I am not opposed to airing the full range of political beliefs extant in the UK, and in principle, not opposed to the EDL being given an opportunity to respond to wide-spread allegations of their connection to Anders Breivik, but these kinds of issues must be handled carefully, something the BBC completely failed to do last night.
To start with, the opening package repeatedly expressed surprise that the attacks in Norway were not the work of Islamic extremists – as though far-right-wing terrorism was still an unheard-of phenomenon, but then Jeremy Paxman completely lost control of the interview. Lennon was effectively given ten minutes to spout his own theories about the attack, blaming Muslims and immigration for provoking the attack and ending with a threat that similar would happen in the UK if things didn’t change. Paxman only responded to that some moments later, with a weak and ineffectual “is that a threat”?
Aside from Paxman’s incompetence as an interviewer in this instance, which would be grounds for dismissal for someone not considered a luminary of the BBC (and you should re-examine his luminescence in the light of this interview), there is the issue of having someone from the EDL on unopposed, with no countervailing voice, no analysis, no context. The final effect gives the appearance that the BBC in some way condones the EDL’s position, which is unacceptable.
The BBC should apologise for this fiasco, and issue a statement doing so. It should also consider some form of redress, some attempt to correct the extremely skewed position which was given last night.
The complaint was submitted here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/
The interview can be seen here, for a limited time: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b012twgz/Newsnight_25_07_2011/