Update 5.15pm: BNP 1, Civilisation 0. Moronic anti-fascist protesters are preventing Griffin from getting into BBC Television Centre. Griffin has just told the media that millions of television viewers are being denied their right to hear what an elected politician has to say. He will probably get into the building, but this is all valuable P.R. for the fascists. Doh!
Update 9.30pm: BNP 1, Civilisation 1. A Sun journalist tweets from the studio that Griffin got an “absolute pasting.” I had no intention of writing about the BNP and Question Time any further, principally because – in being part of the YouTube generation – I do not actually own a television and therefore have no means of watching the programme. But then – incredibly! – I remembered that there was what looked like a TV in the hallway cupboard, and indeed it is a TV. There is no sound and the image is in black and white, but with a few encouraging thumps it will soon be ready for action.
Update 10.00pm: A few words of reflection.The BNP have lately become the subject of an obsessive hysteria within the media and, verily, they are worthy of study, not because they herald the arrival of some sort of fascism, but because they form the focus of an ancient and very conservative fear amongst the liberal-left that the working class are themselves closet fascist. The appearance of Nick Griffin on Question Time this evening is therefore akin to that of the demonic monkey in Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Green Tea.” There is nothing to be afraid of – the demon does not even exist – but the hysterical gibbering of the afraid provides fascinating material for the psychoanalyst.
Update 1015pm: BBC News are now showing the first clips from Question Time. Nick Griffin comes across as sweaty and incoherent, probably because he is merely an attention-seeker rather than an impassioned fascist, and he has ended up in water which is far too deep for him. He disassociates himself from Holocaust denial and the prospect of mass deportations.
There is a lot of talk amongst commentators about the fascist threat, which is all a little silly. In the 1930s, Mosley was supported by several members of the aristocracy and a national newspaper. We still have a long way to go before Griffin can fill Mosley’s boots.
Update 1030pm: The TV is working, but it is hissing and groaning. I’ve got a bucket of water to throw over it in case it bursts into flames. On the plus side, I have Pringles. On the down side, there is nothing much to drink: some Southern Comfort, but no mixer; and some cans of Tennents left over from a party a few months ago.
I have been looking at the photo montage of the protests over on the Guardian website. The protesters all look like yahs. You can imagine their parents arriving in a fleet of SUVs to pick them up afterwards. When I was a student there were similar protests about the geriatric French fascist Jean Marie Le Pen – for all that anybody noticed them, they may well have been held on the moon – but there is always a fashionable hate figure of the moment. I wonder if Le Pen is even still alive. And his fascist threat too, of course.
Update 1045pm: Oh no, they’re all talking about history. Politicians should really be herded away from this subject.
Jack Straw is an odd character – he looks about 400 years old – but I guess that he has been around for so long that everyone has grown desensitized to how repulsive and creepy he is. Nick Griffin looks like a wily fat farmer – he would perhaps be happiest riding around Northamptonshire on a tractor. Everybody is giving him a good telling off! Dimbleby tells him off for smiling – very like a primary school teacher.
Update 1050pm: Everybody is talking about history very wildly. Bonnie Greer is trying to argue that Churchill was the descendant of Mohawk Indians. A member of the audience suddenly starts going on about Ted Heath. There is a very histrionic atmosphere in the studio – we will not tolerate this intolerance! – everybody is telling off Nick Griffin and he is just smirking and shrugging. Bonnie Greer gets a good punch in about the Ku Klux Klan, although it still feels a little mad careering around Western history.
Update 1105pm: Everybody is starting to enjoy the kicking. Jack Straw is cracking jokes, the panel are lightening up. Griffin is looking like an idiot, although, to be fair, so is Peter Hain, who would have had this monument of liberal outrage largely pulled off the air.
Griffin is suddenly on the up – when challenged about Islamophobia, he declares that Jack Straw has the blood of thousands of Muslims on his hands due to the Iraq War. Bit hard to argue against that.
Update 1115pm: Jack Straw is suddenly having to explain why his immigration policy is to the right of the BNP’s. He looked happier with all the cheering. Baroness Warsi is quite naughtily describing the voter disaffection which she encountered in her election campaign in Dewsbury – of which Private Eye accused her of anti-immigrant scaremongering. As Tychy has previously noted, Nick Griffin was at least voted into office, whilst Baroness Warsi is a baroness.
Everybody is reciting hoary old cliches. The BNP is carelessly described as “far right,” when – as far as I can gage – it is something of a Communist movement, which advocates massive state intervention in the economy and the end to a free market in labour.
Update 1130pm: Things get briefly interesting in a discussion about a “population cap.” I rather favour a population increase – maybe this website would get a few more readers.
I’ve suddenly realised that I do not have a television license. It’s a bit too late for the enforcement officers to call now.
The programme is a bit more relaxed now. The panel are no longer united in persecuting Nick Griffin, and they are starting to bicker about each other’s immigration policies.
Update 1145pm: Despite all the stuff which was thrown at him, Nick Griffin remained intact. At times, the show reminded me of an auto de fe or a Stalinist show trial, with Griffin being forced to confess publicly to his racism, or whatever watery form his racism now takes. Question Time was overall disappointing – Griffin is a veteran of unpleasant political confrontations, he took it all in his stride, and he was never really short of answers, however weak they at times sounded. The BBC played it very safe, preferring to bombard Griffin with outrage rather than explore his admittedly nonsensical ideas. Dimbleby kept re-acquainting him with quotes from his political past, which made the show seem like a rabid version of This is Your Life.
At the end, everybody seemed to be congratulating each other on defeating Nick Griffin. Given that he was on his own against everybody else, it would have been a bit strange if he had won.
I’m putting the TV back in the cupboard. Goodnight.