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Question Time Goes Panto!

QTjpgOn Thursday night a record audience tuned in to Question Time to hear the views of Nick Griffin, MEP and other panelists on important events happening right now. Issues like the national postal strike, new bankers bonuses and the increasingly bloody Afghan war. Instead the BBC, in a desperate bid to placate Labour opposition to Nick Griffin’s appearance, caved in and changed the format of the program to a BNP witch-hunt. The Question Time production team went out of its way to make the show confrontational and controversial.

The studio audience was hand-picked in advance to include people likely to ask Griffin difficult questions, such as the Jewish schoolboy Joel Weiner and Khush Klare, the financial services director of Indian descent.

Producers abandoned the usual wide-ranging format of the programme and chose instead questions designed to highlight the BNP’s policies on race. Others were instructed to make their questions “short, sharp and confrontational” – with the word confrontational underlined on their crib sheet.

The panel members, Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary; Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the shadow minister for community cohesion; Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman; and Bonnie Greer, the playwright and broadcaster, were accused of ganged up on Nick Griffin. Three panelists and the Chairman appeared to have remarkably similar briefing notes.

The Times summed-up the nature of the show well:-

“Griffin was tormented like a crazed bull in a bullring. The studio audience was almost entirely hostile, hurling banderillas of rage and contempt at him, and most of the panellists felt obliged to wear their indignation ostentatiously on their sleeves.”

They went on:-

“What happened on Question Time was not rational debate. It was argument by emotion, argument by abuse. It was the very opposite of free speech. At times the show was truly infantile, with people interrupting each other in their frenzy. Dimbleby himself protested against it at one point. It struck me at the time as an emotional lynching. Griffin has since used the word, with some reason, and says he intends to take legal action.”

Spiked commented:-

“It was a cultural lynching of Griffin by members of a political elite bereft of ideas and lost for words. It was a cynical performance by politicians and BBC bigwigs, designed to demonstrate their inheren”t goodness and sense of mission against the easy target of a bumbling buffoon with backward ideas. It was a calculated act of moral distancing, an attempt to conjure up two moral universes – Us and Him – at a time when British political life has little else going for it. And it involved, not open, adult debate, but its opposite: the suppression of discussion, analysis and nuance, all buried beneath the theatrical display of the new Non-Nick consensus.”

As a member of the National Liberal Party I am not surprisingly more liberal than Nick Griffin on a range of issues including homosexuality and relgious differences. Frankly I would like to have seen him give a clearer answer on his current position on Holocaust denial. As a personal friend of his, however, I don’t buy the demonisation. It’s not the Nick I know and I would have liked the public to get a more rounded view of him. If the intention of the programme was to ‘expose’ BNP policies it failed miserably since there was scant real discussion of them. There were only real or fabricated quotes attributable to Nick Griffin flung around. Nick Griffin was bullied by a biased panel and chair in front of an unrepresentative audience. I would have liked to see a real debate.

As the hysteria begins to subside the BBC should regain its good name by being courageous enough to run a normal QT which includes Nick Griffin. Only them will the public be able to judge the policies of the BNP in fair debate. Only then will the BBC be seen as truly impartial.

As lovers of freedom and democracy I hope you will spare a moment to sign this petition which seeks redress:-

“We the undersigned:

1. Support the BBC decision to invite Nick Griffin to appear on Question Time.

2. Denounce Labour Ministers for seeking to interfere with the editorial independence of the BBC and undermine its’ duty of due impartiality.

3. Denounce the partisan and biased nature of the show and the abandonment of its’ normal format.

4. Urge the BBC to produce an edition of Question Time at the earliest opportunity including Nick Griffin, MEP, where he is given the opportunity to comment on topical news items alongside other panelists.

5. Urge the BBC to publicly apologise to Mr Griffin for the harassment and demonisation he was subjected to.

This is not a Party political issue and by signing this petition I make no statement in support of the policies of the BNP. Simply fair play.”

You might also want to make a complaint to the BBC about this disgusting programme using their online form:-

Please pass these links and text onto others who may be interested in taking action.

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