A round-up of responses to Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time.
All today's newspaper comment pages are dominated by discussion of the BNP leader's inclusion on the panel of BBC One's
In The Times,
Libby Purves writes
of host David Dimbleby "only occasionally was it apparent that his flesh was creeping";
Matthew Parris remarks
that "nobody dared try what, if it could have been done, would have been the most devastating tactic of all... to brush him aside as a small man, enlarged by the anger of his enemies", and
David Aaronovitch concludes
He confided that he thought the BBC to be 'part of a thoroughly unpleasant ultra-leftist establishment', when voters know it best for Strictly Come Dancing. He showed himself to be, not so much a fearful Nazi, as kook.
In an editorial column
, the Guardian portrays the BBC as
a ratings-hungry corporation [which] failed to defend the values embodied in its own equality policies; it confused ultra-relativism with a proper commitment to free speech.
The Daily Mail says the "priceless air time" has left the BBC facing accusations of "publicity-seeking naivety" and
Max Hastings regrets
that "[a]s a history lesson, almost all the panel talked tosh."
For the Independent,
Tom Sutcliffe reflects
Was it an early Christmas present for the BNP, an audience member asked finally, as Peter Hain had charged? If it was it was one of those presents that requires you to adopt a fixed and unconvincing grin, and which falls apart in your hands even as the wrapping is coming off.
The Sun carries the headline "When Auntie Met Nazi" and says Mr Griffin "outraged the Question Time audience". The paper's deputy political editor
Graeme Wilson writes
: "Shifty and ridiculous, the BNP leader crumbled before our eyes."
The Daily Express describes the appearance as a "dangerous and shameful moment" for British democracy,
its editorial claiming
Griffin has learnt plenty since his days as a National Front boot boy. He has coated himself with a fake veneer of respectability, becoming the purveyor of a sharp-suited, soft-focus form of fascism.
The Daily Mirror says Mr Griffin "slunk away" from the BBC after a "pitiful display" which exposed him as a political lightweight.
But in its leader column, it says "free speech should not include the right to spread hatred on national TV". Political editor
Kevin Maguire adds
The logic of Thompson's argument is Griffin will be invited on other programmes which feature other politicians. Putting Griffin on Question Time inflates his position. Last night the BNPer was deflated. Let's leave it at that.
In the live programme that follows Question Time, This Week,
host Andrew Neil talks about the West London studio audience
I wonder whether we see a different programme from the one that's being watched out in the country? The danger tonight was that the British people, famous for their fair-mindedness, saw one man being beaten up by five other people on the panel, including the presenter, and by an audience that was overwhelmingly hostile to him.
On Radio 4's Today programme
, David Aaronovitch tells John Humphrys:
He said the BNP was opposed to all sex education for primary-school-age children, which is an absolutely ludicrous policy. It means you wouldn't tell girls about puberty until a lot of them were already passing into it. I think he thought that was somehow a vote-winner... Maybe his grasp on what the British people thinks is not quite as good as he thinks it is.
On the same show, Kelvin Mackenzie says:
I've never seen a television show in which you felt your stomach turning over. The guy was basically lying his head off to create an image that he was basically a conservative who just had very strong views about immigration.
Nick Robinson blogs
about Mr Griffin's insistence that the "indigenous people of Britain" were victims of genocide, noting that "surprisingly few of them appear to have noticed" and concludes with a couple of questions:
Will voters now feel they know what the BNP really stands for and cannot stand for it? Or will they say that's largely irrelevant if your aim is to tell other politicians: 'It's time you woke up to our concerns'?
At The Spectator's Coffee House Blog,
Peter Hoskin picks as the "defining moment"
the exchange where "the audience greeted his claims about a "non-violent" Ku Klux Klan member with simple laughter. You suspect that will have hurt Griffin more than anything that's been said about him over the past few days."
James Forsyth adds
, with reference to an early obscenity bleeped out on transmission:
"If the audience is grown up enough and mature enough to deal with Griffin, then it is able to handle a swear word or two."
The programme invites viewers to debate using Twitter. ConservativeHome's
Tim Montgomerie notes during the programme
that "#bbcqt is most quoted hashtag worldwide"; Screenwipe's
Charlie Brooker opines
Question Time seems to have given birth to a new phenomenon: 'the cyanide of publicity'
- and fellow comedian
Peter Serafinowicz opts for the terse tweet