Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002


I have just written my first complaint to the BBC, about the transmission of the BNP’s Party Political Broadcast tomorrow night. Hopefully if enough people complain to them (and indeed to other broadcasters like ITV, Channel 4 and Five) then the programme will not be shown, or at least be edited. BECTU, Unison and the NUJ, the unions which many staff at the BBC are part of, all support the campaign against the BNP through Unite.
If you are going to complain, please try to write your own message and not copy+paste a boilerplate letter – that way it is more likely that your comments will be noticed.


  1. I think you raise an interesting point there Neil.
    I personally have no intention of voting for the BNP come the election but I am very interested in hearing what they have to say and what they are campaigning for.
    Why should I be denied this because people like you don’t feel it should be broadcasted? Surely if you don’t think it should be broadcasted the nit would be easier just to not watch it!
    Their whole campaign doesn’t solely revolve around racism and I think they have some very interesting views on how the country should be run. Burnley hasn’t done that badly has it?
    Have you actually read the BNP manifesto or do you just feel this way because you are told to? You’re told the BNP are evil therefore they are!
    I think in today’s world people are too quick to jump on the ‘bandwagon’.
    Maybe if we all went and did a bit of reading, found out the facts, then made an intellectual opinion based on those facts then the world would be a safer place. Instead we are stuck with people like George Bush!

  2. Neil,
    I have to completely disagree with you, while I would never vote for a party like the BNP I totally abhor censorship and as long as the broadcast doesn’t incite racial hatred, it should go ahead. Last time around their intial ad had to edited so it could be broadcast and that seems ok to me.
    I don’t agree with anti-war protestors like yourself, that doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t have the right to speak.

  3. In agreement with dave above, surely if the bbc pulled the advert at such a late stage, it would only provide more free publicity for the BNP, more than would be gained by airing the ad, which is only likley to be watched by very few people anyway.
    As much as I disagree with them on many matters, thay have a right to exist, and people have a right to vote for them (or anyone for that matter). This BNP panic every election time benefits nobody except the BNP.

  4. Unfortently, the BBC hasn’t got much choice whether to broadcast it or not. I believe the BNP is classed as a significant political party (I think the criteria is a candidate for at least one sixth of all available seats) and under the (insert name of legal act which I can’t remember ATM) act, they have got to give equal airtime to each party. The Electral commission is the body to really complain to.

  5. While I have absolutely no love for the BNP – or any extremist politics, left or right – I am wary about curbing the right to express opinion.
    This is an issue that’s troubled me for some time now: how do you allow for freedom of expression without the system being exploited by those that would use it to deceive and manipulate people’s trust and fear for their own ends. The BNP are by no means alone in that agenda – every single political activist or party I’ve heard or known uses similar techniques – but they are prominent for their particular policies.
    I get the distinct impression that such an ‘open’ playing field – where everyone gets a say, no matter what that say is – is too vulnerable to corruption. I wonder if it’s possible to moderate that openess without disrupting freedom of expression/opinion/speech? Perhaps ‘everyone gets a say, so long as the opinion expressed does not oppress or harm another individual, culture or race’? It’s such a minefield though.

  6. I have read the BNP manifesto, yes. It’s all part of ‘knowing your enemy’. I have also had first-hand experience of just how awful the BNP and its minions are.
    My argument is that with granting people the right to free speech, we are also granting them a responsibility to use it in a way that does not harm or threaten others. The BNP have demonstrated that they are incapable of doing this, through their links with sites like Redwatch (a link which they deny but that I and many others could prove) and the views expressed by their members.
    Furthermore, the BNP would, if given sufficient power, deny free speech to those who are against them – i.e. anyone who isn’t white, heterosexual and able-bodied.
    Members of staff at the BBC can refuse to co-operate with the transmission, in the same way that postal workers can refuse to deliver BNP flyers and mailshots.
    To reach this decision was hard for me – I appreciate the right of free speech as much as the next guy – but these thugs must be stopped. They are highly manipulative and very good at putting out an image that tries to make them look respectable enough for people who would normally gag at their policies to vote for them. ‘Pulling the Plug’ is one of the few ways that we can protect these more vulnerable people from being swayed.

