Fraser Nelson

Straw: Labour’s choice to take on Nick Griffin

Straw: Labour's choice to take on Nick Griffin
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Jack Straw has announced that the BNP edition of Question Time will be aired on 22 October and that he will be Labour's choice to take on Nick Griffin. Great news for the BNP. Labour should have sent a street fighter, not a desk general. Jon Cruddas is far and away the best BNP baiter in the Labour party, touring Dagenham council houses and talking voters out of supporting Griffin's party. Straw has in the past been accused of bending brutish foreign policy to assuage Muslims in his Blackburn constituency, and the closest he gets to BNP fighting is writing pieces for his local newspaper telling Muslims not to wear the veil when visiting him in his constituency office. But he is playing the hard man to the BBC today:

"Wherever we have had BNP problems in my area and when we have fought them hard, we've pulled back and won the seats back. And that's what we have to do. We've got to make the argument for people and I am delighted to do so."

And with his far from impregnable 8,009 majority, I suspect Straw will also be delighted to get coverage in what will probably be one of QT's most watched episodes.

Odds are that Michael Gove will be the Tory choice - the logic being that his formidable debating skills compensate for his abject lack of experience - but he hardly carries war wounds from the ghettoes of Surrey Heath. The Lib Dems will probably put up Sarah Teather. The QT editors do not choose the party people, but will probably select two others. Shami and Sir Andrew Green? We will soon see.

P.S. I understand that Straw was asked to do this the week before last by No.10. I’m not saying he’ll do a bad job – just that I am far from convinced that he knows the BNP as well as Cruddas or even the likes of Siobhan McDonagh (who successfully kept them out of Morden). Geographically, the North-West is better for the BNP as its support correlates with Muslim population. There is no correlation between BNP support and Afro-Caribbean population, say. In other words, the BNP today is more a product of kulturkampf than racist tension.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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