I read in yesterday's Sunday Times that the BBC is considering inviting the BNP leader Nick Griffin to appear on Question Time later this year. The BBC have come to the decision that the BNP deserve a platform based on the level of electoral support they have received at national level in recent months.
Not surprisingly this has caused outrage amongst many politicians, but I think it's a perfect opportunity for the BNP's policies to be scrutinised and put under the microscope. Hopefully people will see that their policies are completely inadequate to deal with the big political issues facing the country.
I fully understand why the BBC are considering having the BNP on Question Time. Whether we like it or not, the BNP now have 2 democratically elected MEPs and in recent years have picked up a number of council seats. It's important that politicians and the public directly address the reasons as to why some people are turning to this extremist party. I think one way of doing this is by directly questioning and challenging the views and beliefs held by the party.
What I'd ideally like to see is other politicians and members of the audience avoiding the usual debates on immigration, but instead asking the BNP what exactly their policies and views are on the economy, dealing with the recession, public sector investment, the NHS, education, crime, social mobility. All the types of issues that directly affect the lives of people on a daily basis.
I would hope that when people can see that they do not have any sensible or realistic policies to address such issues it will be clear that they are not a serious political party that people can vote for and expect to bring about any positive change.
The Tories and the Lib Dems seem to be agreeing with me, as they are prepared to share a platform with the BNP, arguing that their policies need to be addressed. Labour are still considering its position.
The critics of this move will argue that by allowing the BNP onto Question Time we are somehow legitimising them and making them appear respectable. The Sunday Times quoted the Labour chairman of the all-party group on anti-semitism, John Mann as saying:
'It's absurd to give the BNP any space. This is how Hitler came to power and these people have the same objectives..'
The UK may be a lot of things, but it's certainly not similar to the situation that Germany was in during the early 1930s when Hitler came to power.
I do understand such views but this is part of the democratic process. Nobody said that democracy was perfect it isn't, but we should have confidence in this process. Confidence that it will allow people to see what the BNP is really all about, and that in reality they have nothing to offer the electorate in this country.