THE BBC has been attacked for broadcasting an interview with France’s Front National leader Marie Le Pen on Remembrance Sunday, the day when most of the nation stops to commemorate the fallen and injured in the conflicts of the last 100 years.
Labour MP Angela Rayner suggested the Sunday morning Andrew Marr Show should have interviewed veterans who had fought the Fascists instead.
The opposite perspective is equally, if not more, valid: that highlighting the potential threat from the political right by challenging one of their highest-profile leaders could not have come on a more appropriate day.
Differentiating between what can be considered the “legitimate” right – or left – of the political spectrum and extremist can be exceedingly difficult and nuanced.
Challenging all political beliefs and approaches is essential to the democratic process – so an electorate can be better informed and better able to choose between candidates standing for any office.
A “no platform” approach allows views, however acceptable or unacceptable from any perspective, to go unchallenged.
The scrutiny should be equitable with no one, however unpalatable their views, escaping the process.
When the majority in the legislature is so great that it overwhelms existing checks and balances, the scope for abuse is – by nature of the circumstances – limitless.
That happened in one European country in the 1930s. The majority went on to enact “enabling legislation” that turned that nation into a one-party state and, when the head of state died, the head of government assumed both roles.
Defeating the regime which emerged from that required a global conflict that lasted six years and cost millions of lives.
Government must be based on then principle of distrust, however good the incumbents of any particular offices may appear to be at any particular time.
Challenging the conflation of popularism with xenophobia may genuinely be most apt on a day when the consequences of extremism and the sacrifice necessary to overcome it are at the front of so many minds.
Introducing the interview, which was recorded the previous Thursday, Mr Marr said he understood the concerns, but added: “Le Pen could under some circumstances become the next French president in the spring. This week in the immediate aftermath of the Trump victory, she has declared that the whole world has changed and that her brand of politics is on the march.
“What does that mean? In the end we are a news programme and I don’t think that the best way to honour the fallen is to fail to report on the next big challenge to western security.”