Griffin lashes out after devastating Question Time
By Ian Dunt
BNP leader Nick Griffin has lashed out at the BBC after his appearance on last night’s Question Time was widely panned.
Mr Griffin’s performance, in which he repeatedly contradicted himself and appeared nervous and unsure of his arguments, was relentlessly criticised in the press this morning.
At a news conference today Mr Griffin tried to fight back against that impression by saying the BBC displayed “bias” against him, and said he would be making a formal complaint over the issue.
“The British public are aghast at the display of bias from the BBC, the venom from the political class, and the sheer unfairness,” he said.
“That was not a genuine Question Time, that was a lynch mob.
“People wanted to see me and hear me talking about things such as the postal strike.
“One or two questions about what a wicked man I am, fair enough, but the whole programme – it was absurd. Let’s do it again but do it properly this time.”
Mr Griffin demanded Jack Straw, who appeared yesterday, go head-to-head against him on a set of five political issues, and that David Cameron explain his connection to the protests outside, which were primarily organised by Unite Against Fascism.
The anti-fascist protestors, who at one point gathered in their thousands, managed to break through the front gate of the BBC headquarters yesterday afternoon in an attempt to stop the programme going ahead.
By the end of the day, six protestors had been arrested, and three police officers injured, but filming went ahead – albeit a little earlier than usual.
Once inside, Mr Griffin was treated to an overwhelmingly hostile audience, who shouted “disgrace” and “rubbish” throughout most of his comments.
Host David Dimbleby and other mainstream political guests came armed with previous quotes of Mr Griffin, including references to Holocaust denial and Islam. At several points in the evening he appeared to contradict previous statements.
Mr Griffin failed to deny he did not believe in the Holocaust, although claims that European law prevented him from voicing his views were quickly rebuffed by justice secretary Jack Straw, who also sat on the panel.
Mr Griffin’s description of immigration to Britain being a ‘genocide’ earned a principled response from Baroness Warsi, who runs the Tories’ community cohesion agenda.
“How appalling that you used that word in that way,” she told him.
The day was defined by argument and counter-argument concerning Mr Griffin’s appearance on the show.
BBC boss Mark Thompson spoke out against condemnation of the programme.
Describing the arguments as a case for censorship, Mr Thompson wrote in the Guardian: “Question Time is an opportunity for the British public to put questions to politicians of every ideological hue.
“Politicians from the UK’s biggest parties appear most frequently, but from time to time representatives of parties with many fewer supporters… also take their seats on the stage,” he continued.
“It is for that reason – not for some misguided desire to be controversial, but for that reason alone – that the invitation has been extended.”
Meanwhile, Mr Griffin was mocking the BBC in an interview with the Times in which he said the media coverage of his appearance had given the party great publicity and seen donations roll in.
“I thank the political class and their allies for being so stupid,” he said.
“The huge furore that the political class has created around it clearly gives us a whole new level of public recognition.”
The Welsh secretary previously argued its ‘whites-only’ membership policy was currently being changed following an aborted court case against it by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (ECHR), but that while it was not reformed, it remained an illegal group.
The Trust, which rarely intervenes before a programme has screened, decided against taking any action.
The BNP has had a busy week, with army chiefs making an unprecedented attack on the party for using military imagery to sell its political message.