Michael Rosen, former Children's laureate and Radio 4 presenter, has said it will erode trust in the BBC which
'is like a public place – we all own it and need to be a part of it. It has a responsibility to everyone. "They make this very clear when you work for them. If I were to say anything remotely similar to the things Nick Griffin has said and will say tonight, I would not be allowed on.'
"The BBC is obsessed with putting things 'through compliance', to ensure no one will find programmes politically, sexually or socially offensive. I have been stopped from reading a poem that contained one swear word before. Yet while they go into palpitations over things Jonathan Ross says, they are allowing Nick Griffin airtime to say things that will offend millions."
Yes, you wouldn't be allowed on to your show about the English language with such views, Michael, but neither would a Tory espousing Thatcher or a Labourite praising Marx, you numptie - you are an employee, political guests are allowed political opinions - your point is only valid if Griffin was David Dimbleby - Harriet Harman always offends me when she's on - by his logic I can object to her being on - I seriously can't believe he actually said that
He reckons it will offend millions and erode trust in the BBC in viewers - well, here's something for you, Michael Rosen - were the BBC to deny a legal party, who have the same level of representation as the Greens and UKIP, space on this show simply because they were disagreeable, I would lose trust in the BBC
Steve Richards, meanwhile, gets himself in a muddle by admitting the BBC are right to give the BNP, supported by nigh on a million people at the last election, a platform but then tries to demolish it by saying that they were 'mistaken' as
Research carried out by YouGov found that roughly half of BNP's voters were truly racist, the other half were people who feel insecure and alienated from the main parties. In other words just one per cent of the electorate last summer were racist BNP voters.
Dear god, Steve - they still voted for them! Do you go around checking if every Lib Dem voter isn't actually a narked off Labour voter? Or that some of the Labour votes in '97 weren't actually from Tories...should you discount all the protest and swing votes from an election?
They got themselves a million votes - does it actually matter if 'only half were racist'? They have other issues that they talk about - they may well be lying, but what political party hasn't lied and reneged on a promise or pledge...or manifesto commitment
Nearly a million votes is nearly a million votes - you don't have the right to second guess what those voters want
Chris Huhne, who will be facing
Now I appreciate that he is appealing to the Guardian's audience, and so has to say that 'I really don't want to, but I must', and he doesn't criticise the BBC - as I said, Guardian - the cynic in me sees right through it as a watered-down version of a free speech argument to appeal to the typical Gruniad reader who opposes the BNP's right to exist, I think he's just paying lip-service
But, what a true Liberal should say, Chris is this:
Why I will debate with Nick Griffin
The decision was not difficult in the least
Because I believe in democracy and free speech, and racism is a part of that free speech, even if I don't like it, because there are always people out there who disagree with us, and the only way to defeat an opinion is to debate it, not censor it
I do not, of course, tolerate racism-based violence, that is a crime - but to hold racist views is not, and even though most of us regard the BNP as merely a legitimate front for something far worse, they are nevertheless a legitimate party with elected representatives
Of course, these are my own views and while I disagree with others on this, I respect their right to think and say what they want, unlike them, who seem to miss the irony of their views