Ian Burrell edits the Media Weekly pages of The Independent.
In the new edition of the left-leaning New Statesman James Macintyre claims that the BBC is wrong to give BNP leader Nick Griffin a platform on Question Time. "My objection," he says, "is that QuestionTime - unlike Newsnight or Today, where presenters could give Griffin a grilling on immigration - would provide a soft format for him to pontificate on a variety of issues of the day. It is hard not to have a 'good' Question Time."
Macintyre writes as a former BBC producer and claims that the corporation's decision to invite Griffin onto the programme is not simply a result of the BNP's relatively-strong showing at the Euro elections, but something that has been under consideration for over two years.
Last week I had a beer with the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson and we talked about the BNP. Robinson described the party's rise as "a legitimate story" and one that he is anxious to cover. He would have reported on the BNP launch for the European Elections but was called away to another assignment.
"They're a legitimate party who some people vote for, who others loathe and despise and think are dangerous, whose ideas must be fully tested and can't be censored," is Robinson's view. I think he's right.
He also warns of overstating the BNP's popularity. "I don't think they're a big part of the general election. The recent elections were on a system of proportional representation which made them more of a factor but rather less than some people thought they would be." I hope he's also right on the BNP struggling under the first-past-the-post system.
The likes of Robinson and John Humphrys should get their chance to put Griffin through the mangle. In the meantime we must trust the vastly-experienced David Dimbleby (for whom Robinson was once a producer), along with the members of the public who make up the Question Time audience, to pull away the mask of the BNP leader who few would deny is an increasingly effective media performer.