Well I've just finished watching tonight's much anticipated edition of Question Time with the BNP's leader Nick Griffin. My first thoughts. Overall I'm glad that the show went ahead with Griffin on it. I was all in favour of his appearance to begin with, and after watching tonight's show I'm even more convinced that the BBC made the right decision despite the protests and criticisms that have been raised.
People argue about the publicity that the BNP have gained from tonight's show. That this publicity will only help to strengthen their support throughout the country. I find this argument annoying and to a certain extent patronising towards the public.
It's almost like people are scared to have the BNP's views aired in the open. For me that's where they need to be. I thought it was great to bring the BNP into the spotlight and let people question Griffin directly about his views and his party's policies.
Lets have a proper debate about these things. I don't understand this view that says that if we ignore the BNP and don't give them a platform that somehow they will just disappear, they wont!
If after tonight's show more people started to support the BNP, then that's something I'm prepared to deal with. If I blame anyone for this then I blame the mainstream political parties in this country, particularly the Labour government who have been in power for the last 12 years.
If the BNP are attracting more voters it's directly linked to the fact that Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems are not tackling or addressing and in some cases ignoring many issues that are affecting certain sections of society.
In tonight's show, someone in the audience asked Jack Straw whether Labour's immigration policy had contributed to the rise in support of the BNP. It was questions like this that I felt made the programme worthwhile.
There are major issues regarding immigration in this country which need to be addressed and spoken about, and tonight's show tried to do that. We need to have a lot more debates like this. To not do so allows the BNP to spread more inaccurate information.
What I find personally worrying is not only this reluctance and failure by our mainstream politicians to adequately tackle the issues that result in people voting BNP in the first place.
There is also the fact that Griffin presents this veneer of respectability, some of the comments he made tonight about immigration and Islam are views which are held by a lot more people in this country then many of us would like to admit.
You only have to look at the front pages of newspapers like the Express and the Daily Mail on a weekly basis. They constantly have headlines about the threat of immigration or Islam in this country.
As far as I can see many of their headlines and reports actually help to fuel the type of prejudice and discontent, which logically leads some people to vote BNP.
I think the point I'm trying to get at is that politicians, the press, sections of the media, and the public need to be more open and honest about their own failures, their own lack of debate, and actions in creating a climate where the views of the BNPs are allowed to grow. Tonight's show was a good way of addressing some of these problems.
If I could have changed one thing about tonight, I would have liked to have seen a more 'normal' show, in terms of having the usual range of topics and issues to discuss.
At times there was too much focus on Griffin and I would have liked to have heard his views on other subjects like MP Expenses or Afghanistan.
I thought I'd only write a quick post tonight, but It looks like I had far more to say on the matter. I'll probably return back to this subject in the next couple of days when I've read more reaction and opinion on tonight's show.