The BNP on the BBC’s Question Time: Fallout and Ramifications

Brits (mostly indigenous) protesting the BNP during Nick Griffin’s Question Time performance

Alex Kurtagic has already described British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin’s appearance on the high profile BBC Television programme Question Time, 24 October 2009). Here I add to Mr. Kurtagic’s account by focusing on the lessons to be learned from its reception including the ideological pathology it revealed. But first some observations on the program.

The event, 22 October 2009

This program amounted to a public flaying, a verbal lynching of a lone victim by a mob that somehow failed to apprehend the unfairness of their joint actions. The spectacle demeaned all involved.

Referees often take sides to help the weaker party, understandable if not quite Marquess of Queensberry. On this occasion the “moderator” took the side of the stronger party against the weaker. The result was a foregone conclusion.

The referee on this occasion, a Mr. Dimbleby, took sides with both feet. He interrupted and cast slurs. Griffin was rarely able to complete a thought let alone a sentence. Just one example: Near the beginning of proceedings: Dimbleby asked Griffin to explain his claim that the BNP would be the only party that would accept Winston Churchill in contemporary Britain. As Griffin began to answer Dimbleby, speaking in parallel and at reduced volume slipped in a follow-up question: “Why have you hijacked his reputation?” This second question simultaneously interrupted the answer and conveyed a slur against Griffin’s character and motives in a way that impeded his defending himself. Because Griffin was beginning to speak he might not have caught the gist of Dimbleby’s sotte voce thrust. Even if he had heard, attempting to deal with it first would have necessitated interrupting his own train of thought. Dimbleby’s tactics were as low as they come in a session that approached blood sport.

Griffin was brave to subject himself to such an onslaught. He held up for the hour, only flinching in the form of nervous smiles and laughs out of sync with the feeding frenzy centered upon him. He affected amiable banter with the Black American playwright sitting beside him — banter which was not reciprocated. Indeed, she commented that “at one point, I had to restrain myself from slapping him.”

Griffin: Amiable banter with a Black American playwright Bonnie Greer

Griffin’s performance was not adequate to impress the educated classes. Few individuals would have been adequate under the circumstances. Nevertheless some of the fault lay with Griffin. He could not provide examples of press bias when asked by the “mediator”; he did not or could not deny an embarrassing statement available on in which he portrays BNP policies as a ploy intended to prepare the way for more hardline ones. His new policy of withdrawing criticism of Jewish subversion and supporting Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians is ill-conceived because it is unprincipled and sure to undermine the BNP’s credibility in the long run.

One gaffe was failing immediately to confess to once denying the holocaust when challenged. It is not pretty to see someone dodge and weave especially when there is no need. So what if he once doubted that an atrocity occurred? He should have attacked the question, should have boasted of a generally critical stance and suspicion of authority that mark the British character.

Another problem is overly rapid speech. This is a mark of intelligence but it can also appear harried. Statesmen speak with regular diction and do not allow themselves to be hastened, least of all by impertinent journalists. Statesmen often pause before answering. They show their ease and authority by leaving room for others to interrupt. Rushing to fill silences is self-defeating.

At present Griffin does not have the gravitas to attract the middle- and upper-middle classes. Until he improves or new leaders emerge, this limits the BNP to a populism unable to capture a significant segment of the intellectual and managerial high ground. It can slow the rot but as it is presently constituted, it cannot save the culture or the nation.

What is needed is the involvement of people of exceptional presence. Not superhumans but articulate, self-possessed, and principled. Perhaps the unimpressive way Griffin handled some questions would have been weeded out by conversations with more sophisticated colleagues. There is reason to hope. Griffin can perform creditably in one-on-one interviews. In one such encounter the interviewer, renowned for bullying interviewees, lost his professional demeanor when Griffin accused him and the rest of the media of betraying Britain.

Griffin has also shown intellectual leadership by introducing some needed ideological reforms — the main one being a clarification of the BNP’s constituency. Griffin maintains that the BNP represents indigenous ethnic Britons — the English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish. This improves on the vague conceptualization of the English and British as branches of the White race, by implication interchangeable with any other.

The new formulation is in line with what is known about history, culture and genetics and is supported by the best scholarship on ethnicity and nationalism such as Walker Connor’s Ethnonationalism. The Quest for Understanding (1994). An ethnic group is a cultural and genetic manifold with interests and solidarity dependent on both elements. Griffin’s reform makes good political sense because it positions the BNP as the flag-bearer of authentic British nationalism which a race-based policy cannot. We realize we are White, but for reasons of descent and history, we think of ourselves first and foremost as English, Welsh, Scots and Irish — then British; then perhaps as part of the Anglosphere including the pre-1965 U.S.A., Canada, and Australia; then Western European; then part of the European sub-continent. Thus Whiteness is the least compelling of ethnic identities, hardly something with which to attract mass support.

