BBC NOT learning: No Platform for Fascists

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) has taken a recent a worrying turn towards providing fascists with a platform for their ideas. They have invited Nick Griffin, leader of the fascist BNP, onto their flagship programme Question Time, where he will be invited, along with representatives of the mainstream political parties, to give his views on current political issues. The programme will be aired on October 22nd. Also, on September 30th an interview was broadcast by the BBC’s Radio 1 newsbeat programme (aimed at teenagers) which purported to talk to two young BNP members, “Joey” and “Mark”  On the BBC newsbeat website there was a verbatim reprint of the interview and link to their fascist website should any of the young viewers’ “curiosity” have been aroused. Of course, both men are high up in the BNP hierarchy: Joey (Joseph Barber)  runs the BNP’s record label Great White Records and is one of its leading “artists”, recording tracks including Pondlife and Christmas Is A British Thing, Mark Collet is a former chairman of Young BNP and now the BNP’s Publicity Officer. In 2005 Collet, along with Nazi friends John Tyndall and Nick Griffin, was charged with race hate offences. In 2002 Collet was secretly filmed by Channel Four declaring his admiration for Adolf Hitler and Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair ( a protestant paramilitary  responsible for up to 40 murders). According to wiki:

On Russell Brand’s 2002 TV show RE:Brand, Mark Collett described homosexuals as “AIDS Monkeys”, “bum bandits” and “faggots”. As seen on the documentary, Young, Nazi and Proud, Collett said that he considered AIDS a “friendly disease because blacks, drug users and gays have it.”

The response so far to the BBC’s outrageous decision to provide a platform for the BNP has been both under-whelming and deeply worrying.

What is Fascism?

Often liberals will simply define fascism as irrationality, extreme racism or anti-Semitism and socialists will slip idly into applying this label to any centre-right grouping regardless. This is most definitely a tragedy for we become disarmed when actually faced with the evils of fascism; unable to differentiate between it and other repugnant anti-human forces, we allow it to grow and spread. This is most definitely the case with the recent rise of the BNP in the UK. If you have been spending your time calling Bush and Blair fascists, then it is highly unlikely you are prepared for the real battles ahead. Similarly, if you believe fascism is merely an odious out-dated ideology which can be defeated by “reasoned argument” then you are opening the doors to the army recruiting sergeants of Nazism. This marks the debate, or lack of debate so far, about the BBC providing a platform for fascists 

We believe Leon Trotsky captured the essence of fascism  when describing the rise of Mussolini:

At the moment that the “normal” police and military resources of the bourgeois dictatorship, together with their parliamentary screens, no longer suffice to hold society in a state of equilibrium — the turn of the fascist regime arrives. Through the fascist agency, capitalism sets in motion the masses of the crazed petty bourgeoisie and the bands of declassed and demoralized lumpen-proletariat — all the countless human beings whom finance capital itself has brought to desperation and frenzy.

From fascism the bourgeoisie demands a thorough job; once it has resorted to methods of civil war, it insists on having peace for a period of years. And the fascist agency, by utilizing the petty bourgeoisie as a battering ram, by overwhelming all obstacles in its path, does a thorough job. After fascism is victorious, finance capital directly and immediately gathers into its hands, as in a vice of steel, all the organs and institutions of sovereignty, the executive administrative, and educational powers of the state: the entire state apparatus together with the army, the municipalities, the universities, the schools, the press, the trade unions, and the co-operatives. When a state turns fascist, it does not mean only that the forms and methods of government are changed in accordance the patterns set by Mussolini — the changes in this sphere ultimately play a minor role — but it means first of all for the most part that the workers’ organizations are annihilated; that the proletariat is reduced to an amorphous state; and that a system of administration is created which penetrates deeply into the masses and which serves to frustrate the independent crystallization of the proletariat. Therein precisely is the gist of fascism….

For Trotsky fascism is not simply a parliamentary movement, or a section of the ruling class but a mobilisation of the masses, led principally by the petty bourgeois but funded by larger capitalists desperate to re-assert discipline over the social order:

The fascist movement in Italy was a spontaneous movement of large masses, with new leaders from the rank and file. It is a plebeian movement in origin, directed and financed by big capitalist powers. It issued forth from the petty bourgeoisie, the slum proletariat, and even to a certain extent from the proletarian masses; Mussolini, a former socialist, is a “self-made” man arising from this movement.

