BBC ‘not honest’ about Griffin invite

10:58 am - September 10th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    

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In an article for this week’s New Statesman magazine, political correspondent James Macintyre reveals that the BBC is not being entirely honest about inviting Nick Griffin on to Question Time.

Macintyre used to work on QT earlier while at the BBC, and says the idea was doing the rounds two years earlier when Nick Griffin had not even been elected as an MEP. The European elections had little to do with their hand-wringing.

He argues:

My objection is that Question Time – unlike Newsnight or Today, where presenters could give Griffin a grilling on immigration – would provide a soft format for him to pontificate on a variety of issues of the day. It is hard not to have a “good” Question Time. Symbolically, Griffin’s appearance (presumably in front of a crowd – in part, at least – infiltrated by cheering BNP members) will mark the arrival of the party into the media mainstream. Question Time is Britain’s most successful current affairs programme.

Its presenter, David Dimbleby, is the best in the business and its production team has sustained the show’s “magic formula”, attracting millions of viewers each week.

He says the Labour party was “pathetically wrong” to consider reversing its “no platform” policy and the Tories and Libdems wrong to play along.

He adds:

Oh, and to those who ask, “Don’t you believe in free speech?” I say of course, but not in engineering an opportunity to incite racial and religious hatred in front of millions of viewers.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments

Sunny H. probably thinks that the ideal person to appear on QT would be a Trotskyite black lesbian in a wheelchair who would demand the mass immigration of black lesbians in wheelchairs.

thanks for that very insightful comment Gerry

actually Gerry, it would be a Trotskyite Muslim black lesbian in a wheelchair. Anything less would of course be imperialist, comrade

4. Abdul Abulbul Emir


As long as it not publicity seeking persons like J Luvvie Mr Nab and good Sunny himself who are seeking to immigrate I’m thinking.

The quota is full for this people.

Peace be upon me.

He so did not say that, as the kids would say. That has ruined talking properly about the issue at hand for at least 50 comments on the thread.

…and besides, the Trotskyite Muslim black lesbian in a wheelchair cannot make QT on the suggested date, she’s attending a conference on how best to omit learning about WWII from the national curriculum!

And why Enoch Powell should be banned! From everywhere!

The piece makes a fair point, hinted at in another piece here about how people clap owt on QT and Griffin trots out the kind of nonsense that picks up cheap claps, like Peter Hitchens whenever he is on and he just keeps going until people clap…

The big twat.

“It is hard not to have a “good” Question Time.”

really? I mean, really? I know the guy was a producer, but I’ve seen plenty of occasions where people seriously fell on their backsides, either through audience questioning or one of the other panellists pulling their arguments to bits.

I obviously can’t have been watching the right “Question Time”…?

Of course, it all depends on who’s on with the odious bigot – you haven’t had a call yet, have you Mr. H?

See – someone’s trying to drag this back on-topic… 🙂

Question for the audience – who would make your fantasy “anti-Griffin” QT panel?

Ian Hislop, Shami Chakrabati, Ken Clarke MP (yeah, seriously), and Jean Eaglesham (of the FT) might make for an interesting evening’s viewing…feel free to disagree 🙂

I say Jon Cruddas and John Denham. Both solid on the issue.

@Andy Gilmor Ian Hislop is always good value on Question Time, so’s Shami. I don’t think Clarke would be the best Tory to choose, he’s seen as too wet. Get someone like Hague from the less moderate end of the Tory party to pull Griffin apart. Chris Huhne was strong the last time I saw him on QT.


I considered Hague, but then went back and trawled through his record of sayings on immigration, etc. Hmmm. Might be some ammunition for Griffin in there. So…

Decided on Clarke because there’s no Labour or LibDem mp’s (minimising Griffin’s chances of launching an attack on expense claimants), so a “one nation”-ish Tory would be a pretty good compromise.

Hislop is a self-declared small “c” conservative, with some Lib Dem leanings, and could tear Griffin to bits on the whole “Britishness”, “Englishness” issue, Clarke’s been there, seen it, done it, and isn’t Eurosceptic. Ms. Eaglesham’s smart, hot on gay rights & current affairs, etc, (and not an obvious “lefty”), and Shami Chakrabati’s, well…Shami Chakrabati (generally fantastic)! 🙂

Was trying to think of a panel who would be able to rip apart the entire BNP platform, while not offering any easy cheap shot soundbites for Griffin and however many fans the BNP can get into the audience.

Plus it would be just the sort of “diverse” panel that’d get up Griffin’s nose before the show even started 🙂

What about Mark Steel? Hislop etc… is all very well – but if you don’t have a working class decent person on, ripping the neo nazi millionaire to shreds, it will be easier for Griffin to claim to be the voice of the working class (white, christian, employed, and heterosexual working class of course!)

Thoughts on that then please

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