Nick Griffin’s day out

QT grabNick Griffin’s Question Time appearance was spectacularly bad. Previously on Paperhouse, I’ve said that I don’t think the QT format is equipped for challenging debate. I agree with Nelson’s reasons for not wanting the BNP on there at all. But I reckoned on the QT panel’s usual dynamic being in place: instead, three career politicians and one media professional all turned up, determined to tax Griffin hard on his obnoxious history and flimsy justifications for racism.

He looked abysmal – partly because there is no good answer to a question like, “Haven’t I seen you sharing a stage with a Ku Klux Klan leader?” (And if there is a good answer, it isn’t to say that the KKK were “largely non-violent.”) Partly, as well, because he’s got a set of ticks that howl unpleasantness. He spent the entire show hand-rubbing, leering and clapping himself with mock jollity every time a blow landed on him.

The other panellists were well-prepared and adequate, apart from Bonnie Greer, who was well-prepared and splendid. And, not being a career politician, Greer didn’t drop into the infinite recursion of immigration policy when the panel were asked about its alleged “failures”. She was able to say that immigration is constant and inevitable. Warsi, Huhne and Straw are committed to the rhetoric of toughness – and when no representative of the three major parties is willing to say that the problem with immigration might be more perceived than actual, you could wonder where, exactly, they draw the philosophical lines that separate them from the BNP.

Text © Sarah Ditum, 2009

13 thoughts on “Nick Griffin’s day out

  1. You’re right! He did look like shit, didn’t he? I mean shittier than normal, even; his hand-rubbing seemed to be masking some shaking (with rage, no doubt, at being outed again and again), his eyes doing that evil-shifty thing.

    On the whole, I thought he was properly abused, but I was disappointed that the other politicians left so many usual assumptions stand. Still, publicly abusing far-right politicians is, or should be, an end-in-itself. Do you think that it would have opened the eyes of any of the 1,000,000 that voted BNP in the last election?

  2. It was a clever move to drop out of the traditional format on there – although I haven’t had a chance to see it, only devoured as many clips as possible on BBC News because I can’t see iPlayer over here.

    However, it was also a pretty bad move to do that too, because then it smacks of stage-managing a debate for the purposes of making him look like a tit, regardless of whether or not he would have hanged himself anyway. I have to grab the episode from somewhere and see for myself, but the general outcome is that yes, it was a rout on Griffin, but that’s because it was a programme skewed toward routing him. Having said that, if he were any good then he’d have been able to come up with coherent answers – from the answers I’ve seen, I’m quote shocked he graduated from Cambridge, because he’s either woefully ignorant of British history, or deliberately stupid about it.

    Did you notice that the BNP website has basically shut down to one page? No comment on the QT performance, the blogs are all down, no tv.bnp…

  3. I don’t know about opening anyone’s eyes. I don’t think he looked statesmanlike on the show, so I doubt his performance will have done him much good; but I think his appearance alone adds a lot to people’s estimate of the party’s credibility. The BNP have reported getting 2000 new registrations (link to OpenDemocracy Network) for membership in the run up to the show. I expect they’re exaggerating a bit, but it’s probably true that the attention encouraged sign-ups. So he looked like an arse, but an arse with more members in his party. Not really sure I want to claim that as a win.

  4. I thought it was a bit of a big old mess.

    I’m sure all the students in the audience who’d read the Indy’s ’10 Reasons The BNP Are Arseholes’ that morning felt great about calling Griffin a scumbag and applauding each other, but I can’t see that they’ll have swayed away anyone who was thinking about voting for him. Meanwhile, Griffin did manage to crowbar in a few points that seemed superficially plausible (indigenous people, etc), and nobody bothered to take issue with his logical failings because they’d all come with their notes ready-prepared. :(

  5. What Jack Straw should have said: “If Griffin wants to live as a dispossessed aboriginal in the UK, I will personally take away his children, expel him from his home and send him a bottle of meths a day to support his despairing alcoholism.”

  6. The best thing about this is that, while the panel were hardly sharp shooters, he did really make himself look like a tit. “I don’t know why I’ve changed my mind” – lovely. I’m glad he was on: anybody who believes that crap can go with him. Maybe someone should have establishd that if he took his million voters that would help the immigration problem he sees

    i agree with the point above about over liberalisation though: the truth is that to simply heckle does not refute his claims (and however vile these need refutation)

  7. Except that’s not true about the members – the site was completely down for all interactive content before, during and immediately after the show. Right now the secure site has no valid security certificate and so lets you sign up for a BNP blog account to comment on the blogs (for what it’s worth, I also have one), not sign up for ‘future membership’. No such option was available then, and not now.

