From the editor: Why we spoke to the BNP
Ben Duckworth says blackballing Nick Griffin and his party no longer works. The BNP must be exposed to scrutiny
It was not an easy decision to include an interview with Nick Griffin. It was the cause of serious discussion among the staff here. Our decision has also come at the cost of two members of our editorial board, who resigned. It's important therefore to explain why we've done it.
Much of the coverage of the BNP centres on their conceptions of race. This is because they are obsessed by it. In our interview, Griffin claims he'd tell his son and an Asian girlfriend to think about their bloodlines before getting involved in a relationship. He continues to make a feeble defence against charges of anti-semitism. The BNP was forced to change its constitution to allow ethnic minorities to join. Racism remains the primary motivation behind their politics.
But the BNP is attempting to appear as mainstream as possible. This is where the danger lies. While Nick Griffin should find it impossible to overturn Margaret Hodge's 8,883 majority in Barking, the anti-politics mood in Britain is visceral. Turnout could be far lower than it should be for a general election as important as this. There is a continuing disconnect between politics and the people, letting the BNP cast itself as a protest vote.
Now the BNP has two MEPs who are able to speak in the European Parliament, we don't think blackballing the party works anymore. It adds to the sense of the BNP being a protest against a political elite. The party therefore has to be exposed to scrutiny.
We believe the BNP has to be challenged on its policies as well as its world views to counter its pernicious presence. Not talking about the BNP does not stop them campaigning on doorsteps, peddling their nonsense and filling a gap where other parties should be.
Our remit is to be positive about politics. That does not mean we can't see enormous problems with the health of British politics currently. Our greatest concern would be for a party that offers people nothing to profit from the situation. We have a history of keeping extremism out of mainstream politics in this country. I hope we can keep it that way.