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A job description for a BNP-beating Conservative

WARSI SAYEEDA NEW 3pm: CCHQ confirm that Baroness Warsi will be the Conservative panellist next week.

11.30am: It appears that Sayeeda Warsi will be the Tory rep. at the New Statesman is delighted: "I had been full of despair upon hearing the news that Bonnie Greer would be on the panel, along with the boring, uninspiring, middle-aged, middle-class white duo, Jack Straw (from Labour) and Chris Huhne (from the Lib Dems), and wondered why the BBC bosses and the three main parties seemed so unconcerned about the lack of a British-born ethnic-minority panellist or a British Muslim panellist to face off against the racist, Islamophobic Griffin." Read his full post.


Unlike Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, I support the decision to give Nick Griffin (an elected MEP after all) a seat on BBCTV's Question Time although I share his anger at the inappropriate slot given to two senior BNP activists on Radio 1 last week.  Bonnie Greer will also be on the QT panel.

Labour has decided that Jack Straw will be its representative on what is likely to be a ratings-busting edition of the Thursday night programme.

Who should be the Tory on the panel?  It's a question that The Times asks this morning.  The Times' answer is William Hague.  Citing his performances at PMQs from 1997 until 2001 and his more recent successes on Have I Got News For You?, The Times concludes that he is simultaneously "a safe pair of hands, but he can also throw a punch."  I don't quarrel with The Times' assessments of William Hague's strengths but I don't think we should honour Mr Griffin with such a senior Conservative. I think Jon Cruddas MP would have been a better choice for Labour but he's probably too much of a loose cannon for the Brown leadership.

I'd rather set out three ideal characteristics of a BNP-beating Conservative (applicable not just to Question Time but generally):

  • He/she should have a clean record on expenses. Expenses-gate was a massive boost to the BNP.  As with Guido, every story on the BNP website about MPs is illustrated with troughing pigs.
  • They'll be a 'full spectrum Conservative'. The BNP thrive when the mainstream parties appear to be indifferent to immigration, don't appear to love their country and focus their politics on swing seats rather than those communities most under pressure. The BNP couldn't flourish in a Britain with a pro-poor, tough-on-immigration and patriotic Conservative government.
  • Don't gang up on the BNP. The BNP love to present themselves as if the world is against them. A BNP-beating Conservative won't be afraid to bash Labour for its failures on poverty, immigration, housing and the broken promise to hold a referendum on Lisbon (the EU Constitution in all but name).

Whoever is the Tory representative I hope they'll spend some time with my friend James Bethell.  James is the driving force behind and he has spent more time thinking about these extremists than almost any other person on the centre right.

Tim Montgomerie


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