    Also, fifteen million hits is, well, bollocks. Alexa rankings show them pushing on an increase these past few days, but nothing like the 15m they claim. That rate, pushed them up to 10,000, that’s more than 25,000 unique hits, but if they were heading for 15m unique hits then that would have made them as popular as the BBC. On average, visitors are down, page bounce is well up, time on site is down and search engine referrals are down.

    As you rightly pointed out, the number of hits doesn’t gauge how popular a site is in good terms – only how much it’s getting mentioned.

    I got the episode, by the way. The format was annoying and Griffin-centric, although that may have been down to the fact that everyone wanted to ask him something. Even those who could be construed to be BNP supporters were asking him BNP related questions. Everyone contributed to it, so it wasn’t a gang-bang in that sense because even the BNP would see that it’s dumb to get their man in that position and then ask Chris Huhne about what the Libs would do with prisons.

    Griffin failed because his answers were twattish. I was glad to see that he did get into a little rant. I get the feeling that once the dam broke and he went on about leftist conspiracies and the rest, he knew he was fucked and was kicking himself for being goaded on it – hence the hand-wringing, shaking.

    Straw was a failure on his own part. He looked just as nervous and out of place as Griffin did, and to be honest, he was shown up on immigration – which should have been the most researched point on his notes – with his lack of valid response.

  8. Trying as best we can to ignore Griffin’s statements today about London being “ethnically cleansed” of ‘indigenous’ Britons (because, y’know, many races living together in the same city is the same as the Holocaust that apparently didn’t happen); his main point of contention was that it wasn’t a ‘proper’ Question Time because all the questions were about BNP policies and beliefs.

    Question Time is a panel of politicians debating current issues most present in the public consciousness. Inarguably two of the biggest news stories over the past couple of weeks have been Jan Moir’s crash course in distance-forensics and Nick Griffin’s appearance on QT. Both of these were discussed at length.

    This, Nick, is pretty much the definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy: you became the news of the day, appearing on a topical discussion programme about the news of the day. You clearly revelled in the attention it garnered your party leading up to the event, and then, because you had a particularly bad outing, cried foul.

    Did you honestly expect it go like this?

    Dimbleby: Nick Griffin, where do you stand on civil partnerships?
    Griffin: I think homosexuals are creepy.
    Dimbleby: Very good. Next question?

  9. The whole event was stage managed and played out in front of a studio audience of well rehearsed liberal twats. Nobody would be at their best in front of such organised hostility.
    The country is overrun with mass immigration and Labour refuses to even admit that this was a deliberate policy and Lib/Con refuse to do anything about it – go figure!

  10. Griffin had supporters in there – he got the odd light smattering of applause, and there was even a sympathetic question from a red-faced chap in a lemon-yellow jumper. I’d guess that, if anything, BNP supporters were slightly over-represented that evening, given they (you?) only got 6% of the vote. So there were plenty of illiberal twats there too. It’s just that Griffin is an incompetent speaker and obviously racist, neither of which are popular characteristics in a politician.

  11. ‘red-faced chap in a lemon-yellow jumper’

    Nice line – can I use it in a poem or a piece of FICTION?! – anyway it is easy to be a “competent speaker” when you have rehearsed every line as most of the panel and audience had obviously done – a point you neatly sidestepped.

    As for “obviously racist” – racism works both ways and there is plenty of racism (both overt and covert) towards white people by ethnic minorities.

  12. That “both ways” talking point assumes that only two racial groupings count: “white” and “everyone else”, which is the faulty logic of the white racist. There are pretty much endless permutations of prejudice against arbitrarily defined ethnic groups. None of them justify any of the others.

  13. “it is easy to be a “competent speaker” when you have rehearsed every line as most of the panel and audience had obviously done”

    Even the Daily Mail’s photoshopped version of the audience hand-out for Question Time says “write your question on the card”. Y’know, so you’ll be prepared to ask it. Preparing for what you’re going to say in a national televised public debate isn’t everyone ganging up on Nick Griffin – it’s Public Speaking 101. A class that Griffin apparently didn’t attend.

    And since you bring up sidestepping, I enjoy the way that you take Sarah’s comment about Griffin being racist and simply turn around, levelling the same accusation at ‘ethnic minorities’ rather than tackle it at all. It’s really not ‘us vs. them’ because there is no ‘us’ and there is no ‘them’.

    It also seems implicit in your statement that it’s okay for Nick Griffin to be racist to everyone who isn’t white, because they’re racist back. Unfortunately for this argument, Nick Griffin isn’t five years old, and this isn’t the playground.

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