Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Forget the BNP, Miliband's the Story

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Forget the BNP, Miliband's the Story

Article excerpt


THERE is a widely-held maxim in our profession that all publicity is good publicity. But after Thursday night's Question Time on the BBC, I wonder if Nick Griffin would necessarily agree.

In the run-up to the programme, there were widespread fears that the British National Party leader's appearance would somehow give the far-right group the mainstream political respectability it craves.

Critics of the BBC's decision to allow him to appear cited the upsurge in support for Jean-Marie Le Pen's neo-fascist National Front party in France in 1984, following a high-profile television performance.

But in the event, those who were worried on this score need not have feared. Far from giving his party added credibility, Mr Griffin's appearance on the programme merely confirmed that neither he nor his party are serious political players.

If Mr Griffin was the political genius his admirers believe him to be, then maybe they would have had a point.

But Mr Griffin is no Jean-Marie Le Pen, still less an Enoch Powell, and my impression from watching the show was to wonder why anyone would want to vote for this clown.

Grinning your way through a YouTube video about MPs' expenses as Prime Minister Gordon Brown did earlier this year is one thing.

Grinning your way through a question about whether or not you denied the Holocaust is quite another. For my part, I cannot disagree with Justice Secretary Jack Straw's verdict, that far from providing the BNP with a platform for a political "breakthrough" the whole episode has been a catastrophe for the party.

Meanwhile, back in the real world of politics... strange things seem to be stirring in the Labour undergrowth.

Last night saw the return to the region of the one-time Hartlepool MP Peter Mandelson to deliver the annual South Shields Lecture in the constituency of Foreign Secretary and potential Labour leadership contender David Miliband. …

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