Monday, June 27 2016

Channel 4: ‘Keith Allen Meets Nick Griffin’

Channel 4 on Monday broadcast ‘Keith Allen Meets Nick Griffin’, a documentary in which Keith Allen (the actor/comedian/musician, perhaps better known as the father of the singer Lily Allen) interviewed the leader of the BNP, Nick Griffin, aiming to “penetrate the headlines and discover what really lies behind this extremely controversial figure.”

Amongst Griffin’s controversy is his conviction in 1998 for distributing material likely to incite racial hatred. The documentary makes shocking viewing- much of the conversation shown in the documentary is dominated with Allen seeking to understand and subsequently challenge Griffin’s views on Islam and Muslims, and how the party has transitioned from being racist and anti-immigration to one that is now vehemently Islamophobic (and still anti-immigration).

Through the documentary for example, Griffin expresses views such as that Muslims cannot be assimilated into British society because “what they want in a society is hugely different”; that there is no such thing as an “English Muslim”; “Islam is inherently wicked” and he also describes the Quran as an “imperialist manuscript for conquering other people’s countries rather than a religious book”. Allen challenges his Islamophobic bigotry throughout.

An article by Keith Allen in the Independent states the following:

“Making a documentary about the BNP leader was always going to be contentious, and you may wonder why we ever embarked on it. The programme was born out of us watching how the media covered the notorious edition of BBC1's Question Time that featured Griffin shortly before the last election. The media declared that he'd been humiliated, and that the BNP had been trounced in the subsequent election. Yet the BNP actually almost trebled its vote, from 192,746 in 2005 to 563,743 in 2010. Why were the media insisting that the BNP had been annihilated, rather than focusing on the disturbing fact that well over half a million people had voted for them? And was their relentless vilification of Griffin, while pleasing to their liberal audience who'd never vote for him anyway, paradoxically making him more attractive to those alienated sections of the population who just might?

“Griffin didn't reveal himself to be either a monster or a madman, but expressed his political views – many of which are utterly loathsome – in a logical and coherent manner. His party is no longer racist, he claimed, because people of all ethnic backgrounds are welcome, so long as they subscribe to core "British" values. I did point out to him that the BNP was forced by law into making that change, and, in reality, BNP membership remains as remorselessly white as ever.

“Under Griffin, the party has become obsessed with anti-Islamic rhetoric, replacing racial intolerance with religious intolerance. Griffin even claimed during the interview that "the Koran isn't primarily a religious tract: it's a handbook for conquering other people's countries". This is a deliberately provocative statement designed to play on the lowest prejudices in "white Britain" against Muslims.

“Although I bluntly refuted his statements and called him "a Nazi... lacking in humanity" to his face, I let him speak.”

The documentary is available to watch online for another 28 days on 4od- follow the link here.

Channel 4 also recently broadcast ‘Proud and Prejudiced’, which looks at the leader of the far-right English Defence League, Stephen Lennon and Muslim extremist Sayful Islam. Proud and Prejudiced is still available to watch on here on 4od for another 21 days.

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