question time: did the straw man really slay the griffin?

by Adam Ford

Viewers of the BBC’s Question Time were confronted by many truly repellent outbursts from the platform on 22nd October. The screening – which had generated massive controversy due to the debut appearance of British National Party chairman Nick Griffin – often broke out into shouting and boos as the audience expressed their disgust with Griffin’s barely disguised racism and homophobia. But a significant early comment by another panellist went almost unnoticed amidst all the fury: Jack Straw claimed that Labour and the other ‘mainstream’ parties’ have a “moral compass”. In this article I will examine that claim, look at the ideological role of Question Time, and criticise the tactics of Unite Against Fascism and the Socialist Workers Party.


(Photo by Mike Fleming)

Since it began in 1979, Question Time has been a centrepiece of the BBC’s political coverage. During that time, it has played a significant role in framing the national policy debate, in determining which views are (and which are not) acceptable as ‘mainstream’. When the programme began, in the early days of Margaret Thatcher’s first Conservative government, there were four panellists – one each from Conservatives, Labour and the Liberals (as the third party were known at the time). The fourth panellist would be a prominent ‘talking head’, often from the fields of academia, the media or religion. In 1999, the panel was expanded to five guests, and the show experimented with ‘outsider’ figures, such as comedians, but this was quickly ditched. Continue reading “question time: did the straw man really slay the griffin?”

the rising threat of the bnp: the underlying causes, its present nature and prospects

by Dan Jakopovich

In this paper, I will try to provide an integrated analysis of the British National Party as a political organisation and a political movement. I will begin by analysing its political evolution after the split from National Front, through the long period of John Tyndall’s neo-Nazi leadership of the party, to its current modernising phase under the leadership of Nick Griffin. This second part of my analysis will deal with the causes of the BNP’s relative success (which I will examine through the perspective of “demand side” and “supply side” factors), and a basic assessment of the space that exists for its growth. I posit that – while Europe-wide statistical research of far Right development remains in many ways inconclusive – there are some indications (such as the convergence of main parties, the relative “crisis of legitimation“, and its possible augmentation in the course of the economic crisis) which seem to indicate there is considerable space for far Right growth.


This inquiry into the BNP’s modern trajectories will also entail an analysis of its present ideological nature. Here I will (among other things) show that, despite certain adjustments, BNP nonetheless remains informed by various fascist motifs, and can be defined as racist and “nativist” (I will explain this concept later). Finally, I will broadly indicate what a successful progressive response to the rising far Right challenge might have to look like.

Continue reading “the rising threat of the bnp: the underlying causes, its present nature and prospects”