London: A fascist British politician who openly wants Indian and other immigrants to be deported to their countries of origin, was pilloried by the audience during prime time BBC programme on Thursday night amidst protests on the streets.
The BBC's decision to invite Nick Griffin, British National Party (BNP) leader, raised a welter of protest with hundreds of protesters grappling with the police during a violent demonstration outside the television centre in London, where the Question Time programme was recorded.
Griffin shared the panel with members of mainstream political parties such as Justice secretary Jack Straw (Labour), Baroness Warsi (Conservative) and Chris Hune (Liberal Democrats). The audience included Asians, African-Caribbeans and white British.
OUT WITH FASCISM: A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of BNP leader Nick Griffin during a protest.
Amidst criticism that the programme had lent respectability to the fascist party, the BBC insisted that it was right to invite Griffin on the programme because the party had won over a million votes in the June election to the European Parliament and that the party had not been banned.
On the widely watched programme, ethnic minority members of the audience termed Griffin a 'disgrace', while others ridiculed his stance on race and immigration.
Straw highlighted the fact that British campaigns during the two world wars included large contingent of soldiers from the Indian sub-continent.
Griffin, whose party until recently admitted only whites as members, claimed that he had changed his views and had no problems with Indian and other communities who had settled here, but was against allowing any more immigrants in the country.
One Asian member of the audience asked him bluntly, "Where do you want me to go? I love this country, I'm part of this country. I was born here, educated here." He went on to advise Griffin to go to the South Pole if he wanted an all-white country.
Griffin coming on to the programme dominated prime time television channels and newspapers. While many dismayed at the BBC inviting him on the programme, others agreed with the BBC stance and saw the programme as an opportunity for the British public to know more of Griffin and his party.
John Walker, a resident of Belfast, said, "If Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time has the ultimate effect of shaking the 'great' British public free of their political apathy and encourages them to ask probing questions, then his appearance will be a good thing".