Current Affairs

Comment: Why I heckled Nick Griffin on Question Time

Jessica Geen October 23, 2009
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Last night, one of the most effective voices to come out of the audience on Question Time was that of Beth Mellington-Pritchard.

A lesbian in a civil partnership, she countered BNP leader Nick Griffin’s assertion that homosexuality was repulsive, saying: “The feeling of revulsion is mutual.”

Mellington-Pritchard, who was seated with her partner, received cheers and clapping for her comment while Griffin smiled and laughed.

She also said she was pleased the Daily Mail had published Jan Moir’s contentious article, as it had shown that the majority of the British people did not agree with Moir’s sentiments.

Here, she explains to why she heckled the BNP leader.

“As a democratically elected MEP, I felt it was necessary for Mr Griffin to be invited to appear on Question Time and I was pleased that the BBC recognised this. I was even more pleased to be invited to be part of the audience and to have the opportunity to scrutinise Mr Griffin’s odious opinions.

“Prior to broadcast the audience waited in a room together for an hour and I have rarely seen such a diverse group of people. Some people have criticised the BBC for selecting a biased audience, but there was an array of opinions and backgrounds. Indeed, there were also a number of BNP supporters and whilst we waited for the recording to begin they plotted amongst themselves how they should split themselves around the studio to make it appear that Mr Griffin appealed to a broad range of people.

“I found the behaviour of the BNP audience members particularly sinister and my discomfort intensified when they cheered Mr Griffin’s entrance to the stage. I believe that it was their cheering for Mr Griffin which led to the widely reported subsequent jeering and booing by some other people. .

“I did have concerns about the show providing oxygen for Mr Griffin’s cause, but he presented himself as both hateful and ridiculous, thus showing that the BNP is unelectable. If some of his claims hadn’t been so serious they would have been laughable. For instance, he defended mingling with David Duke, an ex-leader of a Ku Klux Klan, because he is “almost entirely non-violent” and he attempted to deflect questions regarding his history of holocaust denial by pretending he was legally bound not to discuss the issue (despite Jack Straw’s subsequent assurance that there would be no legal repercussions if Mr Griffin answered the questions).

“Throughout the programme I was disturbed by Mr Griffin’s opinions and I felt compelled to challenge him when he was asked for his opinion on whether the Daily Mail should have published Jan Moir’s controversial article arguing that Stephen Gately’s death ‘strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships’. In Mr Griffin’s response, he said he found the idea of homosexuality ‘repulsive’. At this stage, the chair, David Dimbleby, invited comments from the audience and I replied to Mr Griffin that as ‘person in a civil partnership and a homosexual the feeling of revulsion is mutual’.

“I am fortunate to have never suffered or listened to homophobia first hand before and I cannot tell you how enraged I was by the comments Mr Griffin made about gays. I consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to stand up for the gay community and I have been touched by the subsequent messages of support that I have received from both friends and strangers alike.”

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