BNP on the BBC
Padraig Reidy: "Isn't it better to challenge the far right in public?"
12 Oct 09

“Would the BBC allow any other party’s spin doctors to appear anonymously?” asks Peter Hain in the Guardian, referring to the BNP’s “director of publicity” Mark Collett being introduced in an interview on Radio 1’s Newsbeat as merely “BNP supporter Mark”.

Well, yes. Yes they would. In 2006, the Today programme allowed Abu Izzadeen, a senior member of far-right Jihadist group al Muhajiroun a lengthy interview without identifying his senior status in the group. In fact, they went one better and neglected to mention he was a member of any group at all, allowing him to rant about Muslim anger without once questioning his credentials in speaking for Muslims. Izzadeen’s al Muhajiroun friend Anjem Choudary also frequently appears on BBC programmes. Bear in mind no one has ever voted for al Muhajiroun:the group believes democracy is blasphemous, and do their best to stop people voting.

Anyway, back to Peter Hain’s argument:

Furthermore, there is a distinction between those who have voted for the BNP and the party itself. In June, at the European election that triggered this BBC decision, many voted for the BNP as a protest against the mainstream parties at the height of the MPs’ expenses scandal. Few of these voters would recognise, still less endorse, the BNP’s virulent racism and its discriminatory policy towards black people, Muslims and Jews in Britain. The number of people in the UK who accept the racist and fascist agenda of the BNP must be far less than 1% of the population and there is no justification for giving them such an important platform.

I hate to say it, but I think Peter Hain’s one per cent is extremely optimistic. And if Hain is claiming that people vote for the BNP without knowing what they stand for, isn’t it better that the party be challenged in a public forum such as Question Time?

By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.