By Scott Norton
Widespread debate has begun over The BNP’s inclusion in Thursday night’s question Time. Nick Griffin has been given the opportunity to air his views live on national television and will face off against Jack Straw as well as other panelists including Baroness Warsi, the shadow communities minister, and the black playwright Bonnie Greer. Home Secretary Alan Johnston pulled out of Thursday night’s show and has recently defended his decision not to debate with the BNP leader stating that ” they should be confronted but their inclusion on Question Time gives them a legitimacy they do not deserve.”
Channel 4’s news anchor Jon Snow has openly criticised politicians, Alan Johnston in particular, believing it be ‘genuine cowardice’ that has led to his decision not to debate. Many agree with Snow’s sentiments and many believe that it is tricky question on immigration that have scared Johnston from the debate.
The BBC’s Director General, Mark Thompson, has stood by his decision to include the party regardless of the current investigation into the BNP’s illegal membership conditions. Many believe that their inclusion in the show should be put on hold at least until the court proceedings are finalised but Thompson believes that it is the BBC’s responsibility to hold all elected members of parliament to account. Downing Street today said that it was the BBC’s decision to make and that the appearance of Jack Straw on the show was “not a problem”.
The inclusion of BNP chairman Nick Griffin in Thursday night’s Question Time could damage the UK’s reputation as a tolerant multi-cultural society. Giving Griffin the opportunity to air his views live on national television may be viewed by many as an endorsement of fascism and could incite violence and divide communities. It may also damage relations with other countries and make us a fair target for extremists.