What the hell were they thinking on *Today *this morning? Discussing the racially-motivated riots in Wrexham, the BBC’s flagship morning news programme brought on Nick Griffin to comment (RealAudio). Nick Who? He’s a Cambridge law graduate and leader of the fascist British National Party. According to this biograf in an FT story,

It has become a commonplace, since Griffin was elected leader, to describe him as the “acceptable” face of the British far right. Comparisons have been made with other personable – or well dressed – leaders of the European far right, such as the Austrian Jorg Haider and the late Dutchman, Pym Fortuyn. But that sits uneasily with the facts. Griffin has promoted race hatred for nearly 30 years, since joining the National Front aged 15. In 1997, he said the BNP should not try to appeal to “middle-class notions of respectability… It is more important to control the streets of a city than its council chambers.” In 1998, he received a two-year suspended sentence after conviction for distributing material likely to incite racial violence. In 1999, the year he took over as leader, a former BNP member set out to reduce London’s gay, black and Asian communities by blowing up nail bombs in Soho, Brixton and the East End. After this year’s elections, Griffin restated the BNP’s ultimate aim for an all-white Britain – but told a local newspaper that Asians in Burnley had nothing to fear.</p> So what’s wrong with allowing this ever-so-charming individual to exercise his right to free speech? Well, in Anglo-Saxon journalism, the convention of “objectivity” and “balance” is in practice the strategic framing of a topic by juxtaposing two or more views on a topic. In American journalism, this usually achieved by juxtaposing views of representative of two institutions, such as “the White House” and “Capitol Hill”. British journalism, by contrast, achieves the same objective by juxtaposing two political parties’ views. In this case, Griffin was follewed by the local Labour MP, who naturally rubbished everything Griffin had said and condemned the BNP.

But the fact that Griffin was brought on as the representative of one of the range views on the events in Wrexham is very disturbing. He was asked serious questions as if he was a the spokesman for a mainstream political party.

Just because his vile party now holds a number of seats in British local governments doesn’t mean he has anything meaningful to contribute to the BBC’s reporting on Wrexham, where the BNP has not (yet) made any progress. His minions have only got involved there the way they do whenever racial tensions make headlines in Britain: as an oppertunistic publicity excercise. Why he was invited on as a pundit is beyond me. What a terrible judgement call by the BBC.

(Their item on blogging yesterday [RealAudio] was embarassing, too.)