I’ve entered a bit late into the game discussing the rights and wrongs of the BNP being offered an appearence on ‘Question Time’, and this debate has certainly been exhausted between the ‘No Platform’ brigade and those pesky libertarian-sorts. I myself don’t really know where I stand on the issue. I believe if Nick Griffin is confronted by a credible, charming and quick-witted individual with a good sense of humour then his ideas can be discredited there and then. However, if it is left to an individual who has backed the Government on ‘British Jobs for British Workers’, who has perhaps played the xenophobia card at a local level (and some have) and who has done little in the way of arguing the case of the poor against the rich, then Nick Griffin will probably have a field day eating into other people’s records, whilst escaping vigorous scrutiny of his own warped-world view.
The Tories and the Lib Dems have stated that they will share a platform with the BNP, only leaving Labour to state whether or not they’ll be taking up a chair. I can’t imagine any politician who would actually want to sit next to Nick Griffin, would they really risk having a photograph of them next to the most notorious (perhaps infamous) man in Britain? I would think probably not. So I’m now going to state my all-Parliamentary ‘Dream Team’ to take on the BNP on BBC’s ‘Question Time.’
In the Blue corner for the Tories we have Eric Pickles, MP for Brentwood and Ongar. The MP, who has a folksy manner to him, has made several gaff’s, most notably suggesting the police officer with the baton who struck Iain Tomlinson moments before his death had been unfairly pre-judged, as well as his previous appearence on ‘Question Time’ when he took some heat for having a second home despite living 37 miles from Westminster. However, he is one of the few Tories who does not give off the immediate impression of ‘Toff’, and was not implicated in any major way in ‘Expenses-Gate.’
In the Yellow (Gold or Orange, etc.) corner, we have Norman Baker, the Lib Dem MP for Lewes in Sussex. Norman Baker has a reputation for being a more honest than honest MP, often leading the debate in opening up Westminster and to make it more accountable and transparent than it is. He is not a party hack in the traditional sense, leaving no one free from his criticism, including those from his own benches. He also hails from the ‘Ginger’ Beveridge Group of left-leaning Liberal Democrat MPs.
Before I get onto who should be taking up the Labour seat, I should mention who should fill the ‘fifth’ and potential ‘sixth’ seats. An invitation should surely go out to Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, who is articulate, highly intelligent, and knows how to deliever a ‘bloody nose’ to most politicians. She would be free to attack Nick Griffin, his ideology, and the BNP’s world-view without any political repercussion, in other words, she will do the politicians’ dirty work for them. If a sixth seat was offered, and I deffinately think there should be a five-on-one set-up for any show with Nick Griffin on, then it should go to the like’s of Peter Tatchell, who has the war wounds of standing up to intolerance and homophobia around the world. He is also famous for his attempted ‘citizen’s arrest’ of Robert Mugabe, a real internationalist in every sense, and someone who would ruffle Nick Griffin’s feathers a fair bit.
Finally, the Red seat, perhaps the seat the bookies would open a few bids on. This, for me, is the most difficult one to decide. I have split this into two camps, the ‘Ministers’ and the ‘Backbenchers.’ Whilst I believe a more credible anti-fascist would be a backbencher such as Jon Cruddas, MP for Barking and Dagenham, or Dianne Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, the lack of a Government Minister would be exploited by all, the Tories, the Lib Dems, and far more worryingly, by the BNP. Thus, the mantle would pass to who I consider to be the real ‘Dream Ticket’ in the event of a future Labour leadership contest, Ed Milliband, MP for Doncaster North, and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, or Douglas Alexander, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, and Secretary of State for International Development. Out of those two I would prefer Douglas Alexander on the grounds of being the more senior, and less ‘boyish’ than the baby-faced Ed Milliband. He has a little more experience of Government and the media than his counter-part, and would be capable of standing his ground against tirades from Nick Griffin. I believe any other Government Minister would have too much history, would be far too well known by Griffin and his team, and would invite too much criticism from their fellow panelists. Sometimes being a ‘big hitter’ in the Cabinet is a folly, especially if it’s the current Cabinet.
So, in order, my ‘Question Time’ ‘Dream Team’ to take on Nick Griffin:
Eric Pickles, Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar
Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty
Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and prominent member of the Green Party
Douglas Alexander, Labour MP for Pailsey and South Renfrewshire
I will patiently await and see if the ‘Dream Team’ will do the business.