We quote Trotsky here not because he had special superhuman powers and was always correct but because no better analysis of fascism has ever come forth, indeed Stalinist (for Stalinists in the 1930’s, Teddy Roosevelt was a fascist) and liberal uses of the word fascist are exactly the analyses which have held back successful struggles against this vile creed.

We need to understand that fascists will always organise outside parliament, recruiting amongst the dispossessed and training that army in street battles against  key sections of the population, “immigrants”, gays and lesbians etc. By appealing to notions of racial superiority and traditional values they want to subordinate us to their hierarchies, rob us of our ability to organise collectively. This is why, although they tap into anti-capitalist slogans, they despise socialism and its belief in unity and equality.

It is also important to understand that it is particularly at times like these, a recession and rising unemployment, that the fascists see an opportunity for growth. They want to tap into the anger of the dispossessed but rather than provide a systematic attack against the causes of that misery, they want to scapegoat key groups like black people, Asians, Jews, and gays

Nick Griffin.

Now let us look at the leader of the BNP, the man the BBC have invited to appear on its flagship programme Question Time. He is a convicted racist. In 1998 he was was convicted of distributing material likely to incite racial hatred, for which he received a suspended prison sentence. He was also charged in 2005 with inciting racial hatred, but following a retrial was cleared. He has been the leader of the BNP since 1999 and is seen as the driving force behind presenting the party as a respectable parliamentary force.

Griffin is also a close associate of Italian convicted terrorist, Robert Fiore, they set up a language school together and are responsible for developing an organisation called the International Third Position, itself a development of the Political Soldier movement (which incidentally sought money from Gadhafi). What is key to all these movements is the notion of revolutionary nationalism, the subordination of everything to racial superiority. Their inspiration came from the military armies of the Spartans, the Romans, the Crusaders and the Iron Guard of Cornelia Zelea Cordneau (a Romanian fascist).

When Griifin spoke in 1993 of the BNP’s first elected councillor at the Millwall Council by-election, he was not getting confused by the euphoria of victory, when he said:

 The electors of Millwall did not back a post modernist rightist party, but what they perceived to be a strong, disciplined organisation with the ability to back up its slogan “Defend Rights for Whites” with well-directed boots and fists.

This is not simply an ideology, it is an attempt to build a mass fascist organisation that ramapages around the streets.

Some, however, are seduced by Griifin’s claim for respecatability, he has distanced himself from his holohoax position (Griffin denied the nazi holocaust took place), he has replaced compulsory repatriation with volunatary repatriation for “immigrants” as part of BNP policy and he has condemned the far-right English Defence League (he says it’s a Zionist plot to undermine his party). But this is the same Nick Griffin who led the standing ovation at a BNP meeting for the a gang of white men who, by running down the street attacking Asians and their property, provoked the Oldham riots in 2001.

The way to beat the fascists is firstly to meet them physically in the streets. This is not to glorify violence. As socialists we abhor violence but only through uniting to confront the fascists, can we prevent further and greater violence to come. Indeed, the fascists recruit from those who feel week and powerless and are attracted by the violent images of the fascists excercising “their power” but when black and white, women and men, gay and straight show unity and kick them off the streets, we weaken their hold on potential recruits.

The second is to deny them a public platform. Not only will a public platform give them an air of respectability it will also give them channels to encourage violence. When the gay community was attacked by ex-BNP member David Copleland in 1999: Griffin said:

The TV footage of dozens of ‘gay’ demonstrators flaunting their perversion in front of the world’s journalists showed just why so many ordinary people find these creatures so repulsive.

To give this man air time to spread his vile propaganda is unacceptable.


The BBC appear to have made the decision that the BNP’s success in the recent European Elections in the UK (they won 5.5% of the votes cast) entitles them to have their voice heard. Thus its decision to invite Griffin on Question Time and give airtime to “two young” BNP activists.

This absolutely scandulous and, until the BBC changes its mind with this disastrous policy, we call on all TEFL teachers to

1.      Boycott the use of BBC material in classes, boycott Teaching English British Council BBC blog and ask your students to boycott BBC Learning

2.      Write to (ask your students to write to) BBC Learning via explaining your (their) decision

Hope not hate. Unite and fight to defeat the fascists. A defeat for fascism in Britain is a defeat for fascism everywhere.



