Friday, 23 October 2009

That wasn't as satisfying as I might have hoped.

But then my hopes were never that high. True, Nick Griffin got a right proper pounding on Question Time tonight, and there was some comfort in that. But, as many of us expected, the very format of Question Time made it all seem like a hollow (and I hope not Pyrrhic) victory. The cheerleaders were out in force, and the BBC should be congratulated for both the producers' careful, or brilliant, selection of the audience, and for Dimbleby's performance, which was effective (though lacking a real knock-out blow; and was that really the best tie in which to confront the Spectre of Fascism?)

What I found most disappointing was entirely predictable. For instance, in the whole debate on whether the BNP have hijacked the glorious image of National Hero Winston Churchill, no one, not one person, questioned whether Churchill is at all deserving of this sacred reputation. He's not, by the way, in case you're wondering -- I wouldn't go so far to say that the BNP's claims for Churchill as on honorary member is 'correct', but it's not far off.

And that, really, was the problem. Everyone was so busy trying to stab at that disgusting pig on the panel that they still couldn't bring themselves to take on some of the sacred cows that lead to the recent electoral success of the BNP in the first place. Like whether Churchill really was the unbesmirchable hero everyone holds him to be. Like why nobody is calling UKIP -- a 'mainstream' party in the eyes of the media, but more like the bourgeois face of British xenophobia -- to task for their use of Churchill in election pamphlets. (See reminder on the right.) There was no real debate on immigration -- the parties, platitudes aside, fell back to their usual squabbling as to which of them was more against foreigners pouring onto these shores. And might there have been a sophisticated discussion of Britain relationship with Europe, given the BNP's hatred of them, too? Not likely. This fell into the usual childish noise of party-political squabbling.

There is an opinion that the far-right hasn't risen in Britain, not even in the 1930s, because that taste in the political spectrum in Britain is already well-catered for by the existing right (i.e. the Conservatives), which is plenty far-enough-right already, thanks. And though everyone had a nice pop at Nick Griffin and his despicable vitriol -- I won't call them 'ideas' or 'policies', which would give his hatred too much credence -- the continued failure of the politicians and media in this country to really challenge those leanings was in evidence on Question Time tonight. The strategy employed by so many panellists, to cast the Griffin and the BNP and Nazis completely misses the point. There is plenty of racist, authoritarian traditions indigenous to these shores for the British far-right to draw upon without them having to resort to importing the habits of Germans.

Some comment highlighted on the BBC website claimed that no one landed a knock-out punch tonight. Had Bonnie Greer have actually stood up and clocked him over the head, I would have been much happier. I'm petty that way.

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