September 07, 2009

BNP doesn't deserve political respect

A man who deserves no political respect at all...
Inviting a BNP representative to take part in Question Time will ultimately only demean the BBC's reputation

The BBC is said to be considering inviting someone from the British National party (BNP) on to Question Time – predictably a media storm has ensued. Can "No Platform with Fascists" still work? Should it still be in place? The debate has also raised some myths that typically get dragged out during these occasions. Here are some:

Myth 1: The BNP's arguments can be defeated through rational argument

This argument ignores the reason why most people vote BNP: because they're angry. The idea that they've spent time poring over policy positions of each of the parties and come to a considered decision is nonsensical.

And so the idea the BNP can be defeated via rational arguments and "exposing them" is equally deluded. As various studies on cognitive behaviour have shown, people are emotionally predisposed to the information they receive. So if they already hate the BNP, then they're likely to receive information exposing the BNP with glee. Its supporters will simply see such information as propaganda or falsehoods promoted by people with an agenda.

In fact, Nick Griffin could say whatever he wanted on Question Time, and attempts by Tory, Labour or Lib Dem MPs to expose his lies would be useless. Most BNP supporters are very unlikely to take words by any of the three parties seriously anyway. After all, when they appeal to vote anyone but the BNP it makes hardly any difference.

No one on either side will respond rationally – affiliation with extremist movements is always an emotional attachment. No amount of rational arguments will change that. The only way to affect that would be through emotional arguments.

Myth 2: Persecution will only feed the BNP's victim mentality

Yes, it will. But then, anything less than letting the BNP take over Britain and turn it into a fascist state will feed their victim mentality. The party thrives on positioning itself as the anti-establishment party which is under persecution even from the likes of the Sun (no, really!).

The BNP's core support is derived from people who think the entire nation is under the control of a vast conspiracy against the honest people of Britain. Just because it thrives off a victim mentality doesn't mean we should do anything to avoid that. After all, Islamists thrive off a victim mentality. As do terrorists. That doesn't mean we give in to their every wish, right?

Myth 3: "No Platform" doesn't work

The "No Platform" policy isn't a demand to ban the BNP. It is a democratic decision by right-thinking people not to share a platform with fascists. In fact, "No Platform" worked quite well in sidelining the BNP in mainstream conversation. It wasn't that long ago that the National Front and its affiliates were fearlessly marching through various streets in Britain and expressing support for the National Front was something to be proud of. "No Platform" changed that by actively trying to paint the BNP et al as extremist movements that right-thinking people should shun. It had huge impact.

The existence of the internet doesn't negate the need to shun the BNP – the moral point that "No Platform" agitated for still exists. The party has grown thanks to a mixture of: the Labour party abandoning grassroots politics in key areas, fears over multiculturalism, immigration, and economic collapse in many towns across England. None of them make the case for the BNP being accepted as a "normal" party. As Dr Cammaerts points out on Polis, "The liberal answer ultimately often results in granting the extreme right an open platform, thereby normalising and partly legitimising racism and racist discourses in society in the process."

Myth 4: The BNP has unprecedented popularity

We've had the biggest recession in living memory, a huge upsurge in EU immigration (driving down wages) and a decline in manufacturing over the past decade. The three main parties are held in low regard, partly thanks to the expenses scandal, and still the BNP barely increased their percentage share of the vote. The Green party did better. In fact, they had much more support in the 70s and 80s. And so I refuse to buy the view that the BNP is suddenly a huge force to be reckoned with that needs to be represented across all levels of society.

A question for the BBC

There is a deeper question here for the BBC. Is it merely an independent platform that should offer space to any sufficiently popular viewpoint or should it exercise more editorial judgment?

For example, there is a significant movement of people online who believe they aren't being told "the truth" about who was behind 9/11 and 7/7.

There are a huge amount of "birthers" in America who believe Obama was not born in the US despite the overwhelming evidence. There are the climate-change denialists, the creationists and even the Holocaust deniers. A straightforward reporting position would require that the BBC give roughly equal time to two opposing points of view in the name of impartiality, even if the evidence overwhelmingly contradicts one side.

