Just the mention of the BNP is highly emotive so before I go any further I feel the need to put it on the record that I am absolutely not a supporter of the BNP or any of the underlying values that it stands for. I watched this weeks Question Time...the circus that was the appearance of Nick Griffin, Leader of the BNP and MEP and felt the need to blog about this.
I found the lead up to the progamme, the programme itself and the debate that followed to be fascinating. But I also think that 'the establishment' (the politicians and the media) made an error in the handling of the situation and missed an opportunity to show Mr Griffin for what he is.
Whatever you think of Mr Griffin and his policies he was bullied throughout the programme, which was also hijacked from it's normal format to provide a Griffin bashing forum. My fear whilst watching this was that the average fair minded Brit would take offence at his treatment - we have a natural affinity to the underdog. Furthermore, I felt that given the limited opportunity he had to speak uninterrupted, we the viewers weren't given the opportunity to hear enough of his policies to get past the sanitised version that he was attempting to portray.
So what has been the impact of this ? Sadly a Telegraph YouGov poll taken hours after the programme has confirmed my fears. The headline has been that 22% said they would consider voting BNP but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Most worryingly 'More than half of those questioned said they agreed with the BNP, or thought that it “had a point” in wishing to “speak up for the interests of the indigenous, white British people ... which successive governments have done far too little to protect.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/6417906/One-in-four-would-consider-voting-BNP.html)
So what is the cause of this ? And are we really becoming BNP supporters ?
I think the common view that these attitudes are borne out of a reaction to recent high levels of immigration is a smoke screen. I'm sure there are rumblings about this but I don't believe it to be the main issue. I believe that the main issue here is the sense of marginalisation being felt by, in particular, white, heterosexual men. There are special interest groups for just about every section of society other than this one. We have women's rights groups, we have the National Black Police Association and other similar organisations, we have Music of Black Origin awards, we have gay rights groups...the list is endless but we don't seem to have a white heterosexual men's group. And can you imagine the outcry if there was one ?
The frustration that is leading to the BNPs increasing support is due, in my opinion, not to racism, but to a lack of fair play. We must all be treated equally, not some sections of society being treated more equally than others. If it's OK to wear a burkha it must be OK to wear a crucifix. The English should be allowed to fly their flag in support of their sportsmen. Our children should be allowed to enjoy nativity plays without them being banned for causing offence. Our children should be made aware of homosexuality but not force fed through school stories and discussion. There should be an end to women only shortlists in parliament.
We must all work to achieve our goals through hard work not 'hand outs' and 'leg ups'. We must apply the same expectations and standards to all our fellow citizens regardless of race, creed, colour... We should try and remember that we are all more similar than different. Treat one another with kindness and humility and we can all cohabit these wonderful islands in harmony. To ignore these issues will surely only serve to push more voters into the BNP fold.
I'm sure this post will be stimulating debate in your mind so I would be interested to hear your views...