Friday, 23 October 2009


Apparently I belong to a group of two million people. People, who like me, sit down in front of the television and watch "Question Time" on the BBC on Thursday evening. Usually come 10.35pm and the start of QT, Mrs Troy decides to go to bed and I respond along the lines of "I'll just see who they've got on the panel and perhaps listen to the first couple of questions". Nine times out of ten though I end up watching the entire programme and find it generally very interesting though occasionally irritating [eg Shirley Williams].

However this Thursday was different. A further six million people tuned in to "Question Time" and even Mrs Troy delayed her beauty sleep. Only someone who had been out of the country for the past few weeks would have missed the phenomenal publicity the BBC had built up ahead of the first appearance on QT of Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP. Prior to his appearance the usual left-wing Rent-A-Mob had violently protested outside the BBC and Labour's Peter Hain, invoking a Mugabe interpretation of democracy, had tried to get Griffin's appearance banned. The show however went ahead and the BBC, rightly in my view, gave a place on the panel to the leader of a party which has two MEPs as well as growing band of local councillors.

At this point maybe you are wondering (and indeed worrying) whether Troy is a closet BNP supporter? The answer is a most definite NO!! Many of the BNP's policies, other than on "race" are ultra-left wing being extremely socialist in nature. The BNP support comes primarily from the white working class, let down by its instinctive home, the Labour party. I might flirt with UKIP but never BNP.

Thursday's QT was unlike any other QT I've ever watched. It was primarily a case of four panellists, a "chairman" and a largely hostile audience goading and baiting one panellist (NG) about BNP race policies. Attacked from all quarters, including an outrageous performance by the Chair, NG was interrupted and ridiculed throughout. The BBC had taken a calculated decision to reformat the programme away from its usual format of various topical issues being addressed equally to all panellists. The venue, Central London, ensured the BBC an audience representative of 'Inner-City' rather than being representative of the UK as a whole.

NG as an individual did not impress. However despite being in such a caustic, hostile environment he did land one or two solid verbal punches in the discussion. Jack Straw never seemed to recover from a revelation early in the programme that unlike NG's father who had fought in the RAF during WW2, Straw's father alledgedly spent the time in prison having refused to fight the Nazis. Later, Straw's outright refusal to concede that Labour's mass immigration policy had been a significant recruitment driver for the BNP won't have been lost on many viewers. Whilst Labour remain in denial the BNP will continue to flourish. For the Conservatives, Baroness Warzi performed extremely well other than for one major gaffe. At one point, she interupted NG telling him that there was no such thing as a "bogus" asylum seeker. In a clever legalistic way, perhaps she is correct, but I suspect the average BNP-targetted viewer would recognise an economic migrant claiming asylum for what they really are. (And if none are bogus then why are less than 100% deemed genuine and admitted?).

So, what were the final scores? No, the BBC didn't adjust the format of QT to the extent of having final scores - in many other ways they changed it, but not this! My own final scores (out of 10)would be:-

Straw (Labour) 2 [some commentators have since wondered whether he was ill]
Warzi (Conservative) 7 [would have been 9 without the above mentioned gaffe]
Huhne (LibDem) 5 [which is not bad for a LibDem]
Greer (playwright/novelist) 5 [generally a well measured performance]
Griffin (BNP) 4 [better than he could have hoped for given the bear-pit atmosphere]
Dimbleby (Chair) 1 [I think he will look back in shame on his performance as Chair]
BBC 2 [recognised the democratically case to include NG, but radically changing the format of QT showed total bias]

and publicity for the BNP - beyond price (and their wildest hopes).

(So, were you watching the same programme I watched?)


bantambabe said...

I, too, usually watch QT and watched with particular interest this week as one of our North West MEPs, i.e. NG, would be giving his vile views an airing! The BBC made a huge mistake in not following the normal format and, thereby, allowed NG to come across as a victim of bullying by the rest of the panel, including the Chairman! A lot of heat but not much light was shed as a result. However, I thought NG was evasive, looked uncomfortable and shifty and lost every point, being unable to explain many of his previously held views which were on record. I fear, though, that will be forgotten due to the BBC's chosen format for the programme.

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

I watched most of it and thought NG came across badly, although I agree that they should have followed the usual format of the programme.

Selina Kingston said...

I was pleased that NG was going to be on the programme as I thought it was right that his views should be publicly challenged and people would see him for what he is. That would have been the case if the programme had kept its usual format. He gave away what a vile homophobe he is, for example, in his answer to the only non-BNP question of the night. The fact that the rest of the programme centred on his ideology though allowed him to complain him, probably justifiably, that he felt beaten up.
I have just come across your blog by the way and it's bizarre as I have just posted about NG myself!

cheshire wife said...

I watched some of QT, which is normal for me. I would watch it all if it were on earlier in the evening. (Some of us need beauty sleep or to get up to go to work on Friday). I agree NG did not come over very well. I think that he should have anticipated that he was going to get a rough ride, irrespective of the make up of the audience. QT has a knack of showing panelist for what they are even when chaired in an even handed manner.

By the way I was in the QT audience 18 months ago and asked a question. DD does not have an easy job.

Troy said...

bantambabe - good summary. I didn't realise he was "your" MEP.

Debs - you are lucky in Jersey being outside the EU. Maybe one day we'll have our own Liberation Day to celebrate in the UK.

Selina - welcome. I've just had the briefest of looks so far at your blog as I've been away from home for a couple of days and without the internet(!).

cheshire wife - gosh, one of my readers has appeared on TV![Actually bantambabe's husband appeared in a TV documentary so lots of fame around!]. Is your appearance on Youtube? If so, let us know how to find it. I applied to be in the audience recently (for Colchester, 20 miles away) but heard absolutely nothing from them.

Thanks for all (4 of) your comments - politics doesn't seem to inspire many of my blog readers so I appreciate the few that do comment.

Ladybird World Mother said...

Didnt see it which was hugely disappointing as I love the programme... but heard all about it on the radio as I drove to Oxford the next day... think I heard as much of the programme as you did!
Think I will have to settle down and watch it on the internet as I feel I missed out...
PLEASE dont stop doing these type of posts... I love them. Your audience just becomes a little more select! x

Troy said...

LWM - thanks for your comment. I've been feeling guilty these last couple of days for not doing another blog posting but then along comes your nice comment. I do try and vary the things I blog about here.