As was widely predicted, Griffin presented a moderate tone throughout - and whilst the man heads a "former" Nazi party, he wasn't going to goose-step onto the stage was he? He portrayed a very middle of the road image; polite, took a lot of personal criticism without reacting and thanked anyone who asked a question. He did not put on a demonstration of a man with a persona of outright hatred - but nor do I think he was being particularly honest all of the time. Which brings me to the other members of the panel.
This is because there were big flaws in all the other panellist's appearing. If the BNP are the worst choice politically at the next election, then the others are just as clueless - this was supposed to be the great de-robing of the British National Party, in which case I feel it was a missed opportunity:
Jack Straw went on frequent hopeless and meandering semi-speeches throughout the show. I lost a lot of respect for this man in that hour, his inability to answer a question outright was infuriating - and painful viewing. He surely wanted to ground to swallow him up when reminded his father was in jail during wartime for refusing to fight the Nazi's, and that he had the blood of 800,000 Iraqi's on his hands. The blow was dealt by Griffin, ouch. The show at this point wasn't going "to plan".
Bonnie Greer was an interesting inclusion for me; witty, intelligent, black and positioned right next to Griffin. She gave some interesting insight and got the BNP leader cornered on historical facts a couple of times but the biggest flaw was her lack of political input. This was no fault of her own, but meant that she had to look t apply things being said to her field of knowledge which made it all more than a bit disjointed. Every time she spoke we didn't learn anything about the true BNP, certainly nothing new at least. The BBC should have included someone from mainstream politics with her attributes to really root out the BNP, but then they had to settle for Baroness Warsi.
That said Baroness Warsi was probably the most cohesive of the panel, chipping in with many interesting and valid points. After doing her fair share of BNP bashing she did concede that the ground Griffin's BNP party fought needed to be addressed by mainstream political parties. This was around topics like immigration etc - so therefore she and the conservatives have been almost forced to recognise that Griffin's party has some valid points that are agreed with by voters? Scary stuff but not out of line with her general stance:
People who back the BNP, criticised for its racist and homophobic agenda, may even have a point. They have some very legitimate views. - WarsiShe wasn't bad, but the future of UK politics? That's debateable in its own right.
Chris Huhne from the Liberal Democrats put in a mediocre performance. Whilst not wanting to attack him too much, he displayed all the worst characteristics of a politician. Frequent meandering, dour replies to often straightforward questions. He was so focused on attacking the BNP outright he often overlooked the question, seemingly in favour of soundbites. The Liberal's should be capitalising on the collapse of the Labour vote, the question marks over the Tories and fact that people (surely) don't want to vote BNP. This was the best man the Lib Dem's could send? Clueless.
And Dimbleby, the host, was his usual patronising self. Whilst the BBC would never have bumped him from the show for this event, a presenter or correspondent from the current political arena might have actually got some answers out of people instead of the just constant "we hate BNP"...which we all know...*sigh".
As I also imagined would be the case people with nothing better to do with their time other than "activism" did their bit to cause disruption by invading the BBC. Quite whose views these people represent other than some pub crawling student body is hard to see - their actions play into the BNP's hands if anything. Someone needs to remind these people that dialogue is the only way forward, injurring Policemen is not.
Low point of the show for me: One particular moron who "mistakenly" referred to the BNP leader as "Dick" Griffin. Shouldn't we, as the allegedly sane, moral people of the population, not be able to put a question to the man without shouting, screwing our faces up and resorting to cheap shots.
To that man: That was your moment on the pedastel to get answers out of the BNP and you chose to waste precious seconds making a oaffish joke. Calling him a "dick", just plays into his hands - that's hardly exercising your right to free speech cleverly now is it?
So all in all, entertaining, interesting, but any more of an insight? Questionable.