters got around this, firstly, by introducing subtitles. Later, broadcasters switched to dubbing. Sinn Fein members’ voices were replaced with those of actors. The whole clampdown ended in farce.
Of course, the Government could have taken further measures to prevent imitation broadcasting of terrorists. They did not.
Fast forward to 2009. Peter Hain and others have criticised the BBC for allowing Nick Griffin a platform on Question time. Let us forget the 1980s and suppose that refusal of access to air time on radio and TV was actually effective in limiting the BNP’s political interests. Would it have been right?
The BNP has 2 class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”2 “>MEPs and 56 councillors. Whether we like it or not, the BNP represent a certain section of the electorate. However, it can also be argued that by the time they were proscribed, Sinn Fein also had elected representatives.
The BNP may be a group of thugs and fascists but they are not the political wing of a terrorist organisation. There is no provable link between what they say over broadcast media and terrorism. Peter Hain is perhaps still emotionally driven by the anti-fascist and anti racist passion of his youth. During the late 1960s, he (then as leader of the Young Liberals) led protests against sports links with South Africa. However, he is an experienced politician and a former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. He should, at this stage of his career, have a more mature and rounded view about the balance of the Public Interest.
On the programme itself, Griffin was made to look ridiculous. Two incidents stand out. One was his attempt to justify his change of opinion about the Holocaust. The other was his attempt to be an apologist for the Ku Klux Clan. I don’t believe the broadcast will have advanced the interests of the BNP at all. If anything, I think it will diminish them. The BBC is to be congratulated for taking its difficult and controversial decision.
The overwhelming majority of decent people abhor everything the BNP stand for. Perhaps one of the worst aspects of their existence is their name. Lets be absolutely clear. There is nothing British about this lot.
Filed under: BNP, Broadcasting, Censorship, Gerry Adams, Margaret Thatcher, Media, Nick Griffin, Northern Ireland politics, terrorism | Tagged: BNP, Broadcasting, Censorship, Conservative Party, Gerry Adams, IRA, Margaret Thatcher, Media, Nick Griffin, Northern Ireland politics, Peter Hain, Sinn Fein, terrorism | 2 Comments »