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8 responses to “BBC NOT learning: No Platform for Fascists

  1. Thank you for this illuminating post. The analysis you offer answers a lot of questions that are really important, as well as providing evidence of the full extent of the BNP’s hateful thinking. Totally agree there should be no platform for fascists. Treating the BNP as if they are a moderate political party is a mistake of great proportions and the BBC should be ashamed of themselves. Whatever next. Happy to follow your advice about possible forms of individual action – thx for that. Britain is a country of many cultures and this is to be celebrated. As you shouted a few slogans of your own, here’s one of mine “unity in diversity” and “never again”.

  2. Thank you. This is so well written…. it’s just so sad that it has to be written at all.

  3. marxistelf

    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the support.

    Saw this by Johann Hari in the independent today
    which details the viscious para-military activities of these groups.

    Unfortunately, Hari draws the wrong conclusions about no platforming these monsters.
    Then again, he thought the best way of protecting civil liberties in Iraq was to invade the country:

  4. I’ve got a feeling that you might not like this but I’ll say it anyway. To suggest that working class BNP voters do not know what Nick Griffin and his ilk are really like and will have the scales dashed from their eyes by watching him on Question Time is ….. patronising? romantic? illogical?

    Illogical? For starters, anyone who is politically interested enough to watch Question Time should have a general idea of the true nature of the BNP. Romantic? Patronising? The plebs can’t be racists, they just don’t understand what the nasty men really intend to do?

    Worst of all, it’s dangerous to think that way. Unless we accept that significant numbers of BNP voters have not been hoodwinked, they actually DO hate “darkies”, we have no starting point to fight back from.

  5. marxistelf

    Yes Darren,
    Nobody will have the scales dashed from their eyes, for this we oppose giving a platform for fascists. But we do think the general population needs to be clear about the difference between a racist and a fascist. The labour government are racists. They regularly invite people to see “immigrants as problem”. They proudly declare that they are keeping “our borders” safe. and promoting cohesion in “our” society. This is a clear message that there are outsiders and they are a danger. Is it any wonder that fascists thrive in this situation, take the nationalist logic of the current government to the next level? As for white working-class consciousness it is contradictory, (all consciousnees is) workers hate paying taxes but they support the national health service, white workers fear crime and terrorism from black and Asian’s because they are fed a diet of it everyday in the media but they also work alongside these very same people, live next door and belong to the same trade union. White workers enjoy the diversity that the UK has to offer but they are also fear for their jobs and their future in times like these. Facists feed on this fear. The appearance of the BNP on Question Time is about turning neighbour against neighbour, worker against worker.
    Labour and the Tories deal in “soft” racism, in times like this the fascists step in to present their “harder versions”, this why many in the labour party (people like Jack Straw) and the majority in the Tories will only help nazis by appearing alongside them. However, there are also stronger traditions of solidarity (within the labour party as well) who will react, who will know that when your neighbour is being scapegoated for the problems in society, the best thing today is to join your neighbour on the streets and silence the lies of those spreading hatred. The alternative is unthinkable.

  6. Well, I saw six minutes via the guardian website. I’m hoping to get the rest of it soon (no iplayer in Japan). A lot of smirking from Griffin, jeering from the audience and sneering from the rest of the panel. What exactly did that achieve? And NG even made a good point about Churchill – he WAS a horrible racist. If anything positive did come of it, it was heartening to see the strength of the protests but I wonder how many of the protesters came from Stoke-on-Trent or Bradford?

  7. marxistelf

    Hi Darren,
    Yeah, I doubt any good did come from it (and here we’re thinking of any growth in the anti-fascist forces versus the publicity and respectability the fascists got out of his appearance on Questio Time) . This new approach of the BNP of claiming to be in the tradition of Churchill is worrying. Churchill may have been a foul racist believing in the supremacy of the British empire but he is revered (in our view wrongly) for his part in “saving Britain” from evil fascists. Griffin also pushes the anti-war position, troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but we should not be fooled by such tactics. Griffin is a holocaust denier and always will be because his vision of society has always drawn from fascism and his admiration for Hitler. He is not in the tradition of Churchill (this role falls to both Brown and Cameron) but in the tradition of Oswald Moseley and his fascist black shirts. We need to hammer this point home at every opportunity, because Grifin is more dangerous than your average Tory (Labour) politician.

  8. Pingback: It’s not only English UK who stand to lose from the “return” of economic nationalism. « Marxist TEFL Group

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