Tweetminster measured 12.49 #bbcqt tweets per second by the end of the programme, a phenomenal volume hailed by many as a beacon of popular desire to confront a repugnant political contingent. But underneath it all, there were tones of a more sinister element to what was happening.
Both on the programme and via social media, people were using the security of the self-affirming mob to indulge their righteousness.
Comments like “accidentally” calling him “Dick” Griffin reek of a smug “us vs them” attitude and are drawn from the same seedy roots of human weakness that inspire the BNP’s xenophobic tendencies. For examples, see just about any situation in history where humans are in a large crowd inspired by a passionate agenda.
In the case of the wider political picture, this has become manifest in the BNP’s provocative and simplistic extremism. Rather than attempt to manage the sophisticated intricacies of a modern society, they tempt the little prehistoric whisper in the human psyche that difference is dangerous.
Meanwhile, if there’s one thing an electorate can agree on, it’s responsibility; those we elect via this democracy must be accountable for their actions. While traditional political parties point to one another, the BNP offers a new scapegoat better suited to our psychological predispositions. Apparent impotence in the status quo further adds to the temptation.
By ganging up on Griffin and revelling in a back-slapping round of norm-affirming “spot the racist”, an opportunity was nearly spoiled to damn him with his own flimsy policy. Luckily however, he rose to the challenge admirably with denials (sometimes of denials) and nonsense that could overwhelm any element of the human mind.