That is not to say that Polish immigration poses as much as a threat as Caribbean or Pakistani immigration of the same magnitude. Nevertheless large scale Polish or German or French or Italian colonization of Britain would reduce indigenous ethnic interests.

The prelude

The riot that took place at the gates of the BBC studios on the day Question Time was taped was a violent manifestation of the illiberal stance taken over preceding weeks by the Left and minority activists. One expects conflicts among tribes to be robust and often nasty. So it comes as no surprise that the Board of Deputies of British Jews has consistently advocated censoring the BNP, not only from this particular program but from the media in general. They see the fight against British ethnic nationalism as a priority on a par with defending their own nation state in the Middle East, and their opposition to restrictive immigration to Britain as compelling as keeping Israel for the Jews.

Jewish intolerance of English ethnic sentiment is understandable even if shortsighted. Neither is it difficult to comprehend their simultaneous protestations of liberal and democratic values once it is realized that all are means to the single end of ethnic welfare.

What is difficult to comprehend is how genuine leftists can juggle such inconsistent positions. Of course the left has its authoritarian wing as does the right. Stalinism is the mirror image of Nazism in its contempt for freedom of speech. But the influential type of leftism in Britain does not present itself as Stalinist but democratic.

Consider the quality newspaper The Guardian. This is a sophisticated cosmopolitan daily that is the most influential intellectual publication on the left in Britain. The paper editorialized against Nick Griffin appearing on Question Time. It rejects, when it is not ignoring, the BNP claim that there is an indigenous British people. It does not bother to discuss this issue despite it being critical for understanding the BNP’s position. The claim is indisputably true and well known in the academic literature on the subject of ethnicity and nationalism. (See for example the history of indigenous English nationhood by the late Adrian Hastings in The Construction of Nationhood: Ethnicity, religion and Nationalism [1997]).

The Guardian left accepts as allies individuals and groups that are obviously motivated by ethnic sentiment. The Guardian is not at all interested in distancing itself from those who criticize the BNP for nefarious reasons, such as contempt for indigenous Britons. They did not cast a critical eye on the Board of Deputies and examine its motives for seeking to keep Nick Griffin off television. One gains the impression that anyone who attacks the BNP is acceptable as an ally no matter the motive.

Thus we find Gary Younge, a Black columnist for The Guardian who opposed Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time. In doing so, he criticized those who attributed any cause of racial tension to minorities. The only cause of racism is racism itself, Younge asserted. In 2006 following the London transport bombings — by Muslims born and raised in Britain — Jack Straw urged Muslim women to cease wearing the naqab as a means of better integrating into British society. Younge thought this was “New Labour’s race-baiting rhetoric”. Racism, by which he means a strictly White malady, is produced by bad politics such as failing to service the White working class. Younge thinks that racism is not caused at all by minority behavior or numbers.

Thus the Guardian crowd not only overlooks minority chauvinist motives for hating British nationalism but tolerates vacuous analysis when it produces the desired result.

The British left is pathologically confused about ethnicity. Its adherents fail to admit that White peoples can have ethnic interests while implicitly sympathizing with minority and Third World ethnic and national sentiments and defending the perceived group interests of women and gays. In Britain the left equates Englishness and Whiteness, as does the neo-Nazi right. As if ethnicity is only a matter of race. The conflation serves the purpose of unleashing the powerful “racism” slur against all varieties of White ethnic affiliation — ethnic and national, affiliative and aggressive, moderate and extreme.

The left also confuses racial sentiment and authoritarianism, unleashing the “fascism” slur against all White ethnic loyalty. The representatives of a tradition that put class loyalty ahead of religion and nationality now look down snobbishly on those who have defected from a Labour Party that has abandoned its original White working class base.

The absolutism of the left’s anti-White nationalism needs explaining. The Guardian circle happily condemns in one breath the late Enoch Powell — in his time a professor of classics, cabinet minister, and conservative without fascist ties or sympathies — and declared neo-Nazis. This helps explain the campaign of violence conducted by the left against moderate and radical nationalists alike: The thugs are not trained to distinguish between them.

Of course the intellectual left does not condone violent attacks on the BNP. They just don’t take much notice. Meanwhile their concern for non-White victims of White racism rests on a hair trigger.

As a result of all this, British ethnic nationalists have nowhere to go except to parties such as the BNP because they are confronted with the choice of either surrendering what they see as vital interests or taking positions as intransigent towards the left and its ethnic allies as the left is towards them.

