Thursday, 22 October 2009

Getting Attention

A great deal of controversy surrounded the televising of the BBC’s ‘Question Time’ political show because it included Nick Griffin, the head of the British National Party (BNP) renowned for its extreme right wing, racist, homophobic and anti Semitic views. The BBC defended their position stating that the BNP got two MPs into the European Parliament and therefore had the democratic right to be represented on the panel. I believe that the BBC was correct in doing this. Despite an anti BNP protest outside the building trying to disrupt the program I am glad to say that it went ahead. This by far is a victory for democracy.

So instead of getting all worked up about some abhorrent and odious character having the right to be given air time, would it not be more productive in trying to understand how it is that the British public felt so disgruntled with our current representatives that they should resort to voting for the BNP at all?

I was rather disappointed with the show, mainly because it simply gave all the other, shall I say advisedly, legitimate politicians an opportunity to grandstand their repulsion of the BNP and attempt to score as many ‘buddy’ points with the electorate as possible. There was very little debate until the question that most likely got people voting for the BNP in the first place was raised.

In short, the questioner wanted to know if the success of the BNP was down to the current Governments failure to get to grips with immigration into the country. The representative for the Government, Jack Straw, naturally denied it. The other politicians were duty bound to say that it was a Government failing. All this was pretty standard and quite frankly could have been written without any politician being there at all, which is generally what bores many people away from politics.

But then Jack Straw said something quite extraordinary. He suggested that what the Government had to do was to listen to the electorate. So does this mean that the Government has not listened to the electorate so far? Does it take the voting in of an extreme party to make the incumbent ruling party do something it was responsible for doing in the first place?

As it goes the answer is most likely ‘no’. You see this is another throw away line that any political party will use to demonstrate that they are willing to do something about what the electorate cares about. Because we are now in a contest to vote in the next British Government and all of a sudden everyone cares about the little people. Tony Blair talked about listening to the people. Gordon Brown talks about listening to the people. But once any party is voted into power… nobody is listening to the people.

Back to the program and one unhappy person accused Mr Griffin of being in a minority with his view. Ironically everyone else wanted us all to celebrate diversity; but not it appears the kind promulgated by the BNP.

Now although I have encouraged everyone to vote for anyone except Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrats, I would have to include the BNP in the list of don’t vote for. Mr Griffin did not cover himself in glory at all during the program and his rhetoric was of a view that only, in my humble opinion, the ignorant would share. But in certain policy areas his party has struck a chord with the electorate. And how else are the electorate going to get the mainstream parties to ‘listen’ if they won’t listen when the people have voted them into power. Furthermore, it is not just a case of listening. Anyone can listen and do nothing after. Our future Government has to actually do something about ensuring that our country’s infrastructure can cope with an increasing population, that our councils are properly resources to handle the increase in population and that those people who are not entitled to be here do not just disappear off the radar but are sent home. This is what our current Government is not doing and this is what the other mainstream parties have no workable solution to.

The mainstream politicians may be less repulsive than the oleaginous Mr Griffin but there is one thing ganging up on a bigot, and quite another in finding and implementing a credible alternative to the policies that the he put forward and that a percentage of the electorate were attracted enough to vote for. Many protesters outside the BBC were repulsed by the notion that the awful British National Party should get any attention whatsoever. Likewise it would seem that successive Governments are repulsed by the notion that they should have to pay attention to the people who voted them in. From tonights televised performance they still have no intention of serving the electorate. We cannot remain a politically apathetic society and maybe there, Mr Griffin could have done us a favour - because we do live in a democracy and we get to choose who represents us in Govermnent.

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