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Griffin slaughtered on BBC’s Question Time

By Mark Littlewood
October 22nd, 2009 at 11:38 pm | 12 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

griffin-qt1For anyone who doubted the basic sense of allowing Nick Griffin onto this evening’s Question Time, watch the BNP leader in action.  And preserve us from the left-wing activists who were protesting outside TV Centre. They managed to give the BNP an endless stream of positive news coverage from this morning. Fortunately, at the main event itself, Griffin was roundly thrashed.

The man’s not a total idiot, but this was terrible coverage for the British National Party.

A victory for freedom of speech and a blow for the forces of authoritarianism (both left and right).

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Not even the military can lay a glove on the BNP

By Mark Littlewood
October 20th, 2009 at 5:50 pm | 6 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

tory-posterThe total failure of the mainstream establishment to tackle the BNP seriously has again been in the headlines with a bunch of military worthies bemoaning the party’s use of a spitfire on campaign posters.

General Sir “Mike” Jackson says,  “How dare they use the image of the Army, in particular, to promote their policies. These people are beyond the pale.”

Where were Sir Mike and the rest of the top brass when the Tories used the imagery shown here as a central plank of Thatcher’s re-election campaign in 1987.? I don’t remember any of them expressing disgust and outrage at the time.

There are lots of good reasons to find the British National Party completely loathsome, using the imagery of a spitfire isn’t a very compelling one.

The “campaign” against the BNP since the Euro elections has consisted of pelting Griffin and his entourage with eggs at their first press conference, obliging the party to admit non-white members through the law courts, seeking to block the BNP leader from appearing on Question Time and now this.thatcher-in-tank

The catastrophe is that Nick Griffin has been able to present himself as a fairly reasonable bloke at each and every stage.

At least the LibDems have the party’s best attack dog against him on QT on Thursday night – here’s hoping Chris Huhne eats him alive.

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Peter Hain makes me leap to the defence of the BNP and the BBC

By Mark Littlewood
October 19th, 2009 at 9:12 am | 7 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

peter-hainIt takes a particularly ridiculous politician to say anything – anything at all – that is likely to make me remotely sympathetic to the plight of either the BBC or the British National Party. But Peter Hain has managed it. Idiotically, he has written to the Beeb insisting that Nick Griffin is dropped from this week’s Question Time panel. His grounds appear to be that the BNP is now outwith the law, as it has yet to comply with the recent court ruling obliging them to admit non-whites into the party (although they have said they will do so).

The ruling – brought about owing to the actions of my ex-boss John Wadham – strikes me as pretty ridiculous. But it’s certainly no grounds whatsoever for denying Griffin a seat round the table on QT.

If unambiguous compliance with every aspect of the law is a criteria for appearing on the BBC, this might disqualify a lot of mainstream politicians who face private or public prosecution for fradulent expense claims. Perhaps Hain himself should be kept off our airwaves in virtue of having been referred to the police over his dodgy campaign finances.

The truth is that Peter Hain represents that deeply unappetising left-wing trait of wanting to ban things he doesn’t like very much. I hope the BBC resist and Griffin gets a chance to make his case – and to have it properly cross-examined by Chris Huhne and others on Thursday night.

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What does Iain Dale’s failure say about modern electoral politics?

By Mark Littlewood
October 18th, 2009 at 7:00 am | 10 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

iain-daleLast night, high profile blogger Iain Dale failed again in his search for a Tory seat in the next Parliament, by coming third in the Conservatives’ open primary to find a PPC to replace disgraced incumbent MP Andrew MacKay in Bracknell.

I don’t know Iain very well, but on the occasions I have met him, he has always come across an intelligent and well rounded bloke with a real passion for politics – and, indeed, for the Conservative Party.

The successfully selected Tory candidate was Philip Lee, who I understand is a local GP. I don’t know Dr Lee at all. He may well be the most erudite and talented British Conservative of modern times.  Certainly, Iain Dale is generous enough to describe him as “absolutely brilliant”.

But – even if Dale has been beaten by a political genius – it remains a surprise to me that he has been so staggeringly unsuccessful in pursuing his Parliamentary ambitions (and even more of a mystery as to why he harbours any!)

True, he was roundly thrashed by Norman Lamb at the last election. And I guess overseeing the conversion of a Liberal majority of less than 1% into a Liberal majority of 18% in 2005 is something of a black mark on his Conservative CV.

Some might claim that being openly gay is a disadvantage. I suppose that’s possible amongst the more paleolithic members of the Tory party – but surely is  not a fundamental problem overall in modern Britain.

I fear that Iain Dale’s failure to become an MP may be indicative of a wider problem in mainstream politics. It strikes me that the key attributes that the three main parties look for in candidates are usually:

1. Something approaching slavish loyalty to the party, its leader and its policies.

2. A Stakhanovite work ethic – in which your suitability for office (or at least for selection)  is partly measured in terms of the number of leaflets you have stuffed through doors or the number of by-elections you’ve assisted in. (This is to some extent a practical demonstration of point 1)

3. Proof of “local” credentials. Ideally, you and your family have lived within the same 5 square mile radius for generations.

This is a real annoyance for a voter like me. I basically want my politicians to be controversial, lazy and rather aloof.

The Tory party’s intriguing experiment with open primary selections has yet to show that it produces candidates who are either (a) of an obviously higher callibre or even (b) electorally more attractive as representatives of their own party.

When the occasional maverick does break through to the big time – such as Ken Livingstone or Boris Johnson, they tend to have an energising and polarising effect, which – by and large – I think is good for our democracy.

But at “entry level” being a maverick is poison. Best not to have any really strong, controversial opinions of your own. If you are cursed with any heretical ideas, keep quiet about them. If you do really need to mention them,  be sure to do so only in private and in very hushed terms.

I suspect Iain Dale’s high media profile and tendency to say what he thinks mitigates against him becoming a Member of Parliament. If that’s right, that’s not just a career frustration for him, but suggests that the next Parliament will be as full of stuffed shirts as the present one.  Just next time, there will be more of them wearing blue rosettes rather than red ones.

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Clegg has done too much gardening, but tells MPs to accept Legg’s demands

By Mark Littlewood
October 12th, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Comments Off on Clegg has done too much gardening, but tells MPs to accept Legg’s demands | Posted in UK Politics

gardeningNick Clegg faces the mild embarrassment of having shelled out £3,900 for his gardening expenses, when Sir Thomas Legg reckons three grand should have covered it. Nick’s paying back the excess.

Hearteningly, he seems to have got out the traps pretty damned fast on this one. And is calling on MPs to accept Legg’s demands without” quibbling, questioning or trying to drag their heels.”

One hopes that the LibDems ensure that all the party’s MPs swiftly attend to any repayment demands (i.e. preferably by close of play today). The whip should be withdrawn from those who don’t or won’t.

Nick Clegg should then be able to turn up the heat on Brown and Cameron to ensure their own parliamentary parties are equally compliant.

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