If the nice White consciousness types did create a more respectable middle-class party ,it would be called fascist and physically attacked for the reasons just described. To conduct public meetings and protect their officials they would need the protection of heavy-set men with short-cropped hair. Soon they would find that the bourgeoisie had deserted, leaving tough idealists willing to sacrifice all for their people. They would be pilloried, censored and mocked by the mainstream media. They would have created a duplicate BNP.

Let’s put these pieces together. By behaving with the selective intensity of an ethnically partisan movement, the left forces Anglo ethnic loyalists to either acquiesce or mirror this approach by adopting elements of fascism. Much the same observation was made by Kevin MacDonald in his book on anti-Semitism, Separation and its discontents: Toward an evolutionary theory of anti-Semitism. However, in that book the stimulus that produced the reaction of anti-Semitism was Jewish ethnic group strategies. What needs to be explained is why the modern left, ostensibly universalist and cosmopolitan, behaves like minority ethnic activists.

Leftist rejection of any expression of White ethnic solidarity is a puzzle because it is tribal in its intensity and inconsistency. This is not to be expected from minds imbued with universal and rational values. The intensity alone is unreasonable. Why should ethnocentrism expressed by Britons, and not that commonly expressed by minorities, produce absolute opposition? Why seek to punish mild White clannishness but not the far more intense clannishness shown by minorities? The Left has long been the most important source of criticism of Israel’s racial nationalism but why is it not also a critic of organized Jewry for its support of Israel? Indeed, why does it turn a blind eye to the ethnic loyalties of Jewish and other ethnic activists in its own ranks? And why the embrace of diversity, which has been shown to undermine many leftist values including equality, a sense of community, trust, high wages for labor, welfare, and democracy?

The aftermath

The most important aftershock of Griffin’s Question Time appearance was the exposure of the treason of Justice Minister Jack Straw. In the Question Time program, Straw was Griffin’s main antagonist apart from the moderator. Despite coming under some pressure during the program, Straw was generally allowed to appear respectable. In response to a questioner’s assertion that Straw’s own ruling party was responsible for the rise of the BNP because of its lax immigration policy, Straw claimed that he and his colleagues had taken strong measures to control run-away immigration:

I accept entirely people’s concerns about the pace of change and I’ve seen that in my own constituency. . . . What we have done sir . . . we have responded to the concerns very significantly for example by tightening border controls, introducing the kind of checks on people going out as well as people coming in . . . What we’ve also done is to introduce the Australian points system for work visas. (Question Time on, Part 5 of 7)

Within a day Straw’s claims about his government’s immigration policy were shown to be a lie. Andrew Neather, a former Labour Party adviser, revealed that the surge in immigration beginning in 2000 was not happenchance as widely thought, but in fact the objective of a plan by Straw and then Prime Minister Tony Blair. The goal was to swamp Britain with Third World immigrants as a means of demoralizing opposition to multiculturalism. They intended to “rub the Right’s noses in diversity” and make Britain’s demographic transformation irreversible.

As Melanie Phillips observed, the BBC failed to even report Neather’s bombshell:

“Yet last Friday Neather revealed that the demographic composition of this country had been deliberately altered by the government in a deliberate deception of the British electorate who had voted it into power and whose cultural identity was now being deliberately and covertly destroyed. And yet everyone is either too indifferent or too intimidated to talk about this. Truly, this country is in a lethal trance.

Nevertheless, it’s not lethal enough to drive Phillips (who is Jewish) to support the BNP, despite their newfound pro-Israel rhetoric.

The public response to Neather’s revelation was overwhelmingly negative, as revealed by the hundreds of comments posted on newspaper discussion forums. As one correspondent stated with typical British succinctness: “Straw and Blair are traitors to Britain and should be treated as such.” And another: “Every member of the Labour Party involved in this act of treason should be put on trial for treason and all the immigrants that have been allowed into the country should be told that they will be deported.”

Yet Jack Straw, with the able assistance of the BBC, played the noble moralist on Question Time, despite long ago having declared war on the British people. Perhaps his hostility was aided by identification with immigrants rather than ethnic Britons: “I come from immigrant stock . . . I’m third generation Jewish émigrés on my mother’s side. . . . We don’t want to pull up the draw bridge” (Question Time on, Part 5 of 7).

Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time was valuable for showing just how desperate Britain’s situation is. This is a struggle of national life and death with powerful forces arrayed against us. For all their faults the BNP are the friends of the British peoples; they stand for national freedom and dignity and continuity. We should base our political choices on such fundamental issues: Better to have leaders who identify with and care about us than those who are indifferent or actually hate us.

The BNP are of great value because they give political expression to healthy ethnic sentiments increasingly evident in the British scene. Because they are the major force on our side, they are indispensible. While they continue to represent the interests of ethnic Britons, Nick Griffin and the other BNP leaders should be treated as heroes, warts and all.

Charles Dodgson (email him) is the pen name of an English social analyst.