Friday, October 23, 2009

Question Time evaluation

For many years, people have argued that if only the BNP were taken on and debated against in public, they would be exposed and their support would collapse. We can now start to do a bit of an evaluation of how this approach is working.

In 2007, a team of debating champions, by their own fantastically modest account, defeated Nick Griffin in debate in the Oxford Union by forcing him to speak "the angry, racist language of demogoguery". And last night, 8 million people watched him debate on Question Time, in a performance which every single newspaper reported on their front page today was a complete disaster for him.

According to the theory, this should lead to a fall in support for the BNP. Admittedly, there is weak evidence so far for this, in that the BNP got nearly 1 million votes a year and a bit after their arguments were "demolished" in the Oxford Union. But that only reached a tiny audience, and presumably the effect of Question Time will be much greater.

So would anyone like to venture a prediction about how we could measure the damage that this has done to the BNP? For example:

-How many members will they lose as a result of this 'disaster'?
-How much will their share of the vote fall in opinion polls?
-How much less will they receive in donations in the next financial quarter, compared to the previous financial quarter?
-How many fewer people will feel positive towards them, and how many more people will feel negative towards them? (In June 2009, YouGov found that 11% of people felt positively about them and 72% negatively - it's worth remembering that the BNP are the most hated political party in the UK, including amongst white working class people).

And if, in fact, the evidence suggests that they have gained money, members or support after Question Time, what does that say about the strategy of giving them a platform and debating with them? What needs to be changed in the future to make this tactic more successful? Should it be abandoned, or is the principle of giving the BNP a platform so vital that anti-fascists should support it, even if it leads to a growth in support for fascism?


For me, the most depressing bit of Question Time came in the discussion on immigration. After half an hour of everyone attacking Nick Griffin with various degrees of effectiveness, the panel and audience turned to discussing an actual area of policy.

Jack Straw was arguing in defence of government policies which set out to starve people into leaving Britain, which has just introduced a policy borrowed from a right-wing Australian government and which have imposed far more controls on immigration than in the days of Thatcher. And the Tories, Liberal Democrats, BNP and the audience queued up to denounce the government for being too soft on immigrants. Nick Griffin may not be a very accomplished media performer, but it's not very long ago that the kinds of arguments that were being parroted last night by mainstream politicians would have been regarded as the views of fringe right-wing extremists like the BNP.


At 1:42 pm , Anonymous tim f said...

Didn't watch the thing (was on my way back from protesting against it, and probably wouldn't have watched it anyway), but agree with every word of that.

At 9:24 pm , Anonymous Amy said...

It is unfortunate that there are people with the same views as Griffin. They should not be allowed to be in politics.

At 9:19 am , Blogger Quietzapple said...

I gather that the BNP got 6% of the vote in the Euros and according to BBC Breakfast now has 4% of the "How would you vote tomorrow" - both look like registering a protest votes to me.

But see how the Jersey tax exile Billionaire Barclay Bros headline the facts, which is then carried BIG on the BBC?

"20% would consider voting BNP" or some such.

The Billionaire media and their followers (like the BBC & Guarnind) act so as to reduce Labour and build up the tories. They did not Big up UKIP after the Euros, despite the fact that UKIP got more votes in some UK Parl Constituencies than the Tories did.

(as may readily be inferred from the Guardinid lists:

Try Totnes which includes parts of W Devon & Torbay)

The billionaires would rather a nazi puppet like Griffin, or a wannabe like Chameleon than a good Labour Government.

So they and their familiars lie, and their craven BBC & Guardian follow, meekly . . .

At 12:29 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the area of Migration as in so much else ( benefits civil liberty; war in Iraq afganistan etc etc ) Labour has adopted right wing policies to pander to racists warmongering autoritarian reactionary people. Labour are the reason for the rise of the BNP as they are legitimising these policies.

Labour says yes we hate immigrants and single mothers; people on welfare; believe in id cards and secret Inquests etc

So why not vote BNP?

How can you "Debate" when you keep moving away from any vision based on Democratic Socialism? And embrace big business and illeberal ideas? Phoney Tony and Jackboot Straw are not impressive in the least.

At 10:56 am , Blogger Quietzapple said...


"In the area of Migration as in so much else ( benefits civil liberty; war in Iraq afganistan etc etc ) Labour has adopted right wing policies to pander to racists warmongering autoritarian reactionary people."

Tax credits - working, family and pension are right wing?

Ejecting the mass murderer Hussein and opposing the Taliban so as to protect ourselves from Islamo-fascists are right wing acts?

Restricting immigration from countries outside the EU is right wing?

Bit like the Billionaire Press response to the 4% BNP Poll showing, more is less, crazy is correct.


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