The problem with the invitation for the leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin to appear on Question Time, is that it is totally disproportionate to the influence held by this political party.
If we take the results of the last General Election into account, the BNP gained less than 200,000 votes. Less than 0.5% of all votes cast. At the European Election in the summer of this year, they gained two seats and according to the BBC, 6.2% of votes. This may seem huge but these figures do not include Northern Ireland. With the two republican parties in Northern Ireland registering 200,000 votes, when added to the Unionist vote of another 200,000, this significantly reduces this figure. In 2004, the BNP registered 4.9%, again ignoring Northern Ireland. Thus their vote percentage rose 1.3%. This hardly represents a major bump, especially considering that there were 2 million fewer votes cast in 2009 than in 2004, thus more than 10% fewer votes, with Labour in particular suffering from voter apathy and disaffection. Thus, with all this in mind, we can see that a major shift in attitudes to the BNP is far from proven. A smaller percentage of votes than the Green Party not to mention, UKIP, Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservative Party. Yet where on Question Time is Caroline Lucas, Leader of the Green Party? She appeared once before the European elections, however, there are no plans for her to return. Her previous appearance prior to that was in 2005. The Green Party gained more votes than the BNP at a national level, in 2005, and at a european level in 2004 as well as this year as I have stated. Alongside that, the BNP have no MPs at Westminster, unlike Respect, the SNP, Plaid Cymru,the DUP,the SDLP, the UUCP and Plaid Cymru.
Let me make this clear, I have no problem with members of smaller parties being invited onto Question Time, especially when those minor parties command a fair degree of popular support e.g. UKIP who despite having no MPs at Westminster command respectable figures at elections, with 15% support this year. Members of minor parties often make valid points which the representatives of the larger parties often do not. Though I do not agree with their central policy position, Nigel Farage of UKIP, is an eloquent and sharp member of the political establishment and his insights are often incisive and accurate. By the same token, other members of the political elite are given rather more credence and publicity than they merit, for example George Galloway (who ridiculously described Saddam Hussein as a “brave” man.) I am merely arguing that the BNP, by being invited onto Question Time, are being credited with more political influence than they actually possess, which I feel is dangerous.
Now that the BNP have been invited onto the show, it cannot be rescinded as this would give the party a martyr-complex. I do, however, think that there is no basis for inviting this party in the first place.
The only possible explanation, and one that I hope has no foundation in truth, is that this is a cynical ploy to improve ratings by talking up what remains an extremely small and insignificant little party that is, purely because of its ideology, given the air of publicity.
It is thus irresponsible and wholly inappropriate of the BBC to have issued this invitation to Nick Griffin.