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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Challenging the BNP

The Independent on Sunday report on a rift growing within the Cabinet about how to best tackle the BNP, following the decision by BBC Question Time to invite Nick Griffin onto their programme:

Peter Hain is to make a formal complaint to the BBC Trust over the appearance of the British National Party leader, Nick Griffin, on BBC1's Question Time next week. This follows what insiders described as a "robust" meeting between the Secretary of State for Wales and the show's executive producer, Ric Bailey, during the Labour Party conference.

Mr Hain said yesterday: "I fundamentally disagree with the BBC's decision. I fully understand why colleagues feel they have to appear, but I certainly wouldn't appear with a racist, fascist representative – I think it gives them legitimacy."

But Peter Sissons, a former chairman of Question Time, attacked the Labour minister yesterday: "Instead of bleating to the BBC Trust, why doesn't the great campaigner offer to go on the programme and dismantle the BNP's policies himself?"

No matter what we think about 'no platform' policies there is no doubt in my mind that Peter Sissons represents a significant body of public opinion. Peter Hain can of course choose to excuse himself from debating directly with the BNP on the basis of his principles but most people will ask what he is afraid of.

Whether we like it or not the BNP have full time elected politicians. The policy of no-platforming them has failed. If we are to properly tackle them we have to engage them in debate and demonstrate why their views have no place in our country.

A further news story in the Mail on Sunday however, shows what can happen when robust challenge is not present in programmes featuring the BNP (or indeed any other politician). Radio One's Newsbeat programme has come under fire for allowing two leading BNP activists to make unchallenged 'racist' statements on a news broadcast.

The activists claimed black England footballer Ashley Cole was not 'ethnically British' and spoke of him 'coming to this country' - even though he was born in East London:

BBC guidelines, which govern all the Corporation's output, set strict criteria on the use of anonymous sources.

The rules say: 'With an anonymous source... we must give the audience as much information about them as is compatible with protecting their identity, and in a way that does not mislead the audience about their status.

'We should normally identify on-air and online sources of information and significant contributors, as well as providing their credentials, so that our audiences can judge their status.'

The interview was also an apparent breach of National Union of Journalists guidelines which say that when interviewing representatives of racist organisations, 'journalists should carefully check all reports for accuracy and seek rebutting or opposing comments. The antisocial nature of such views should be exposed'.

But Newsbeat did not disclose any details about its BNP interviewees' backgrounds other than their first names and ages - and now refuses to discuss the reason behind the decision.

Reporter Debbie Randle, who interviewed the men, did not question them about their roles in the party or ask them about any previous controversy.

I think the lessons here are clear. The BNP may have forced themselves onto our airwaves by their limited electoral successes but impartial broadcasters cannot use that as an excuse not to ensure that listeners have full information about the people who are being interviewed nor should these people be given an easy ride.

As politicians we are used to being challenged on our views all the time. The BNP need to get used to that too. Indeed it is our duty to force that debate if we are to expose their lies and the misinformation on which they campaign.
For once I can agree with you on something. The BNP have been given a mandate by the electorate in local and EU elections and can't be ignored. Banning BNP membership for certain jobs and refusing to take them on in debates does nothing but drive people into their arms. If any politician feels capable of going on TV with someone from the BNP and explain why we still need an open door immigration policy when we're up to our eyes in debt and unemployment is through the roof then let them do so. They won't win on that count but pretty much everything else the BNP stands for can be challenged successfully.
As someone who campaigned as a young Liberal against Apartheid in SA - I suspect Peter Hain has a right to feel very strongly about this awful group of reactionaries getting a platform in this country.
Whether you agree with immigration or not people have a right to ask how many more, with a depression recession how many more people will come to the UK. We are told nobody who comes here goes onto benefits bullshit they do. thats what was said when I was listening to people at a meeting.

Thats what people are saying thinking, myself I think we must take in people who need a home, we have enough room, although we might not have enough jobs. If you do not want Iraqi's knocking on the door asking to come in, then do not invade the country. Same as Afghan, but the world is without doubt becoming a smaller place and starvation and poverty will keep people wanting to come here.

It's a sad fact of life if Politicians cannot go onto TV and destroy the BNP, then boy we are in a mess.
Sam,I agree. I have no doubt that Hain is perfectly sincere in his views on this and that he has good reason to feel that way. I do not agree with him though.
As someone who campaigned as a young Liberal against Apartheid in SA - I suspect Peter Hain has a right to feel very strongly about this awful group of reactionaries getting a platform in this country.
has Mr Hain been to Africa recently? I would imagine not.

The UN has classed it as one of the most dangerous countries in the world and Amazon.com have stopped delivering to there as so much is being stolen.
Independence doesn't seem to have done very well there.
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