Comment: Why does Nick Griffin think he can get away with it?

Writing for, Stephen Gray argues that BNP leader Nick Griffin’s recent homophobic online outbursts illustrates how the MEP is desperate for publicity, above anything else.

The decision by a Slough court to find for Michael Black and John Morgan in another case of anti-gay discrimination by a religious business owner should have come and gone without much controversy.

It was a straightforward case: a couple turned away from a bed and breakfast because they were gay. They drove the hundred miles home rather than spend the evening finding somewhere else to stay in Royal Berkshire.

B&B owner Mrs Wilkinson belongs to, in her words, an evangelical Christian church and her husband is a church leader. The court heard that she would give guests at the Swiss-themed B&B lifts to weddings and even nurse those who had fallen ill back to health.

In the judgement it all sounds lovely, as long as you can get a room and happen to be straight.

Sadly, the faith which compelled her to treat the heterosexual customers so well also compelled her to turf the gay ones out of a double room and back into their car in case they touched each other on her sheets.

And that our legal system forbids anti-gay discrimination by such NIMBaBs clearly rankles Nick Griffin.

The BNP leader had been on a business-as-usual week of tweeting indiscriminately offensive nuggets like: “Savile’s youngest victim 9 years old. So he wasn’t a paedo after all, as Mohammad consummated marriage when wife Aisha was that age.”

Or to another Twitter user: “How come you can write but clearly can’t read? Some special kind of retard.”

So when the news landed that a Berkshire court had upheld a point of law established by a more senior court in London, that ‘no gays’ policies are illegal, Mr Griffin MEP knew the country needed him.

Mr Griffin’s ability to uncouple himself from logical consistency and decency toward his fellow man means he can barrel happily and headlong into any controversy. It’s the only gun in his political arsenal and explains both his ability to reappear regularly in the headlines and his failure to gain popularity outside a very narrow tract of society.

So the spotlight swivelled onto him when he caught wind of the court’s decision and called for a protest at the men’s home and a “bit of drama by way of reminding you that an English couple’s home is their castle”, along with their address.

The BNP machine spluttered into action, praising Mr Griffin for standing up for Christians against this law by, it seems, endangering a gay couple.

Calling for a demonstration and ‘drama’ at an innocent couple’s home rather than at the court in Slough or at Westminster, is that really showing the establishment?

The tweet’s reference to drama, they tell us, was a result of Mr Griffin’s research into the pastimes of the gay couple in question and his discovery of their interest in amateur theatre. Anything threatening we see there is presumably just our interpretation.

At the weekend, I might often be found doing maintenance on my bike. If my legal rights annoy a far-right party leader and he encourages people to come to my home and demonstrate to give me a ‘bit of oiling’, I’m not sure my first reaction would be flattery at the interest in my personal life.

So there are really two issues here. Firstly, the potential threat to the couple in question, and secondly, why Mr Griffin thinks it is something an elected politician can get away with saying.

Happily for Mr Black and Mr Morgan, their home is fairly inaccessible. Speaking from another location with their home under police surveillance, they described any attempted demonstration at their home as likely to be a ‘damp squib’.

Had they lived in a terraced house in an accessible cul-de-sac, they may have felt very differently. It is reasonable to expect the next couple to earn Mr Griffin’s displeasure will live somewhere more exposed and be put in real danger.

Griffin has a problem with gays, that’s clear. The BNP’s vaunted ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy replaced the recriminalisation of homosexuality not long before the US military’s DADT rule slipped finally into the past. Mr Griffin is as free to think of me as ‘creepy’ as I am to think of him as a poorly turned out blancmange at the village fête of British politics.

The BNP talks a lot of being silenced and oppressed, often mistaking free publicity for free speech, but I wouldn’t argue against allowing Mr Griffin to air his opinion or against the BNP appearing on our ballot papers.

When I edited we gave his London mayoral candidate, Carlos Cortiglia, a platform on which to answer our readers’ questions ahead of the capital’s election this year. On Twitter and other media, Griffin himself has a platform on which he says things as blindingly ridiculous as that civil partnerships kill children.

The BNP are audible, they are visible; they just aren’t competent or popular.

This was the month in which the European Union, on whose legislative body Mr Griffin sits, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Can it really tolerate a politician who calls for uncontrolled protests at citizens’ homes when he disagrees with the law, for which he himself is partly responsible?

I was happy to see MEPs refer his incitement to protest to the European Parliament – Nick Griffin shouldn’t be silenced, but for the safety of our minorities should he still hold office?