For the past few weeks the British media and public have hotly been debating the rights and wrongs of allowing the controversial British National Party [BNP] leader to appear on the BBC’s ‘flagship’ politics programme Question Time. Despite attempts to halt Nick Griffin’s appearance, the programme finally aired on Thursday 22 October 2009, with record viewing figures of 8 million.
Since the broadcast, media analysis has been at fever pitch in an attempt to make sense of the reality. Against the backdrop of debates over freedom of speech and right wing rhetoric, as well as accusations of Holocaust denial and racism, Griffin has announced he will be making a complaint over his treatment by the programme.
In essence, Griffin insists that the format of the programme was changed in order to focus purely on his party’s policies on immigration and race, leaving him facing little more than a ‘lynch mob.’ Although, many commentators have suggested that his appearance has irrevocably tarnished the limited credibility of the BNP, others have argued that he should never have been allowed to appear in the first place. Interestingly, the BNP insist that their membership has increased since Griffin’s appearance. Needless to say the debate will run for some considerable time, dragging the issue of freedom of speech once more into the spotlight.