A similar problem applies to the BBC's formats. Question Time is basically a populist shouting match where facts and figures don't have time to get checked. Someone such as Dan Hannan MEP can claim 84% of our laws are made in Europe and no one calls him out on his rubbish. Nick Griffin could similarly claim he's not racist and repeat lies that go unchallenged live on air. BNP pamphlets have repeatedly featured lies in the past. Who will have the research on hand to challenge that? His fellow QT panellists won't. And so the BBC will be used to spread lies by a party in thrall to antisemitism, racism, sexism and general conspiracy theory madness.

All this will only demean the BBC's reputation.

Many of the BNP's supporters say they're only trying to protect Britain from those who intend to destroy it. But the BBC is giving space to an organisation that itself is anti-democratic, authoritarian and averse to our liberal democratic traditions. It seeks to destroy the very basis of the nation it claims it's trying to protect. Why shouldn't it be treated with less support and respect than the other political parties?

Comment is free

17 comments:

troll alert said...

The Times Online article about New Labour agreeing to appear on Question Time has more trolls posting ugly pro-BNP comments than the entire Lord Of The Rings put together.

Hasn't Rupert Murdoch realised that Stormfronters tell each other to post dozens of fake personas each time a story about the BNP hits the net.

Some newspapers have stopped comments after BNP articles because of hijacking by consensus cheaters, but the Keyboard Army are still busy on the Times and Telegraph, sadly.

Wander if these stupid newspaper editors actually believe support for the BNP is the troll-enhanced 60% of newspaper opinion instead of the actual maximum figure of less than 5% of England.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6824099.ece

NewsHound said...

http://enemiesofreason.blogspot.com/

Quite an interesting and informative anti-sensationalist left of centre political blog that it might be worth reciprocating links to. Paul Foot is amongst the contributers to this press watch which keeps an eye on newspaper (and newspaper troll) racism.

NewsHound said...

Another angle of the QT fiasco:

http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/09/06/bnp-on-question-time-a-farce-made-in-heaven/

Troll Alerta said...

BNP TROLL OF THE MONTH CONTEST SUGGESTION: -

Seeing that the BNP neo-Nazi trolls are getting more cheeky and numerous on all sorts of chat sites and newspaper comments sections, I think the time has come for Lancaster Unity to award the BNP Troll Of The Month Award, judging the most brainless comments trolls upon spelling, dogma, cut and paste abilities, and sheer, downright incomrehensability.

By having a poll where examples of troll comments can be voted on for the monthly winner, Ketlan, as well as taking the piss out of Simon Darby's Keyboard Warriors, the editors of online publications and chat sites might finally wake-up and realise they are being taken for a ride by the far right, logging in each time there is a BNP or immigration story with dozens of fake identities.


The BNP neo-Nazi trolls who use the Telegraph and Daily Mail should win, but there's plenty of BNP troll activity in the Times.

Anonymous said...

There would have to be major points given for "multiple identities", lol.

UK Fightback said...

There's alot of great stuff on Lancster Unity but, sadly, in this case another very foolish blog posting has passed the editorial scrutiny of Lancaster Unity - (quote) "Nick Griffin could say whatever he wanted on Question Time, and attempts by Tory, Labour or Lib Dem MPs to expose his lies would be useless"?!

"Useless" for every purpose except for persuading 98% of the UK population NOT TO VOTE BNP.

No-one should ever provide a platform for the BNP, but refusing to debate them in arenas where they already have a platform undermines the public credibility and the debating and communication skills of Anti-Fascists, and allows BNP propaganda to reach its target audiences unchallenged.

Anonymous said...

I am very worried by this new development following on from the BNP opening up their membership to non whites I think the situation will get a lot worse now, I live in a pro BNP area and im allready the victim of gay and homophobic behaviour because im different. My partner likes to wear womens clothes and this singles us out to local thugs our lives have become hell and we are seriously considering leaving the UK forever as nothing seems to stop the BNP

Joe Chapman said...

"And so the idea the BNP can be defeated via rational arguments and "exposing them" is equally deluded."

I've never suggesting that exposing them alone would be defeat them but I find this slagging off a bit much.

