As a half Thai, half Arab British woman born and raised in London, England, it was of course, a point of great interest when I heard that Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party (aka Racist Party) would be appearing on Question Time. Swallowing past the amazement that a party with such an outrageous manifesto was being considered for prime time television, I found myself questioning what possible benefits could come from such a stratagem. The aforementioned BBC political debate programme happens to be one of the more respected political television programmes broadcast to the British people, which explained Griffin’s choice of platform. However the furore which followed the show was not so much a consequence of the stammering excuses uttered by Britain’s most hated politician, but the fact that the BBC advocated having Griffin on air at all. The British public voiced their disgust and outrage in their droves, even as far as to stage a 500-strong physical protest outside the BBC Television Centre in White City. I happen to be one of many who disagree with the BNP’s constitution which asserts that “immigrants and their descendants should return home”, in an effort to “reverse the tide of non-white immigration”. I oppose the support of the seats they have won in Parliament through garnering support from racially segregated towns and cities within rural and suburban Britain. However the question of the moment asks people of all race and colour: should the BBC have allowed Nick Griffin on Question Time in this day and age?
The word on everyone’s lips is of course, the BBC’s gain, of which no secret has been made: ratings. The viewing public was simply a pawn in the entire charade to win the BBC ratings in the interest of profit. The BBC, set up in 1927 and currently run by the UK Government, has for it’s motto “Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation.” There is no greater irony than the juxtaposition of this motto with the content aired during the Nick Griffin programme. What never fails to surprise me, is the way in which the British public staunchly stand beside the BBC as the “final word” on all news broadcasts British. It pains me to say it, but it is often eerily like watching a collective under Stockholm Syndrome. To wholeheartedly trust in a broadcasting corporation which treats the morality of it’s motto like a headstone on a grave is, to put it mildly, a little blind-sighted. Time and time again, the BBC have been proven to have broadcast overtly biased, one-sided information in their news bulletins, documentaries and programmes. This is not in itself a complete criticism of the BBC; there truly are people out there who choose to consume biased media, see no fault in it and are quite thoroughly happy going to the grave having done so all their lives. But there exists a collective of people who are unresolved in their overall opinion of the way in which the BBC broadcasts it’s media. A good example of this as a consequence, was the selective information the BBC fed to the British public regarding the recent US presidential campaigns of 2008. In the advent of seeking out news on the internet, British people started hearing different versions of this news which were not being fed through the BBC 6 ‘O Clock bulletin. The awakening was like watching people return to a conscientiousness they’d lost after student-hood. Aunty Beeb, it seemed, had forgotten to stock up the jar of sweets. It seemed like it wasn’t just their patchy, inconsistent Middle Eastern coverage that was garnering attention.
The Nick Griffin-Question Time scandal came about because this was an uninhibited BBC orchestration. The entire thing was choreographed for both parties’ benefit. As a condemnation of the BNP, Prime Minister Gordon Brown was quoted as having said, “Londoners and the rest of the British people know that backing the BNP is totally at odds with what it really means to be British – and the great British values the rest of us share, such as democracy and decency, freedom and fairness, tolerance and equality.” Perhaps so. But the great trouble with democracy is it’s two pivotal principles, equality and freedom. Although widely considered so, technically speaking, Britain has never been a two-party state and celebrates this by encouraging multi-party support from the people. Suffice it to say, by default the BNP and their shocking manifesto have a right to speech, despite the fight for racial integration in a modern society. The real question is not whether or not, it is what and when.
So what is the answer? Power in numbers. Democracy is defined in Greek as “power of the people”. This is now, more than ever, a call to the Britons who have never voted, to vote. There are many who say of themselves and others, “What is the point of speaking when effectively, we have no voice when it comes to these kinds of things?” May I both politely and rudely remind those people that, yes, you do have a voice, your vote is your voice. At no point should giving up be an option, because we all know that bad things do not stay the same: they progressively worsen. Don’t leave politics to the young and impassioned, as Lord Kitchener would say today: “Your country wants YOU.”