Rod Liddle

Debating the BNP

Debating the BNP
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There is a thoughtful blog on these pages from Fraser, about the BNP’s now confirmed appearance on Question Time. I agree with most of it, although not the point that Nick Griffin is a good debater: at best, you might argue that the jury is out on his debating abilities, as he has never before been afforded the opportunity to debate. At worst, we might say that he is too easily thrown by some of the manifest stupidities within the BNP’s manifesto; policies one suspects he might like to jettison but is, for the moment at least, unable to do so.

One interesting mode of attack would be to ask him about Islam, an ideology which these days he knows it is politically expedient to attack. It was not always so, of course; Griffin was one of the first politicians in the western world to send congratulations to Khomeni upon the success of the Iranian revolution; he has also distributed copies of Gaddafy’s Little Green Book. Until comparatively recently the far, far, right in this country had quite a soft spot for Islam, not least on account of its rigorous and unyielding approach to the old enemy, Israel. Griffin may say now that Islam is a “wicked” religion, but there is scarcely a cigarette paper’s breadth between his ideology and that of, say, Hizb ut-Tahrir. Even down to a mistrust of international capitalism and, indeed, the very root of that mistrust, anti-semitism. The BNP is anti-Islam now for no more profound ideological reason than it hates wogs.

Now Jack Straw has announced that he will debate with the BNP; quite right and good for him. I do not really understand why this should have been a matter of dispute. Foul the BNP may or may not be, but it has the support of a fairly sizeable minority of our voters. The thing not to do is to either bellow at Griffin in the manner of almost all previous BNP interviews on the BBC, but to take him seriously. He has, after all, successfully sequestered one million votes – almost entirely from the Labour Party. And then lets see how good a debater Mr Griffin is.