Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
24 October 2009

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

The BNP's BBC boost

By Mehdi Hasan

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.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

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

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them

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.