Nick Griffin and me: Question Time at the tea shop

Hateful Nick Griffin

Hateful Nick Griffin

Very recently, BNP leader Nick Griffin strolled into Metrodeco, quite the thing.

He nodded at some of our regulars, leaned nonchalantly back into his armchair and ordered a smoked salmon sandwich and a Chrysler Breakfast Tea (“White, please love. Not black, definitely not black…”).

He could have been any other customer. His unfashionable Hitleresque barnet was, perhaps, a little unusual in this voguish part of Brighton – but he was, well, normal. In fact, despite recent publicity, I didn’t even recognise him until he unfolded a copy of the Daily Mail.

Sound far fetched? Of course it is – and of course Griffin wasn’t in the tea shop. Apart from the fact he lives hundreds of miles away in a rural backwater near the Welsh border, he and his storm-troopers are openly homophobic and therefore hardly likely to be lunching in the city’s Kemp Town area, one of the most-established gay villages on the planet.

Or are they?

I recently discovered that you can now search the internet for local (supposed) BNP members. An increasingly infamous site allows you to punch in your postcode and within seconds the names of dozens of alleged members within the vicinity – and their postcodes – appear before your eyes. I punched in the postcode for Metrodeco Tea Salon, expecting a blank page…perhaps the odd Mosley nearby, three Himlers and a couple of Mussolinis.

But no! 30 names appeared and they weren’t obvious goose-stepping fascists. I won’t reprint them here because I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the list. Suffice to say, they were names like Smith and Robson. The type of names the dental nurse calls out as you’re waiting for your few remaining teeth to be amputated. Everyday names, seemingly everyday people.

Six of them were so close to the shop it would have been an effort for them to avoid us if they wanted a tea or coffee on a Sunday morning. They’d have had to goose-step around our outside tables and chairs. Come to think of it, I’ve probably served one of them.

The fascist-finder website got me to thinking, what would I actually do if I knew one of these head-bangers was in the shop – ask them to leave? Wait for them to go about their business of their own accord and hope they don’t return? Challenge them to justify their odious beliefs in the hope I could appeal to the reasonable, tolerant person within? Or let them be, acknowledging that – in a free society – people are allowed to believe, even say, what they want, so long as they keep within the law?

I honestly don’t know the answer but maybe it’s something we small Brighton businesses should all be pondering, now that we know their number are (supposedly) among us.

I guess it’s a similar question to that facing the BBC in relation to Griffin’s appearance on Question Time.

Should we give the BNP and its rapt supporters a platform? Should we take them on intellectually and show their creed for the unsupportable tripe it is?

Though the BNP is currently wracked by internal wrangling and financial turmoil, any decent showing on Question Time would galvanise its supporters, give the party UK-wide credence as an electable force and set in motion worrying momentum heading into the General Election in just seven months. Or, as they put it: “If we are successful it will send shockwaves through the media and the establishment and will really propel the BNP into the political premier league.”

So maybe we deny them that debate on the basis that it gives an insignificant – albeit creepy – section of the community a disproportionate amount of attention? That’s what our own Argus used to do – until Unite Against Fascism told them it was better to ‘expose’ them as extremists. Afterall, there is little support for the party in Brighton. In Kemp Town, Griffin has markedly less significance than the fisheries spokesman of the Moroccan nationalist party.

They don’t have a branch (an attempt to open one in Hove was recently seen off by locals). They don’t have any councillors. And they don’t seem to have a presence – but for how long?

Someone far cleverer than me probably has the answers to these problems.

But for now, I’ll settle on this action: if I ever actually do see Griffin strolling carelessly into Metrodeco carrying his Daily Mail – I’ll immediately impose a lifelong ban. And I’ll tell Griffin he’s not welcome either.

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13 responses to “Nick Griffin and me: Question Time at the tea shop

  1. Spot on. This a real danger and in Kemp Town of all places we should take the BNP threat seriously. I think the BBC are right to show us the real Nick Griffin and what a jerk he is.

    Gemma.

    P.S. I live in Brighton and I’ve been in your shop – your cakes are gorgeous.

  2. “The type of names the dental nurse calls out as you’re waiting for your few remaining teeth to be amputated. Everyday names, seemingly everyday people.”.

    I think you’ve gone a bit OTT here. I doubt all BNP voters are hitler worshipping jew haters. They are most likely jus disalusioned with ‘the oher choices’ offered by the current government and the toreis.

  3. mike (above) makes a valid point. To categorise all the BNP’s support as Nazis is unhelpful. One suspects most of them are just ignorant but well-meaning voters who haven’t learnt lessons from history and think they are voting for democracy. That is why televised debate is important.
    (How many of the BNP’s more mainstream supporters realise that when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, the Nazis were the biggest DEMOCRATICALLY elected party in the Reichstag?) But I digress…
    The BNP like to create the illusion they are on the rise when in fact their share of the electorate has not increased by a single vote. The fact that they managed to get two MEPs elected should be a source of shame for all those people in those constituencies who didn’t vote, not a victory for the few, admittedly disillusioned, numbskulls who think the BNP is a valid alternative which genuinely supports democracy.

  4. That’s about as helpful a response as me saying I’ll ban all the gays from entering my coffee shop coz they’re all odious paedophiles.

