Sunday, November 25, 2007

Time for some perspective

I've just got in and seen the BBC News website currently running as their third front page story MP quits union over BNP speaker. This is part of the ongoing row about whether or not the Oxford Union (for those unfamiliar a debating society and not the university students' union) should be inviting Nick Griffin and David Irving to speak.

Now "No Platform" policies are so controversial as to generate lengthy posts in their own right so I'll just refer people to my previous post The rise of the British National Party.

What I do think is crucial is that excessive publicity should not be generated. The Oxford Union may have had many members who went on to achieve fame, but it is after all merely a university debating society. This should not be a major media story. By giving so much coverage of the Oxford Union invitation to the BNP leader, the media is elevating it to a level of importance it doesn't need or deserve. There are those for whom this is an issue - within other universities and also locally in Oxford for instance. But beyond that, all this does is to artificially inflate the story and help the BNP.

The way to tackle the BNP is to tackle the root causes of their support, not get into lengthy debates about "freedom of speech" and whether or not a legal political party and its leaders should be treated as pariahs. Sideshows like this are merely helping them to play the role of martyrs who the chattering classes want to silence.

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