Hundreds of anti-racist campaigners demonstrated outside the British Broadcasting Corporation's west London Television Centre to protest at the appearance of the leader of a fascist political party on the mass audience Question Time discussion programme on Thursday. MPs, trade unionists - including members of the BBC branch of Bectu - political activists, students and members of the public were among the noisy throng which was heavily policed by more than 300 officers, some of whom were in riot gear.
Asad Rehman, a senior spokesman for the environmental group Friends of the Earth who has a long history of campaigning against racism, said: "The problem with Nick Griffin (the British National Party leader) being given this platform by the BBC is that, even though he's an avowed racist, some of his arguments will have more of a resonance with alienated white working class voters than those of the mainstream parties represented on the show."
He added: "For instance, while the Labour Party, Lib-Dems and Conservatives will either support the privatisation of the Post Office or oppose it but condemn strike action, Griffin will be populist and support the postal workers and their industrial action based on his policy of 'British workers for British jobs'. The BBC should have put a white working class person on the programme to oppose Griffin not discredited politicians."
Among the MPs who attended the demonstration were veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn, Andy Slaughter, whose constituency includes BBC television centre, and Virendra Sharma, who spoke of his Southall community fighting off the fascist National Front party when its racist thugs marched through the area with a large Asian community in the 1970s.
Rahul Patel, one of the leaders of Unite Against Fascism which is a front organisation for the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party, told The-Latest that his group had won the argument that Griffin should not be allowed on Question Time despite the "venom" of the British press (here's what The Sun says. It is the most popular paper with white working class Britons).
Patel speculated that the reasons why the BBC ploughed ahead with the Griffin invite, despite massive public opposition including from two Cabinet ministers, was because of its desperate desire for "TV ratings". And because, claimed Bennett bizarrely, senior BBC executives, previously employed by Channel Four, were ex-members of the "state-infiltrated Revolutionary Communist Party". Now there's a conspiracy theory to conjure with.
Meanwhile, BBC director general Mark Thompson justified inviting Griffin onto Question Time by saying the corporation had a duty to give appropriate representation to minority parties.
He added: "The underlying level of support for the BNP is around two to three per cent. In the European election, they achieved about six per cent. In the case of a party that continued to receive that level of support, appearances would probably be no more than one a year."
John Tyndall (former BNP leader): "While this part of Britain was the industrial centre of the world, what was happening in Africa and Asia? The people there were squatting for century upon century upon century on the ground of Africa and what did they produce apart from black magic, witchcraft, voodoo, cannibalism and AIDS?"
Richard Edmonds (ex-BNP deputy leader) When asked by the Editor of The-Latest if the BNP was racist said: "We are 100 per cent, yes"
Nick Griffin on the Soho pub bombings: "The TV footage of dozens of 'gay' demonstrators flaunting their perversions in front of the world's journalists showed just why so many ordinary people find these creatures so repulsive"
Mark Collett (BNP member) on Prince of Wales: "He's a fucking traitor. Did you hear him say we needed more mosques in this country? All Muslims are anti-British terrorists"
Nick Griffin in a speech secretly recorded by an undercover reporter calls Islam a "wicked, vicious faith".
Nick Eriksen (ex-candidate): "I've never understood why so many men have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the feminazi myth machine into believing that rape is such a serious crime.. Rape is simply sex. Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal. To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting force feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence" Mr Eriksen was subsequently dismissed from the British National Party after a blog post including the above passage went public
Nick Griffin on race: "Without the White race nothing matters [other right-wing parties] believe that the answer to the race question is integration and a futile attempt to create "Black Britons", while we affirm that non-Whites have no place here at all and will not rest until every last one has left our land"