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Saturday, 21 April 2012

The BBC debate, the BNP invite & the row about it

The candidates for London Mayoral election 
For the first time in this election the BBC London offered all seven candidates the chance to debate together on Monday. The Labour candidate Ken Livingstone announced he "wouldn't share a platform with the BNP". Despite the fact when he was mayor sharing a platform with misogynistic, homophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-western, suicide bombing supporting Yusuf al-Qaradaw.
Ken and Al-Qaradaw 
Now Carlos Cortiglia the BNP candidate has made no misogynistic, racist, anti-Semitic or homophobic remarks during this election. But more surprisingly the Labour candidate has said "rich Jews wont vote Labour" and I would class that as pretty anti-Semitic as well as it being an ignorant sweeping generalisation. The BNP are a legitimate party they were represented on the Greater London Authority at the 2008 elections, therefore the BBC has a duty to allow them air time. Its what the law requires.

Now the Green candidate Jenny Jones has also pulled out because of, she claims, the BNP participation. She has also tweeted this morning "Note to all racist ppl who keep tweeting me calling it weak not to engage. This is engagement. You are boring. Begone". People from across the political spectrum are criticising the decision to withdraw therefore it is a sweeping generalisation for Ms Jones to brand everyone who thinks it is a sign of weakness not to take on the BNP as "racist".

When the BBC's Question Time ran an edition with the Leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin, on the panel. Labour's Jack Straw, Conservative Sayeeda Warsi and Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne all took Mr Griffin on and the BNP collapsed in the polls and the party got thrashed at the subsequent general election. Therefore the candidates would be better taking on the BNP as it seems they're simply running away from the debate.

The Liberal Democrat candidate, Brian Paddick wont be taking part due to being unable to "have a serious debate without Ken Livingstone". And Conservative Boris Johnson's team say they were offered a four way debate but hadn't agreed to take part, a spokesman for Boris Johnson said "Boris would not share a stage with the BNP." 

Despite those withdrawals, a spokeswoman for UK Independence Party candidate Lawrence Webb said he was still planning to take part. "We are going to take every opportunity to talk to Londoners, particularly as we are fourth in the polls but are being treated as an also-ran." She said it was "pathetic" to pull out of the debate over the BNP adding: "Are there any toys left in their pram?"

The Independent candidate Siobhan Benita has said on the issue: "I want to debate with ALL the candidates. This radio debate was the only BBC mayoral debate where I was getting the chance to go head to head with Boris and Ken so it's particularly disappointing for me. I'm currently barred from debating with the other candidates on the BBC TV debate on Sunday night and I have no voice at all on the ITV debate next week. I've heard nothing from the BBC about whether the debate is still going ahead. The other candidates don't seem to understand that appearing on a platform with the BNP doesn't mean you support them. I'm not in favour of the BNP. I'm in favour of democracy. I say to the other candidates: let's do this debate and let the public make up their own mind".

A spokesman for the BBC said it wanted to hear from all the candidates in a single studio debate, but that was "a big logistical challenge" and "might not be possible".he said "It is up to individuals to decide whether to take part".
The BNP campaign refuse to speak to bloggers and freelance journalists therefore were unavailable for a comment.