In the 1960s one of the most celebrated British sit-coms Till Death Us Do Part appeared. Its central character was an elderly working class Londoner Alf Garnett (For American readers his character inspired that of Archie Bunker).
Garnett’s most noted characteristic was what we would call these days being non-PC, especially about race and immigration. The author Johnny Speight swore blind that he had no sympathy with the character’s views and he had created him only to show how bigoted and unpalatable they were. (The suspicion grew as the character of Garnett became more and more dominant in the sit-com and ever more outrageous in his words that Speight was actually peddling his own secret views. Speight vehemently denied this but the accusation followed him to his grave.)
The effect of the Garnett character was the exact opposite of Speight’s stated intention because he became a character who, far from being treated universally as a figure of fun or despicable, was taken by many people as a conduit for their opinions, opinions which otherwise were even in those days severely censored by a liberal media and a political class (with the exception of Enoch Powell) which had already fallen under the liberal Omerta on honest discussion of race and immigration. (The first British Race Relations Act was passed in 1965).
Something similar to the Alf Garnett effect has taken place with the BNP. It did not really matter how well or badly Griffin did on Question Time. What counted was the fact he was on it saying, amongst a good deal of confused nonsense, what large numbers of Britons felt about mass immigration and the multi-cultural reign of terror which prevents people in any normal circumstances saying what they feel about its consequences. That Griffin was crude in his claims, lacking in examples to back up his claims even where examples were readily available, for example he failed to quote one of the many Churchill statements on race which would be considered unequivocally racist today by the liberal bigot definition, and palpably nervous was of little account. What mattered was that he was saying things which had not been said in such a forum for many a long year.
The BBC, hermetically wrapped in their liberal bigot cocoon, played into his hands. There was never going to be a detailed discussion of the issues and the choice of a panel which was not only universally hostile to Griffin and to any honest discussion of immigration, but also emblematic in its make up of the grip that politically correctness has got on this country with three members of ethnic minorities out of the five panel members – Jack Straw (Jewish), Sayeeda Warsi (Asian Muslim), Bonnie Greer (black American) – ensured that the viewer would see the programme as an exercise in liberal elite control. (Had I been Griffin, before I said anything else I would have pointed out the unrepresentative nature of the panel. Coincidentally, Greer is the woman I crossed swords with over Obama’s Nobel Prize on BBC Radio 5 a couple of weeks ago. List members will be delighted to hear that for Ms Greer the panel far from being an unrepresentative travesty “celebrated a racial mix. Sayeeda Wasi was amazing and I was very moved to hear about Jack Straw’s Jewish background. I had no idea. (Telegraph 24/9/2009”. Exactly how someone supposedly very well attuned to British politics could not know Straw is Jewish is a mystery only Ms Greer, a UK resident for 23 years, can explain. Equally difficult to explain is why the BBC think she, someone who has never been elected to public office in her life, deserves to be wheeled out to give her political opinions so often.)
Add in the chairman David Dimbleby’s grossly biased questioning of Griffin – “Is it fair that the BNP has hijacked Churchill as its own?” – and the choice of questioners (disproportionately ethnic) and universally hostile questions from the audience and none but the most dishonest liberal bigot could see the programme as anything other than hideously unbalanced and unfair.
The other mistakes Griffin made were:
(1) trying to ingratiate himself with other panel members especially Greer.
(2) Smiling too much.
(3) Getting into ridiculous discussions about whether the indigenous population had been in the islands 17,000 years or not – they haven’t and even if they had it would be irrelevant.
(4) Absurdly playing the pc game by claiming that the colour of skin does not matter, the determining factor of acceptability being how long a people have been in a country, absurd because the BNP’s position has been unequivocally that race matters right up to the present, including the banning of non-whites from membership.
The most interesting single response came from Straw when Griffin was being questioned by Dimbleby on the subject of the Holocaust. Griffin said that he could not explain his original position on the Holocaust because that would put him at risk of being extradited to places such as Germany on an European Arrest Warrant. Straw immediately jumped in and stated categorically that it could not happen. This is nonsense as Holocaust Denial is one of the categories of crimes extraditable under the warrant. As a one time Foreign Secretary, a lawyer and now Justice Minister, Straw must have known that what he said was untrue. (BTW his real name is John Straw. Whilst at university he changed it to Jack Straw, in imitation of the Peasant’s Revolt leader).
It wasn’t only Griffin who was nervous on that programme, it was also Jack Straw and Chris Huhne, both of whom were utterly terrified and incoherent when the question of immigration over the past 12 years was discussed. That is why they mainstream politicians fear the BNP: they force discussion on the ultimate treason which is mass immigration. – Griffin has given so many hostages to fortune in the past with the Holocaust denial and dalliance with the likes of the Klu Klux Klan that it tells you all you need to know about the utter failure of mainstream British parties to deal with immigration that they have had the success that they have had. Griffin and the BNP are catalysts to drive the major parties towards a more reasonable position of immigration. They are doing that regardless of the quality of the membership or leader.
Some idea of the extent to which the British people feel betrayed by their political elite can be seen from the facts that 8 million tuned in – a phenomenally high number for a UK politics programme – and over 500k of hits were made to the BNP website in the next 24 hours.
The Question Time programme is on the BBC IPlayer for another 4 days. Just go to the BBC website and type in Question time and the link will come up near the top of the page. RH