One fifth of the UK electorate would consider voting for the BNP in the wake of Nick Griffin’s Question Time appearance, according to a poll.
The YouGov poll, taken hours after the BBC show aired, indicates that 22% of people in this country would ‘seriously consider’ voting for the far-right party in an upcoming election.
The BNP’s leader’s invitation to join the Question Time panel was condemned by minsters and prompted chaotic anti-fascist protests outside the BBC’s studios on Thursday.
There were fears that Griffin would receive a boost in popularity among voters as a result of his appearance on the corporation’s flagship current affairs program.
In the poll for a British national newspaper the proportion of people who would vote BNP in an election tomorrow had risen to 3%, from 2% a month ago.
More than half of the 1,314 people polled said they agreed, or thought the party had a point, in ‘speaking up for the interests of indigenous, white British people’.
The poll indicates anti-BNP sentiment is strong among the majority of people with over two-thirds saying they would never vote for the party under any circumstances.
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain was one of the most vocal critics of the BBC’s decision saying they were handing the BNP a gift on a platter.
Comparisons were drawn with France’s Jean-Marie Le-Pen’s appearance on L’Heure de Vérité in 1984 which saw a surge in support for his ultra-right National Front party.
Responding to today’s survey Hain said: “This is exactly what I feared and warned about.”
The show, which attracted a record audience of eight million viewers, was largely devoted to Griffin’s extremist views and previous comments on the Holocaust, inter-racial marriage, white supremacy and homosexuality.
While the BNP claim it has boosted their membership by about 3,000, Griffin himself has lodged a complaint with the BBC saying the programme’s format was twisted against him.
The BBC defended their invitation for Griffin to sit alongside politicians from the three major parties, claiming they had to be politically impartial and reflect the BNP’s recent success in the European elections, which saw them gain two MEP seats.
The YouGov poll indicates that more than 75% of people supported the BBC’s decision, up from 63% questioned last week.