I find this site an excellent source of information but I'm not feeling the love here!

Anonymous said...

"The BNP neo-Nazi trolls who use the Telegraph and Daily Mail should win, but there's plenty of BNP troll activity in the Times."

The Guardian 'Comment Is Free' is full of BNP supporters too - You used to get some good debate on there but the BNP bores have ruined it with their playground arguments (which was their intention, I suppose).

By looking at how racists dominate newspaper websites you could get the impression that the fascists have enormous nationwide support and are only a few years from power. However, we all know that a small number of people use all their free time posting on these boards under multiple aliases.

They really should get out more.

Anonymous said...

It's not just the same spelling mistakes, bad grammar, propaganda badly disguised as reasoned argument, etc, that gives the BNP posters away. It's the use of the word indigenous which appears to be compulsory for any BNP post. It's the only word with four syllables they can use, as a synonym for white. They also recommend their own contributions a lot, as if it's going to lead to a BNP landslide at the next election.

Benny Brooke said...

I think the problem is, Joe, Question Time is, according to the BBC executives, not a debating show where guests can be grilled, more a news and politics commentary where guests like Gri££in will be PROTECTED FROM CROSS-EXAMINATION and will appear to the general public, just like anyone else.

Gri££in will get an easy time, and will appear quite normal, especially as the show is edited and stage-managed.

If Gri££in would be grilled, this would be feckin' brilliant, but he's not, he's just one of the panel, undergoing a PR exercise.

If anybody really think's Gri££in will blow his gasket on Question Time, this is sadly wishful thinking. The panelists know each question beforehand, as they are in contact with the political researchers.

The BBC sucks big-time!!!

They bend over backwards to try to be fair to ultra-fair and politically correct by giving racists free speech so much, they break their necks!

Blue said...

According to BBC executives, Question Time is not a debating show. It is merely a chance for the panelists to discuss topical events, what is happening in the news and the parliament.

Nick Griffin will be well-rehearsed, and won't put a foot out of line, knowing is he pretends he is not racist, he will win more votes.

Raymond said...

"However, we all know that a small number of people use all their free time posting on these boards under multiple aliases."


I bet they wished general elections operated like this

Anonymous said...

NewsHound said...
http://enemiesofreason.blogspot.com/

Quite an interesting and informative anti-sensationalist left of centre political blog that it might be worth reciprocating links to. Paul Foot is amongst the contributers to this press watch which keeps an eye on newspaper (and newspaper troll) racism.

1:43 PM

Think that's a brilliant idea. But you might be in for a shock.

Anonymous said...

Myth 4: The BNP has unprecedented popularity

We've had the biggest recession in living memory, a huge upsurge in EU immigration (driving down wages) and a decline in manufacturing over the past decade. The three main parties are held in low regard, partly thanks to the expenses scandal, and still the BNP barely increased their percentage share of the vote. The Green party did better. In fact, they had much more support in the 70s and 80s. And so I refuse to buy the view that the BNP is suddenly a huge force to be reckoned with that needs to be represented across all levels of society.

This happened because of the onslought in he press. Now they have more airtime they can answer the press head on. Then you will see their votes go up. That will be the problem.

Anonymous said...

Another point people seem to be missing about a Griffin appearance on Question Time is that there is no guarantee that race/immigration issues will be discussed.

Remember, the questions are based on the political events of that particular week. This means Griffin could be discussing the recession, pensions, unemployment, education, health or any other less-sensitive political issue.

This isn't good news either as it will give viewers the impression that the BNP has a full political manifesto and that immigration is just a small part of its agenda.

Joe Chapman said...

Sorry but I find this article to be contradictory, poorly thought out and also insulting. I accept that people have differing views about how to tackle the problem but I object to people insinuating that I'm wasting my time or even deluded in trying to expose The BNP.

Myth 2 isn't a myth for a start, the article presents it as a myth and then agrees that it's actually true straight after!

I'm finding this whole issue is being badly handled and makes me want to go my own way. There's no unity here, just some people trying to assert their way of doing things, at least, that is the way it's starting to seem.