Did Griffin’s Question Time change anything?

A survey (PDF) by YouGov for the Daily Telegraph polled 1,314 adults after Griffin’s Question Time appearance and compared the results with a survey taken during the summer. (The figures in the left-hand column are from 29 May to 4 June; those in the right-hand column from 22-23 October.) The results show such tiny shifts that it seems fair to say that the programme caused no change in voting intentions or political sympathies.

YouGov The BNP’s “total positive” score fell by two points, its “total negative” score fell by one, and its “ambivalent” score increased by two – so far, Question Time seems to have been neither a devastating exposure of the BNP viewpoint, or a crossing-over into the mainstream. But over on page two of the PDF, there’s a more depressing figure: 22% of those surveyed reported that they “would or might consider voting BNP”. Considering that only 3% say that they intend to vote BNP, that’s a whole chunk of people who don’t identify with the BNP yet don’t see their politics as off-limits – presumably including people who read and believe headlines like these.

It’s regularly asserted that we need “debate” about immigration. But immigration is constantly being debated, and as Alex Massie points out, the terms of that debate are almost entirely in agreement with the BNP. Immigration is presented as a problem which must be controlled, culture is offered as an internally consistent entity that will be destroyed by change – and we saw on Question Time that none of the three major parties is willing to step away from this strikingly illiberal line. The authoritarian, isolationist tendency is already at home in UK p0litics. It’s never really gone away.

**Edit ** LibCon highlights possible efforts by the BNP to bias YouGov polls in their favour. If that’s true, and this is still the best showing they could manage, they’re not doing it very well.

Text © Sarah Ditum, 2009