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Mark Thompson the director general of the BBC has today defended the state-owned broadcaster’s decision to maintain impartiality and give BNP leader, Nick Griffin, a platform on tonight’s controversial Question Time.
Griffin, who is also a member of the European Parliament, landed himself in trouble earlier this week when he used a World War II spitfire to promote his far-right party, will have an opportunity to clarify his views on race relations, the level of unemployment the war in Afghanistan and whether or not Britain should remain part of the European Union.
In an e-mail to his supporters Griffin said:
Fellow British Patriot,
Question Time is scheduled for 10.35pm TONIGHT on BBC 1 and will be a milestone in the indomitable march of the British National Party towards saving our country.
Our violent opponents on the far Left have promised to lay siege and barricade the studio venue, because they know only too well that this could be THE key moment that propels the BNP into the big time.
Never before have we had the chance to present our patriotic, common sense solutions to Britain's nightmare situation to the public at large in such a prominent fashion. However, members and supporters must be aware that this show will be a stage-managed farce organised in a specific way to leave several impressions: The audience will be hand-picked and overtly hostile - thus giving the impression that the British people at large must be hostile to BNP views. The panellists will be overtly hostile, even the non-political guests will be hostile. Everyone will be hostile - this will leave the impression to non-informed viewers that BNP views have minority status.
I will, no doubt, be interrupted, shouted down, slandered, put on the spot, and subject to a scrutiny that would be a thousand times more intense than anything directed at other panellists.
It will, in other words, be political blood sport. But I am relishing this opportunity, and I know that, despite the stage-managed hostile audience and panellists, YOU, the ordinary members, supporters and voters of the BNP, will be in the studio with me as I take on the corrupt, treacherous swine destroying our beautiful island nation.
Yours sincerely for Britannia.
Nick Griffin MEP
The decision to invite the BNP leader to the Question Time panel is unpopular at Government level with Welsh Secretary Peter Hain calling for the BBC’s invitation to be withdrawn. The Prime Minister, however, Gordon Brown speaking to the Real Radio Yorkshire this morning said:
"If on Question Time, they are asked about their racist and bigoted views that are damaging to good community relations, it will be a good opportunity to expose what they are about. At every point, I believe we have got a duty to expose the BNP for what are racist and sectarian politics. Anybody who listens to what they are really about will find that what they are saying is unacceptable. In a recession, people are tempted to vote against their traditional voting patterns like voting Labour, which we regret. But I want to persuade people that voting for the BNP is not the right thing to do."
With UK youth unemployment topping a million and five hundred more young soldiers being sent to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban the programme promises a political bloodbath not to be missed.
The panel also include Justice Secretary Jack Straw; Deputy Chairman of the British Museum's Board of Trustees, and playwright Bonnie Greer.
Before tuning in have your say on the studentguardian poll where we ask should the BBC have invited the leader of the British National Party to appear on Question Time?