    The people seem to think that the solution to the problem of a prejudice is to be prejudiced back. It never works.

    Someone I admire very much seemed to have the best approach – though it cost him dearly. He said, Love your enemies, show kindness to those who persecute you.

    Now that really would make the world a better place.

    In the meantime, you keep banning people from your coffee shop and he’ll keep banning people from our country.

  5. Thanks for stopping by at my blog. Give Griffin a ‘brownie’ before you send him on his way.

  6. You may slap a lifetime ban Mr Griffin and his ilk, but you must not therefore complain if others place a lifetime ban on PeterTatchell & his ilk from their coffee shops.

    Beating prejudice with another prejudice accomplishes nothing but simply doubles the number of prejudices!

    Someone once advocated loving your enemies and doing good to those who persecute you. That’s a much harder path to walk.

    Forced repatronage, whether from countries or coffee shops, is not the solution

  7. Brighton? That place where a few years back a bloke was beaten up by the public simply because he held up a placard expressing disapproval of homosexuality? That same tolerant Brighton? You should come to Alum Rock in Birmingham, and open a branch there. You could do a roaring trade in hydrogen peroxide and weedkiller, as well as coffee. Do you have a lot of Muslim customers?

  8. Frederick Roots

    The problem here is that we live in a democracy. The BNP should be defeated by argument, not seen off by mobs of locals (a move you appear to approve of). This is the problem with what some people call ‘the angry left’; they talk a lot about democracy, but are prepared to shout down, ban and see off anyone they don’t agree with. Griffin’s appearance on the BBC achieved two things: First, his blatantly hostile treatment and the way he was shouted don continually created a wave of sympathy and the BNP received 3000 offers of donations. Secondly, when he was allowed to open his mouth and say a few sentences, he showed himself to be a nutcase, blathering on about British aborigines.

    The greatest blame for the BNP’s rise can not be laid before the BBC though. That lies with the Labour Party who have allowed a world changing flow of unchecked immigration into this country. Brighton may still seem like England; Leeds, Bolton, Bradord and many other places do not. No sane person objects to a British Pakistani or Indian, but people do object to masses of non-English speaking, burka clad people, sullenly looking at normally dressed white women, or people walking the dog, because we traditionally minded British are transgressing THEIR cultural values by showing our hair or liking a pooch. Maybe Brighton doesn’t have such areas, in which case, maybe you are lucky.

    The left as well as the right has its share of undemocratic nutters. Thank God we also can rely on the common sense of the British to reject both extremes.

    • catherine pearson

      What do you mean by ‘blithering on about British aborigines”. Are you saying that there are no aboriginal peoples of these islands? Or perhaps that the rights of indigenous British people are less valuable than those of, say, Maoris, or Zulus?

      At the 1945 VE Celebrations, if you had questioned the existence of a British race, you would have been howled down, just as if you’d entered a Brighton tea shop and called everyone in there ‘a bunch of poofs’.

      Just because indigenous Britons now number less than 50% of the population in London (and certainly in Shepherds Bush TV studios) doesn’t mean we don’t exist you know.

      • Frederick Roots

        What I mean is that he is historically illiterate.

        If Griffin had focussed on the cultural incompatibility of many immigrants (meaning that they exhibit values and ways which are anti-democratic, misogynistic and quite horrifying the the average Briton, he would have gained huge support. However, what he and his rubbish party focus on is race and colour. This is utterly not the problem. Nobody in this country with any sense dislikes a man for his colour. Large numbers of black lads are fighting for this country in Afghanistan. If a Pakistani loves Britain, speaks English like I do, brings up his kids with an appreciation of British values, I have no problem with him. If he wears eastern clothes, associates only with other pyjama clad jokers with long beards and keeps his wife like a donkey tied up in the house – he is culturally incompatible with British values and should not be here. I know one or two Pakistani lad who are straight forward British lads. I have no problem with them. Griffin and his oiks do.

  9. Thanks for stopping by my blog.
    Since you read my post you know that I believe that in a democracy everyone should be allowed to speak. As someone who fundamentally disagrees with Nick Griffin, I am hoping against hope that someone will take him on and debate him, refraining from calling him names or telling him his views are disgusding, even though they are. Attacks like this achieve nothing. He doesn’t care, they don’t affect his ratings or stem the steady flow of support towards him.
    Question time just proved that much.

    Although I share your desire to ban him from your coffee shop – I wouldn’t want him around either – I think we need to take him more seriously and debate him on the issues. Otherwise all we are doing is preaching to the choir – each other – nodding emphatically as we each take turns calling Griffin names while substantial chunks of the population are voting for him. Some of them may be racist homophobes and some may just feel like nobody else is dealing with things that scare them so they go for the BNP who at least aknowledge the issues – whatever those may be. Until the mainstream deals with those questions, until they are addressed in an even-handed, realistic manner, we will never know the true extent of the BNP’s support and that, for me, is the most worrying thing at the moment.

  10. Nice SEO friendly blog post there.

    “Sound far fetched? Of course it is” *facepalm*

  11. I love the British National Party. They are the only hope for Britain. Hopefully they will get successful in the next election.

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