Oh the arrogance of these political pygmies, they really do think they know us - when in fact they simply believe their own propaganda about us.
Their Hubris will spawn their own Nemesis.
Should the BNP be allowed on Question Time? Of course they should. And Newsnight, the Andrew Marr Show, BBC Breakfast, the Daily Politics, the Today programme, PM, The World Tonight, This Week, you name it. Hell, they should be given a run-out on This Morning with Phil and Holly, a slot on the One Show and a weekly outing on Have I Got News for You.
Giving these racists publicity is like handing them a length of rope.
All it would take is three months of full-frontal exposure and not even the denizens of Burnley would bother to vote for them. If you disbelieve me, take a look at their website. It is pure comic book stuff, so lacking in intellectual rigour, so riddled with inanity, so comically prejudiced, that it reads like parody, not policy. It kept me so amused yesterday that I forgot to watch the footie.
One characteristically pithy remark by Nick Griffin, their leader, caught the eye when he described me as “a tragic victim of multi-racism”. Well, not me personally, but those of my ilk: the progeny of “miscegenation” (i.e. mixed-race kids). “The divine or Darwinian pressures which created different races in the first place also very clearly created the innate human tendency to prefer ‘us’ to ‘them’ as the way in which such differences would be preserved,” Griffin wrote.
And later: “Nor even does it mean that we think that it is a good thing for even a single person of European stock to have so much as one child with a Japanese or Chinese. We do not, because such a union mixes what are not meant to be mixed, destroys two ancient family lines, and undermines two equally great but entirely separate cultures.” I laughed out loud reading this stuff, really I did. Guffawed at its preposterous ignorance of population genetics; giggled at its blurring of genetics and culture; tittered at its bizarre attempt to straddle creationism and Darwinism; sniggered at its dressing up of brute prejudice in the guise of pseudo-intellectualism. Some oppose the lowering of the voting age to 16 on the grounds that adolescents lack the intellectual maturity to make an informed choice between the parties — but any literate twelve-year-old could see through the transparent foolishness of the BNP.
And that really is the point. The BNP is currently surfing a shallow wave of popularity not because it gets too much exposure, but because it gets too little. Keep this bizarre organisation beneath the parapet, deny its members airtime, raise the spectre of censorship, give them an opportunity to proclaim that they are being treated unjustly, and you hand them kudos of incalculable potency. But give them a good airing and only somebody in severe need of Sudafed will fail to smell the stench.
And this is why it is so depressing that a Cabinet minister said yesterday that he would boycott Question Time for its decision to allow a member of the BNP on its panel in October. Is this minister really so contemptuous of democracy, so disdainful of free speech, that he will not go head to head with a political opponent? Is he really so scornful of the British people that he does not trust them to perceive the rotten creed at the heart of BNP policy? Or could it be that he fears he lacks the debating skills to expose the BNP for what it is? Either way, it smacks of cowardice, not principle — at least that is how it will be perceived.
Remember Buster Mottram? The former British number one tennis player and one-time supporter of the National Front? The man who, at the height of racial tension in the 1970s, said: “I hope Enoch Powell will never die, just as his namesake in the Bible never died.” The chap who, only last year, tried to broker a pact between the BNP and UKIP (emphatically rejected by the UKIP leadership).
I mention Mottram not with any great pleasure but because there is an analogy to be drawn between sport and democracy. Sport is a competition between individuals in much the way that democracy is a battle between ideas. If you are a tennis player about to play Mottram at Wimbledon, you cannot win by default, however much you might wish to.
You have to go out there and play: expose the weaknesses in his game with the force and vigour of your own; demonstrate your superiority not by evasion and avoidance, but through direct engagement.
And that is the only way to defeat the BNP: they must be outplayed, exposed, given the run around until they get dizzy and fall over. It is not as if — with their ramshackle policies and absurd racial obsessions — they offer much in the way of opposition. If a Cabinet minister really feels uncertain about his ability to give Griffin a good thrashing in a televised studio debate, we should be even more worried about the state of British politics than about the state of British tennis.
It is sometimes said that a belief in democracy requires a deep-seated faith in the wisdom of the electorate and the vitality of liberal institutions. That is true, so far as it goes — and there may come a time when that faith is properly tested. But giving the BNP airtime requires no such faith. This is a party that is parasitic on disillusionment with mainstream politics as well as on an ignorance about what really makes it tick.
The more oxygen they are given to publicise their views, the more the British people will choke on their bigotry and hatred.