I’d been wondering whether to say anything about this, but on balance I think there are a couple of points worth drawing out.
As some of my Twitter Fellows* have been remarking, it’s all too easy to be seduced into thinking that, just because all the opinions you might happen to see might happen to co-incide with yours (and why not, since that’s probably why you follow each other in the first place), that must reflect the broader view. As it is, there also appears to be plenty of evidence, via online comment channels, that quite a number of people either agreed with Griffin’s views anyway, or disagreed with them but felt he was not given a fair ride.
It’s also interesting that someone, somewhere, sees a villain in every single player in this little drama. Here are some of the criticisms I’ve seen so far:
- the BBC should not have given the BNP such a publicity platform in the first place;
- Dimbleby should have been more even-handed and protected Griffin from some of the gang-ups (and not weighed in with a couple of deft jabs of his own, to boot…);
- Jack Straw’s got no business cricitising anyone else’s immigration policy, because Labour have made such a hash of their own one;
- The rest of the panel (with the possible exception of Bonnie Greer) are hypocrites for papering over their own differences to gang up on Griffin;
- The audience were un-representatively hostile (which is either their fault, or the BBC’s, or both…);
- The protesters outside were interfering with free speech, or Griffin’s opportunity to be held accountable, or both…
- … and so on.
If I have a criticism of the BBC it is that, having decided to go ahead with the programme, they then did as shameless a job of padding and puffing it as any X-Factor final. Driving back from the airport last night, every news bulletin trailed the broadcast, and such a slab of “The World Tonight” was dedicated to it that, by the time it actually aired I felt that I’d heard most of the material already.
I suspect the bottom line is this: I have yet to see anything, anywhere, from anyone to say that the programme changed their mind with respect to Mr Griffin’s views – either in one direction or the other. Even in our televisually-mediated society, then, you can put a racist, revisionist bigot on air for an hour and still not convince his sympathisers that he’s beyond the pale.
On that basis, it has to go down as a failure.
*Fellow (n): someone who is either a ‘follower’ or ‘followee’ of yours on Twitter… (if someone else hasn’t already coined it, you saw it here first, folks ;^)