Sunday, 25 October 2009


I didn't see Question Time; any knowledge I have of the programme is based solely on news reports and what other bloggers have to say on the matter.

It was always going to be a bit of a 'no win' situation for the Beeb. They have been criticised for including Griffin; but they could equally have been open to criticism if they chose to ignore the fact that the BNP did actually win two seats in the European elections. And they've been criticised for the format - but I suspect that they would also have been criticised had they not adopted the approach which they chose.

Blaming the broadcasters is something of an easy way out, it seems to me, and I think that Hain in particular has been very unfair in his criticism. The BBC weren't to blame for the fact that sufficient numbers of people voted for the BNP to gain them two MEPs. The BBC have to operate within a legal framework laid down for them - by politicians - and expecting them to decide which political parties are allowed a platform and which are not is giving them a degree of power which does not belong to broadcasters.

Political parties have to operate within a legal framework as well - and that framework is also decided by the politicians. So, when a political party which is legal and registered under the law wins seats in a democratic election, I can't see how a broadcaster which is bound by statute to political impartiality was left with a lot of choice.

Politicians such as Hain may find the BBC an easy target - but they as a government have laid down the framework within which both parties and broadcasters operate. If the lawmakers consider that the law cannot be used to prevent an organisation like the BNP from operating, on what basis do they expect the BBC to do the job for them? Blaming someone else is just dishonesty.


Pelagius said...

It may be worse than you think. Before the programme was made, the BBC maintained that, if these British racists were to be banned, the UK government had the legal power to do it. So, it's Labour's fault.

Not surprisingly, we had a mirror-image of this UK canard on BBC Wales. They broadcast the views of Rhiannon Passmore as a "former member of BBC Wales broadcasting council". She repeatedly slammed the BBC and let Labour off the hook. When I checked her real identity on-line, it turns out (a) she's a Labour councillor in Caerffili, (b) was a Labour Assembly candidate in Ceredigion and the south east region and (c) a member of Labour's UK policy forum under Blair. No bias there, then.

Shame on BBC Wales for misleading listeners. At least your blog gets the point.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you for much of this John but had you seen the content I am sure you would have agreed that the BBC did not handle the situation correctly. There was little consistency between their claims for inviting Griffin on as a legitimate party with MEPs and a BNP special show. The thing was a farce and made the BNPs day.
Why the BNP have had electoral success is something people like Hain need to face up to but that still doesn't excuse the BNPs handling and the legitimate attacks they have come under

Unknown said...

I wouldn't like to buy a used car from this man...himself an immigrant I believe.

John Dixon said...


You may be right about the BBC mishandling the format; that seems to be a fairly common opinion. But I suspect that, had they just stuck to the normal format, they would probably have been criticised for that as well - maybe even by some of the same people. I'm prepared to accept the judgement of those who did see it; but I don't think that the BBC could have pleased everyone whatever they did.


"himself an immigrant I believe"

So what? I don't see why that has any relevance in this context.