I can say confidently with the benefit of hindsight that it shouldn't have been too much of a surprise. There was a bit of a flurry of criticism for the Telegraph when it allowed Richard Barnbrook to have a blog in its MyTelegraph section. The blog did indeed serve as rope for Barnbrook to hang himself with, providing material that led to him being suspended from Barking & Dagenham Council and exposing him as confusing, unpleasant and muddled, completely incapable of defending any of his bizarre pronouncements.
Some of the worst posts have been taken down, leaving a boring mess behind and the blog is a tumbleweed-strewn wasteland. The official BNP mirror of the blog hasn't been updated since May. Google his name, and you'll see the summary of his mirror blog telling you it's the blog of Andrew Brons. Even at its height, Barnbrook rarely, if ever, answered any commenters on his MyTelegraph blog and never once answered a critic. All that happens now is the odd flurry of three or four posts every now and again, livened up only by his hilarious fantasy versions of what happened at Mayor's Question Time and the inclusion of photos like this:
This is a job for TWATMAN!
I mean, please.
But it looked as though Griffin would somehow be different. Barnbrook is stupid enough to walk around with a buzz-cut side parting and wear a Hitler Youth Uniform coloured suit while desperately trying to pretend he isn't a fascist. Griffin, we were told, is very intelligent. He wears a normal coloured suit and everything. Maybe he could trick us all.
What we didn't realise, perhaps because he gets mercifully little exposure, is that Griffin is almost as bad as Barnbrook. It should have been obvious from his really bad record of making pronouncements and then backtracking when he realises how normal peple will react, or from the fact that he's in the BN bloody P, but he was never going to devastate the panel and convince us all to vote for him, like Lex Luthor or something. He was going to stumble, dissimilate and try to gloss over the obviously mental fascist stuff he's said in the past. And he ws going to do it badly. Why did anyone (including me) ever suspect he might do well against Bonnie Greer? She's normal and intelligent. She ate him for dinner.
When it looked as though Griffin was going to the Queen's Garden Party, I knocked together an animation with Xtranormal, showing Griffin accidentally slipping into a rant and exposing himself. That's exactly what Griffin has done now, in a reaction to his poor performance.
He starts off well, apparently saying, "That was not a genuine Question Time; that was a lynch mob," complaining about the slighlty different format of the show, and, "People wanted to see me and hear me talking about things such as the postal strike. One or two questions about what a wicked man I am, fair enough, but the whole programme – it was absurd. Let's do it again but do it properly this time." Fair enough. Nobody really wanted to hear him talking about mundane stuff, but you might be persuaded to give him the benefit of a tiny bit of the doubt because the show's format was slightly different.
But then he ruins it, with:
"That audience was taken from a city that is no longer British ... That was not my country any more. Why not come down and do it in Thurrock, do it in Stoke, do it in Burnley?Whoops. Mr Griffin, your bigoted, lying rubbish is showing. I could go all forensic here, and point out that the BNP's national support in the European elections was only one percent higher than the BNP's support in last year's London Assembly election, but there's not much point really. Like all BNP politics, he's not attempting a rational argument. He's attempting emotive crap designed to plug into base fears in the knowledge that he won't be challenged properly on it like he was last night, when he was found wanting. Badly, badly wanting, with his, 'but he was one of the nice Ku Klux Klan people' (I'm paraphrasing) and 'I'm not telling you' approach to answering questions about holocaust denial.
"Do it somewhere where there are still significant numbers of English and British people [living], and they haven't been ethnically cleansed from their own country."
"There is not much support for me there [in London], because the place is dominated by ethnic minorities. There is an ethnic minority that supports me: the English. But there's not many of them left."
Surprisingly, Griffin is calling for another go. If he got one, he'd only put his foot in it again and make himself look like a tool. Because he is a massive, massive tool. The wider an audience he gets, and the more people hear his 'ethnically cleansed' London nonsense, the more people will understand he's racist, and a tool.
There must come a point when we can stop hand-wringing about the 'white working class' and 'legitimate concerns' and start saying that people who vote for the BNP are either disgusting racists or knowingly abetting disgusting racists by voting for them. With any luck there'll be fewer BNP voters left to say that about.
Because, believe it or not, some people - even 'white working class' ones - vote BNP because they're racist. They may have been manipulated and pushed into that racism (see most of my previous posts about the tabloids here) but they're racist nonetheless.
With any luck, Griffin's appearance will have re-stigmatised the BNP rather than de-stigmatised them.
**UPDATE** My very intelligent wife has just pointed out the outrageous distastefulness of using the term 'lynch mob' to describe his treatment on Question Time and 'ethnic cleansing' to describe London. Especially after excusing himself for sharing a platform with a former Ku Klux Klan leader.