Controversy is not a subject all too often associated with the BBC. Oh hang on, let me start again. Controversy didn't used to be a subject often associated with the BBC. In recent years we've had the Blue Peter competition scandal, queries into wages and expenses, Arlene Phillips getting the heave ho and of course who could forget Russel Brand and Jonathan Ross insulting an OAP on Radio 2? With all that recent baggage you'd think that the powers that Beeb would want to avoid upsetting anyone. And you'd be wrong.
Tonight Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, will appear on the Beeb's longstanding debate show, Question Time. The BBC line is that he shall be afforded the same open forum as other political (or quasi political) figures to debate the matters of the day in front of a live and interactive studio audience. But will the matters of the day actually be the main topic of debate or will the whole show turn into a circus surrounding the political policies and beliefs Mr Griffen peddles.
In his defence I must protest that it is all too easy to simply label the BNP as a bunch of racist nutters without actually looking into the party and their policies. It doesn't take a lot of research to come to confirm the very same conclusion, but there are a number of things about the BNP that don't get as much publicity. They plan to:
- Leave Europe, but maintain freedom of trade.
- Devolve power away from London and empower local councils.
- Leave NATO and kick out any foreign armed forces based in the UK.
- Provide a free and fully funded NHS (for 'Britons').
So not all their policies are based around kicking out immigrants, but do they have the political and cerebal clout to handle complex economic policies?
There is a fascinating 8 months or so leading up to the general election in the battle over the cigarette paper between the Tories and Labour. The incendiary side show will be provided by Nick Griffin and his associates. There are a number of factors that concern me greatly when considering the BNP and Mr Griffin, not least the hostorical parallels that can be drawn between credit-crunch britain and conutries that have elected extreme right-wing governments. It's a fascinating topic that I beleive will gain momentum as we near the general election and will be the main topic of this blog until the election results are in.