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Protests at the BBC: No to the far-right, racist BNP
As the Socialist goes to press, Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right racist British National party (BNP) is due to appear on Question Time on Thursday 22 October.
If his appearance goes ahead, as the BBC are insisting it will, it will be met with demonstrations of trade unionists and young people, both outside the White City BBC studios where Question Time is filmed, and outside regional TV studios around Britain. Bectu, the broadcasting trade union, has promised to support any Bectu members who refuse to work on this issue of Question Time.
The anger felt by many trade unionists about Nick Griffin's appearance reflects their understanding that, wherever the BNP gains a hearing, it gives racists more confidence and inevitably leads to an increase in racist attacks and harassment.
Some of those opposed to the BNP may believe that an appearance on Question Time will act to expose the vile racism of the BNP. In fact the BBC has a poor record in challenging the BNP's ideas.
For example, Radio 1 recently did an interview with what were described as "two young guys who are members of the BNP". The "young guys" were actually leaders of the BNP and were allowed to spout foul racism completely unchallenged.
In reality, if Griffin is skilful on Question Time he may be able to claim to represent the only party that stands against cuts and in defence of public services. This would be a blatant lie - at local council level the BNP has supported axing public spending - but on the Question Time panel neither Jack Straw, or the Tories or Liberal Democrats, will be able to expose the BNP - given that they are all competing for who can cut and privatise the most.
We need to make sure that the demonstrations outside the BBC offices are as big as possible. It is correct to argue against the BNP being given a platform. Nick Griffin has a long history of support for neo-fascist ideas, and the core of the BNP undoubtedly still holds these views. If they were able to implement a neo-fascist agenda it would mean a destruction of all democratic rights - including the right to vote, to join a trade union and to demonstrate.
However, where the BNP has already managed to establish a platform, which we are campaigning to prevent on Question Time, it is vital that socialists and the trade union movement both mobilise against them and are prepared to take them on directly in political debate. Only a party that genuinely stands in the interests of working class people will be able to successfully expose and undermine the BNP.
In The Socialist 20 October 2009:
War and occupation
International socialist news and analysis
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Marxist analysis: history