October 23, 2009 in Nation/World

BBC puts whites-only party leader on the telly

Associated Press
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

Griffin
(Full-size photo)

LONDON – The leader of Britain’s far-right party outlined his vision in a controversial television debut that critics fear could help his whites-only party ease into the political mainstream.

British National Party leader Nick Griffin feuded with fellow panelists and was excoriated by hostile audience members in a tense appearance on the BBC’s “Question Time” program Thursday.

“It was hard-going,” he said after the show, describing the program as “a bit like a boxing match. I took some punches but I was able to land some punches too.”

“Question Time” gathers Britain’s leading politicians, journalists and other public figures in a panel to take questions from a studio audience. Many have condemned Griffin’s first-ever invitation to the show as awarding his far-right group an undeserved aura of political respectability.

The BBC said that, as a publicly funded broadcaster, it must cover all political parties that have a national presence. The BNP has no seats in Britain’s Parliament, but earlier this year the party won two seats in the European legislature.

The program showed Griffin defending himself against accusations that he sympathized with the ideals of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party – but also showed him ducking the question of whether he ever denied the Holocaust.

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