How effective was Question Time at hurting the BNP? I would say somewhat. It went better than it might have done, but worse than it should have done. Here’s how I thought each of the panellists did:
Chris Huhne (5.5/10): Fairly anonymous, and struggled when confronted with Nick Griffin’s assertion about Liberal Democrat support for free movement to Britain from Eastern and Central Europe. One or two good points.
Bonnie Greer (7/10): Much better than expected. Rambled a bit at times, but landed some useful blows onto Mr. Griffin. Different approach (the more chummy approach) seemed to throw him off his stride.
Baroness Warsi (8.5/10): Had a wonderful moment during the programme when she acknowledged that not all the people who voted for the BNP did so out of racism. Talked about tackling issues like depravation and the pace of change in order to draw people away from the BNP and back to the mainstream parties. Just the sort of thing wavering BNP supporters needed to hear, especially from a non-white Muslim politician who is likely to be in charge of aspects of this in a year’s time. Even if you didn’t agree with everything she said, this was a powerful pronouncement. Took a bit of time to get going, and should have asked a few more probing questions.
Jack Straw (2/10): Worse than useless in many ways. Started off relatively well (the first minute or so), but then ruined it by failing to actually press the BNP on anything much. It got worse when his answer about whether or not immigration management in the last ten years has helped the BNP turned to waffle. Just the sort of thing to drive people into the arms of the BNP. Failed to ask penetrating questions of the BNP. Arguably his own populist attacks on Muslims in the past limited his effectiveness.
David Dimbleby and the Question Time audience (9/10): David Dimbleby was simply wonderful. He was one of the few people to press Mr. Griffin on quotations, and it was this forensic questioning that had Mr. Griffin squirming more than at any other time. As I and others have long argued, this is the way to beat the BNP. Mr. Dimbleby also was able to deflect accusations of anti-BNP bias by trying to cut through Jack Straw’s waffle as well. The audience too played their part very well. We were thankfully not treated to the display of anti-fascist protestors disrupting the programme, which would have proved an excellent recruiting sergeant for the BNP, while the audience did not treat Nick Griffin as some sort of pantomime villain and boo him whenever he tried to speak.
Nick Griffin came out of this evening diminished, especially as it came at the end of a week where the BNP have been on the defensive, most notably over the threats to British generals. He was embarrassed and squirmed when questioned on specifics. Yet it could have been so much better. Pickled Politics, eGov and other blogs had done plenty of groundwork in forensically exposing and highlighting BNP policies. The information was all there for the panellists, who failed, for the most part, to really skewer the BNP. There will be a few glasses raised to Jack Straw in BNP headquarters tonight.
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Filed in: Media,The BNP