Last week’s Question Time was probably the most controversial edition of the programme ever, and yet it seemed to be more controversial for how the BBC actually ran the programme, than the principal of the BNP participating.
I understand the arguments again extremist groups being allowed to express their fundamental views in public places, but I think it is important they were allowed to for two reasons: it highlights the trust we have in voters – it is their decision to decide if a political party has too extreme a policy book to be elected, not the BBC; secondly, they have already got a number of democratically elected representatives and therefore need to be taken seriously.
The programme was not a normal Question Time because instead of dealing with the week’s political issues such as the postal strike, it spent well over the first half just on the BNP policies. More recently the programme seems to have been more single issue based, for example recently a programme I saw had an audience of young people and focussed on university education, NEETs and job prospects.
What frustrated me was that this wasn’t just trying to deal with the issues of race and immigration, it came across as trying to deal with the issue of the legitimacy of freedom of speech, and how that is worked out in extreme political parties. I don’t agree with Nick Griffin, but it is never good politics when we just line up a bunch of other people to slag 1 person off.
I hope that in future the editors of Question Time are more imaginative with how they deal with controversial topics like this one.