The following is an article I have written for the next edition of the CPF E-Zine, IMPACT:
Having an individual like Nick Griffin on BBC Question Time was always going to be a controversial move, not only because of who the man is and what he represents, but also because there is still a dispute about how to handle the BNP. Do we give them a platform with the idea being that if you question them rigorously whilst giving them enough rope they will hang themselves, or do we starve them of any publicity, thus refusing to give them any quarter and not allowing ignorant and naïve minds to be polluted?
I for one happen to go for the former view. To do the latter I think would be counter-productive and would give the BNP martyr status that they nowhere near deserve. The actions of anti-fascist groups outside the BBC that fateful Thursday, whilst well meaning, played right into the BNP's hands and if you doubt me, ask yourself if the BNP would have preferred Nick Griffin to make a quiet entrance? Many people who saw Nick Griffin on Question Time would have seen a man who was given the opportunity to clarify some of the BNP's more controversial allegations against them; Holocaust denial, friendship with the Ku Klux Klan, racism, what is an indigenous British person? Time and again, Griffin fumbled his answers and gave half baked ones which did no one justice and his declaration of supporting a “Christian” nation, whilst unsurprising, is one that not only offends many Christians, it shows that Griffin has not been reading the Bible properly and, at worst, has been deliberately selective which does not do wonders for his soul. It wouldn't take many to quickly find the parable of the Good Samaritan and see that if Jesus came to Earth today, instead of 2,000 years ago, and settled in the UK and voted, he certainly would not vote BNP.
But there is more to Christianity in politics than being anti-BNP, it is also a faith which links to the foundations of what makes good Democracy. Christ tells us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. President Kennedy (a Roman Catholic), stated in his inaugural address in 1961 “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!” We are all human and we live in a hard and uncertain world. This means that we must not only be unwavering and compromising in our beliefs, we must also (no matter how distasteful) show regard for others whose politics we detest, but with a hard, open, and uncompromising disagreement with those views and being prepared to use the weight of the law where needed, if those views directly attack the fabric of our society.
Battling the BNP involves a war over hearts, minds, and souls. The battle is becoming more open and those of us who stand for decency and democracy must up our game, but likewise we must not betray our values and likewise we must learn the balance between offering free speech and penalising those who refuse to offer that free speech to others.