British National Party, BNP, leader Nick Griffin speaks in
front of a BNP banner in Manchester, England. (AP
Photo/Dave Thompson/PA Wire, File)
To the outrage of many Britons, a white-supremacist
fringe party riding a wave of electoral success has been
invited to participate in a BBC prime-time TV show on politics.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party government says it
is appalled that the far right British National Party will
get such high-profile exposure to millions of viewers. The
BBC, however, says as a publicly funded broadcaster it must
cover all political parties that have a national presence.
"It's not for the BBC to make decisions about what parties it
does and doesn't like," a BBC spokesman said Tuesday on
condition of anonymity in line with company policy. "That,
quite rightly, is a decision for the electorate."
The BNP, which opposes immigration and says it fights for
"indigenous" Britons, wants to become a force in British
Although it isn't likely to gain a seat in the national
Parliament because of Britain's first-past-the-post electoral
system, the BNP serves on several city councils and made an
electoral breakthrough in June, when it took about 6 percent
of the British vote in European elections, winning two EU
On Thursday, BNP leader Nick Griffin is scheduled to appear
on the BBC's flagship political debate show "Question Time" -
a highly valued imprimatur of political respectability.
A senior Cabinet minister, Justice Secretary Jack Straw, is
supposed to be on the same programme, where panelists are
questioned on current affairs by a studio audience.
The far right party is so pleased with the invite that it is
counting down the seconds until the broadcast on its website.
The government and anti-racist groups say the invitation to
Griffin legitimises fascist views, and protesters have vowed
to picket Thursday's taping at the BBC's West London studios.
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain - a former anti-apartheid activist
- has called on the BBC to drop Griffin from the programme,
saying the party is "an unlawful body" because historically
it has not allowed nonwhite people to be members.
Last week the BNP agreed to change its constitution to accept
nonwhite members after it was taken to court by the Equality
and Human Rights Commission.