Well the reaction quotes are in from last nights Question Time, as are the viewing figures (7.9m, easily beating the previous 3.8m water mark at the height of the MPs expenses scandal). I’m not sure I’m cynical enough to accuse the BBC of engineering the media storm on the run up to boost ratings but it certainly promised to be a media circus.
I have no problem with allowing the BNP (now they have national representation) to come onto programmes like Question Time. Free speech is not a privilege that can only extend to the right-on. Nothing from last night has changed my view that when exposed to questioning the facade of respectability quickly falls away to expose their true colours. I was a little disappointed that the odds where obviously stacked against Griffin and will probably re-enforce the idea he was brow beaten in the minds of some. While I don’t think Dimbleby was totally biased as the chair he certainly wanted to make sure Griffin was pinned down on some of the things he has said in the past. Unfortunately the whole thing degenerated into a bit of an unstructured clusterf**k. This meant many opportunities for Griffin to hang himself on the rope he’d been supplied with got lost in the interruption and barracking.
The questions were all focused on the few areas where the BNP have a political view namely immigration and Islam. It was obvious members of the audience wanted to ask wider questions to expose them as a one trick pony they are, however it was not to be.
It was disappointing to see the failure of most of the other politicians to deal with the issues the BNP so obviously play on. There is unease about radical Islam and the level of immigration out there but it seems people are worried about being labelled a racist for even questioning the current received opinion. I was impressed with Baroness Warsi who seemed to be the only one willing to tackle the subject of immigration.
I’ll just add a brief aside to the new interactivity offered by micro-blogging sites like Twitter. No longer is interactivity gated by sending text messages to the BBC in the hope it gets published on some red button feed. Now everyone can join in by tagging their posts (in this case #bbcqt), truly a democratising technology. I’m sure there will be analysis of the trends in the next day or so but it does seem the twitterati are generally anti-BNP and that view didn’t change over the program.