Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 29 October 2009

If the BBC had intended to act as a recruiting sergeant for the BNP it could not have done a better job. I have no difficulty with the invitation to a BNP MEP to appear on Question Time – what else could you do in a democracy? But to reconfigure the entire event into a one-sided assault upon Mr Griffin was ill-judged. And to have BBC radio phone-in programmes focussing for days on whether he should be invited before the event and then debating how it went afterwards added fuel to the fire. The audience for the programme rose from 2.5 million to 8 million and they witnessed a display of abject unfairness which could only have increased support for this party. They saw a man who claimed to voice their concerns being hounded by the pack.
The real problem however in current British politics is that we have created a vacuum. I was hopeless at physics at school but I do remember that if you create a vacuum something will always try and fill it. There are genuine policy concerns around immigration, integration and Britishness which we have been too timid to tackle in the past 15 years. If you dared to challenge levels of immigration you were branded a racist. The result: a good old fashioned void at the centre of national anxiety which the BNP have been allowed to fill. Add in a recession, disillusionment with the political classes, a few predictions about immigration fuelled population growth, and hand it all over to the Daily Mail to trumpet with their customary hyperbole and you have the seeds of a very real problem. Not wholly unlike the situation that allowed Hitler to come to power between the two world wars.
As they have democratically elected people the BNP are entitled to be heard, but to not make them the centre of attention. You only need to know one thing about them: my favourite rugby player Jason Robinson, Cheryl Cole's husband Ashley and Leone Lewis would not be allowed to join the BNP because they have a non-white skin.
But we in mainstream parties must get our act together quickly. We must clean up our expenses mess at Westminster even if there is some personal unfairness in the decisions Sir Thomas Legg has reached. We must bring forward robust mainstream solutions to the issues that people fret about and fill the void. We have months not years.

posted by Gary @ 10:01