BNP leader Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time dominates the front pages and opinion pieces of Friday’s papers.
The Times carries a half-page photograph of anti-fascist campaigners protesting outside BBC Television Centre before the show was recorded.
For that paper, Libby Purves writes of host David Dimbleby “only occasionally was it apparent that his flesh was creeping”; Matthew Parris remarks that “nobody dared try what, if it could have been done, would have been the most devastating tactic of all […]: to brush him aside as a small man, enlarged by the anger of his enemies”, and David Aaronovitch concludes :
The Guardian focuses on Mr Griffin’s denials with the headline “As protesters bay outside BBC, Griffin insists ‘I am not a Nazi'”. In an editorial column , the paper portrays the BBC as
The Daily Mail headlines its report “Bigot at Bay”.
“Jeered, scorned and ridiculed… but still BNP leader milks his moment in the spotlight,” the Mail says.
The paper says the “priceless air time” has left the BBC facing accusations of “publicity-seeking naivety” and Max Hastings regrets that “[a]s a history lesson, almost all the panel talked tosh.”
The Independent reports on the demonstrations under the headline “Griffin’s baptism of fire at the BBC”.
It says the BNP leader had to be smuggled in through a back door. Tom Sutcliffe reflects :
The Daily Telegraph has a photo of Mr Griffin surrounded by his minders as he arrived at the BBC.
It says the corporation was “under siege” after the BNP leader used his appearance to attack Muslims and homosexuals while defending the Ku Klux Klan.
It says the “controversial statements” were made in response to “intense questioning” by audience members from ethnic minorities.
The Sun carries the headline “When Auntie Met Nazi” and says Mr Griffin “outraged the Question Time audience”.
“Booed Nick Griffin smugly” joined the panel after the BNP leader sparked mayhem at TV Centre, it reports. The paper’s deputy political editor Graeme Wilson writes : “Shifty and ridiculous, the BNP leader crumbled before our eyes.”
The Daily Express describes the appearance as a “dangerous and shameful moment” for British democracy, its editorial claiming :
The Daily Mirror says Mr Griffin “slunk away” from the BBC after a “pitiful display” which exposed him as a political lightweight.
But in its leader column, it says “free speech should not include the right to spread hatred on national TV”. Political editor Kevin Maguire adds :
The only way to beat fascists like Gri££in and The Red fascists front of The SWP/UAF or any politician is to organise in working-class communities and fight for working-class autonomy. NOBODY ELSE IS GOING TO FIGHT FOR US