I hate to say we told you so but . . . we told you so!

The BNP's BBC boost

I wish I'd been proved wrong. I wish James's fears had been exaggerated. He and I warned in print, online and on air that the BBC's decision to host Nick Griffin on Question Time last week would help remove the taboo surrounding the far-right, Islam-hating, Holocaust-denying party, make the BNP look mainstream, normal and even respectable, fail to "expose" Nick Griffin as a nutter, criminal or fascist, and thereby boost the BNP's poll ratings.

Imagine my despair and depression to be vindicated today by an opinion poll which suggests that 22 per cent of people questioned would "seriously consider" voting BNP. That's one in five of the population! Via the BBC:

The opinion poll carried out after Mr Griffin's appearance found 22% of voters would consider voting BNP in a future local, general or European election.

Two-thirds of the 1,314 people polled by YouGov for the Daily Telegraph dismissed voting for the party under any circumstances, with the rest unsure.

When asked how they would vote in an election tomorrow, the proportion supporting the BNP stood at 3%, up from 2% a month ago.

However, more than half of those polled said they agreed or thought the party had a point in speaking up for the interests of indigenous, white British people.

BBC bosses, especially Mark Thomspon, Mark Byford and Ric Bailey, should hang their heads in shame. For one brief but important night, they became facilitators for the far right and its pernicious propaganda. The BNP is claiming that about 3,000 people registered to join the party during and after the broadcast.

On a side note, check out the column in the Mail on Sunday tomorrow by James Macintyre, former Question Time producer, in which he reveals how the BBC reached this ignominious decision.

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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