1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Far-right Britain

October 24, 2009

More than fifth of the British public would consider voting for the right-wing British National Party, according to an opinion poll conducted for a national newspaper following a controversial edition of a BBC program.

British National Party chairman Nick Griffin
BNP leader Nick Griffin won a spot in the EU parliament over the summerImage: AP

Almost a quarter of the adult population of Great Britain would consider voting for the anti-immigration British National Party (BNP) following an appearance by the party's chairman, Nick Griffin, on the BBC Thursday.

A poll conducted by YouGov for the Daily Telegraph newspaper released on Saturday shows that 22 percent of Britons would "seriously consider" voting BNP in a future local, general or European election.

According to the website of the Daily Telegraph newspaper, this included four percent who said they would "definitely" consider voting for the party, three percent who would "probably" consider it, and 15 percent who said they were "possible" BNP voters.

Two-thirds of those polled said they would not consider voting for the party "under any circumstances," while the rest were undecided.

More than half of those surveyed agreed with the BNP or thought the party "had a point" in wishing to "speak up for the interests of the indigenous, white British people...which successive governments have done far too little to protect."

Griffin, who was a guest on BBC's "Question Time," was asked about his views on the Holocaust, immigration, Islam and homosexuality by a panel and members of the audience. He has accused the broadcaster of setting a lynch mob on him in a controversial edition of the show, which was watched by a record 8.2 million people – almost three times the average number of viewers.

He demanded that the BBC give him a "second chance" to get his views across, and insisted that "the British people are aghast at the display of bias from the BBC."

Recruitment flood

The far-right, anti-immigration party claimed Friday that 3,000 people registered to sign up as members after the show in what it described as its "single biggest recruitment night."

In addition, the BBC said it had received more than 350 complaints from viewers following the screening, the bulk of which accused the broadcaster of bias against the BNP and its leader.

Among those watching was Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of France's far-right National Front party, who in 1984 saw his support double overnight after appearing on a high-profile TV political discussion show. In an interview with London's Evening Standard newspaper on Friday, Le Pen suggested that the BNP would receive a boost from the program.

Anti-fascist demonstrators protest outside the offices of BBC in west London
Protestors demonstrated outside BBC studios on the day of showImage: AP

"Small fish will become big so long as God gives them life. All political groups have started as marginal before becoming important," he said.

Downing Street said Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not watch Question Time but thanked Justice Secretary Jack Straw for appearing as the representative of the ruling Labour Party.

Straw said the program had been "catastrophic" for Griffin who had been "exposed as a fantasizing conspiracy theorist with some very unpleasant views and no moral compass."

Cabinet minister Peter Hain, a veteran anti-apartheid campaigner who fought unsuccessfully to try to stop Griffin's appearance, said: "This is exactly what I feared and warned about.

"The BBC has handed the BNP the gift of the century on a plate and now we see the consequences," he added. "I'm very angry about this."

Editor: Kyle James