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We must continue to scrutinise BNP

Richard-SudanThe presence of the far right in Britain highlights a wider problem in domestic politics, says Richard Sudan

Amid all the discussion this week centering on whether or not the BNP should be given a further platform on Question Time, the opposition party sent Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague to Washington for talks with the Obama administration.

This was in preparation for what many believe to be an imminent Conservative win in the next election. While Washington does not want to be seen meddling in British politics, American concern about the oppositions’ links with a prominent Latvian party, some members of which harbor deep-seated anti-Semitic and fascist views, is entirely justified.

Since the meeting Hague, was quoted as saying: “I have assured her [Clinton] they are mainstream parties of the centre-right … The Conservative party rejects what it regards as a smear campaign against some of its members.”

Griffin's gurn

Nick 'Creepy' Griffin

Fascism being described and acknowledged as mainstream is part of the problem we face. Passing off a party with a proven racist agenda with words like ‘democracy’, and ‘legitimate’ is becoming the norm.

If you apply a label long enough eventually it begins to stick and become acceptable. And far-right hatred will never be acceptable in our society.

If nothing else the last few days have reaffirmed what we’ve known all along. The position of power that the far-right occupies has grown in influence steadily, and will continue to do so unless we mobilise electoral forces to deal with them.

The presence of such influence in British politics has gained momentum enough for the American government to take note of the implications this could have over the direction of Europe, and David Miliband in a recent letter to the Observer noted that Britain’s diplomatic relations were on the line as a result of Conservative ties with Polish and Latvian far-right parties.

On our doorstep we saw last week the ugly spectacle of the face of the BNP being ‘challenged’ on the BBC’s Question Time. While many thought this would unmask BNP policy for what it is on such a big stage, the opportunity was squandered as the program in the end resembled Jeremy Kyle, baying for Griffin’s blood, which is precisely what Griffin wanted.

He wants to continue playing the victim in the tragedy. All Question Time has done is give Griffin the exposure for his campaign that money can’t buy.

He unashamedly repeated the usual jargon we have heard many times before. The problem is that the more these type of hateful remarks become the centre point on a stage such as Question Time the more of a support base the BNP will gain and media coverage like this reinforces their ideology in the eyes of the voters they target.

When the audience and panel attacked Griffin, and continually shouted him down they missed an opportunity to expose BNP policy for what it is. Better to give him enough rope to hang himself with.

The BNP have so many contradictions within their party it would not be difficult to beat them in a proper debate, free from the same observations heard time and again. People want to see the weak lines of argument followed by the BNP dismantled and exposed.

It is unlikely the BNP will ever gain enough of a foothold on the platform of power to enforce their views. But the opposition look poised to do so from next year. And we should rightly question their standing and political relationships.

The most effective and sure way to rid our society of bigotry and hatred is to ensure everybody plays an active part in society. In the case of far right extremism in British politics, their voices being heard are mainly because of others not voting.

The BNP had their first MEP elected this year not because they gained more votes than before-they achieved less than in 2004. It is because support had withered for the other parties.

We need to re-engage those who are not engaged and continue to show them how politics can be used to effect change, and to show them why it is relevant to their lives.

Furthermore political parties with equality at their core must work to regain the confidence of those voters who do not see Griffin for what he is-a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The voices of the many have the power to drown out the voices of those who seek to increase divisions among us.

But this is a wake up call ahead of what is looking to be a watershed election.

Let’s just hope that with the far-right in Britain all press is not indeed good press and that recent events do not further the cause of those who despite what they may say, continue to judge people in 2009 based on the colour of their skin and not on the content of their character.

People want clear and non polluted debate free from the bigoted poison of those claiming to be democrats.

It is up to us to make sure this happens. 8 million people tuned in for Question Time. I hope the same level of interest will continue with scrutiny of party policy come election time.

If you don’t vote they win. Let’s continue to carry that message forward.

Richard Sudan is a guest writer

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3 Responses

  1. I agree with you Richard. But I think that when they are scrutinised again, the focus shouldn’t just be on their racial policies. If they want to be mainstream, then they should be questioned in regards to mainstream issues other than Immigration. As immigration is the least of the British peoples problems. It is here that you can catch them out when they are asked political questions out of their comfort zone!

  2. You’re right James. What would have been far better, would be Griffin grilled by someone like Paxman. Policy would have then been examined carefully. This responsibility has to lie with the media. If we are to criticise the BBC we have to look at the same papers playing a part in this kind of thing time and time again.

  3. Agree with both posts, except I think that Humphrys would be better than Paxo.

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