  7. We shout very loudly when they try silencing the extreme left. It’s only fair that we make the same noise about people trying to silence the extreme right.
    Socialist intolerance and prohibition on freedom of speach and freedom of political discourse is just as abhorent as Fascism’s supression of free speach and political discourse.

  8. I can still remember the one “five” showed for the local elections. It was wacky as hell. They’re forced to show the broadcasts by law as they have a right as an official party to be able to campaign. Anyway “five” didn’t want to show it at all, so instead muted the sound in all the crucial moments so that it didn’t make any sense (on purpose). Was really funny. “five” argued that the broadcast would have been illegal anyway due to the racism contained. Not sure who won out in the end legally speaking. Don’t think anyone really wanted to argue the case either way.
    So maybe the BBC could do that?

  9. I am an Asian British, and even though I want to agree with you Neil, I do believe like you and I have we in a democratic society all have the freedom of democracy and freedom of speech (some would argue that we don’t really have the freedom of speech here in the UK compared with the US, for there is no law that states we have freedom of speech and we still can get in trouble for ‘total free speech’. That’s beside the point).
    So denying one’s speech brings us back to a non-democratic, even a militant, totalitarian, and dictatorial society. I absolutely abhor the Socialists, but like Labour, Tories… parties they too have a right of speech here. So taking away that right goes completely against the fundamental beliefs we stand for. Yes, BNPs might cite racial hatred, they may cite prejudice against homosexuals and so on. I am not saying its right at all. Simply put they are all wrong. Moreover it goes against what we believe in as humans. But by denying their right we are denying them as citizens ok UK and who are we to judge. At the end of the day, they feel they believe in something like what the LibDems, Tories, and Labour believe in. We disagree with what the 3 major parties might offer. OK BNPs do have very radical views and they have very worrying views, but democracy allows them to stand for it. We can argue that its against the law for them to incite what they do. That is a different thing. Maybe the BBC should air their show and if it is against the law (by them making any serious racial hatred remarks, or other hate remarks), then make arrests and take them to court and prosecute them. That has been done before and it was successful.
    I am not a Muslim, and I hate what happened with the groups disturbing the Labour meetings that were seen on TV last night. That too is racial hatred in some form won’t you say ? That too is hatred again another because of either religion when they say that it’s unlawful to vote in the election because UK went to war against their brothers.
    ITW (quoted above) – “In agreement with dave above, surely if the bbc pulled the advert at such a late stage, it would only provide more free publicity for the BNP, more than would be gained by airing the ad, which is only likley to be watched by very few people anyway.” Absolutely right I think. Now why cause even more publicity ?
    So don’t take the ad away… let people see them for what they are (even though I doubt that they will voice all their radical views in it). Let people make up their minds. You can I came to our conclusions on who we are going to vote for by being informed. Let people be informed. Let people know that there is racial hatred and prejudice is prevalent today in this century !
    Voltaire once said : “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

  10. The vast majority of people are disgusted by the BNPs controvertial policies which is understandable, however people seem to forget that they put forward the views of thousands of the general public who vote for the them. Banning or restricting their opinion would be an immoral means of silencing them, afterall this is a country that promotes individual rights and freedonm of speech.
    The BNP attracts the vote of many types of people not just the “thugs” which give the party a bad name through there behavior however it is those who we see on our telivision screens. If you take time to read their manefesto they do not intend to harm or instrict hatred to ehtnic groups, instead they wish to simply cease future immigration. We must remember the BNP are not aiming to ‘water down’ their views to gain more votes, instead they over-exagerate party policies so as their voice may be listened to in politics. I have not voted for BNP howeer i feel politics involves taking everyones views into perspective not simply your own.