LibLink … Chris Huhne: Why I will debate with Nick Griffin

Over at the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog, Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne – who will be appearing alonsgide BNP leader Nick Griffin on Thursday night’s BBC1 Question Time – argues that it is time for liberals to challenge the fascists head-on. Here’s an excerpt:

The BBC has judged that two MEPs in a nation-wide election entitles the BNP to a voice on Question Time, just as previously a similar threshold elevated Ukip and the Greens. The BBC’s duty of impartiality is too important to have broadcasting executives decide that some opinions are acceptable and others are not, providing of course that those opinions are within the law (notably in avoiding incitement to racial hatred or violence). Therefore I do not myself criticise the BBC for making the invitation, even though I am acutely aware that extending such democratic rights to a party that does not respect them is paradoxical. …

Nick Clegg and I thought long and hard about the issue. Should we signify acceptability for Griffin by appearing alongside him? Would that merely make him seem mainstream? These are real risks. However, once the BBC had extended the invitation, we concluded that it would be perverse to exclude the liberal political tradition that is most diametrically opposed to the authoritarian and nationalist views of the BNP. We had to take Griffin on.

The issue here is different to the old “no platform” policy. I would not appear at a meeting organised by the BNP, and nor would I extend an invitation to them. It is no part of the business of an elected liberal to drum up larger audiences for our most reviled opponents. They are welcome to their freedom of speech, but they can choose their own street corner and their own soapbox without my help. But the BBC has decided to invite Griffin, and I fear that Thursday night’s excitement would not have been called off just because the Liberal Democrats decided not to participate.

You can read Chris’s article in full here.

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3 Comments

  • My worry is that CH will be there arguing against their views, which are shared by many in both Tories & Labour but not their methods. The BNP combine political campaining with intimidation & violence. Will chris be saying that & will he be allowed to ?

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