Not content, it seems, with the avalanche of criticism following all those appearances on its programmes of former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, or indeed the interviewing of Front Nationale leader Marine le Pen on The Andy Marr Show™, the BBC has welcomed yet another scion of the fascist right, with the appearance last night of Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of Germany’s AfD, on Newsnight.
The Alternative für Deutschland, to give it its full title, is part of the European far right. It is happy to work with groups like Pegida. It has links to the Identitarian movement - that’s the hip new word for European neo-Nazism. It contains elements of Islamophobia, outright racism, xenophobia and, yes, anti-Semitism. It is opposed to same-sex marriage. It is an anti-feminist party. It practices climate change denialism.
You'll have to speak up, I'm a bit mutt and jeff
And that’s before we get to Ms von Storch, a granddaughter of Hitler’s finance minister, Lutz von Krosigk. The subject of that Newsnight discussion was Germany’s asylum policy, so her stance on that is highly relevant. Some asylum seekers are most definitely not welcome where the AfD is concerned: “Islam does not belong to Germany. We are in favour of religious freedom of course, but Islam is claiming political power, and this is what we deny”. That’s what Ms von Storch said. On Newsnight (she’s been on before).
Plus, as the Guardian pointed out recently, “von Storch has been a member of Farage’s group in the European parliament since being expelled from the more mainstream European Conservatives and Reformists Group in April , following comments in which she called on European border guards to use firearms to deter illegal immigrants, including women and children. She later described the comments as a ‘tactical mistake’”.
It should therefore have come as no surprise to the Beeb to see responses like “That's Beatrix von Storch, granddaughter of Hitler's finance minister and leader of Germany's extreme right? #Newsnight keeping it classy as it continues to mainstream the most toxic, fascistic elements in world politics”. And there was more.
Jon Worth also registered his dismay. “I cannot comprehend the @BBCNewsnight editorial decision. ‘Oh there’s a government crisis in Germany. Let’s cover!’ ‘Who shall we have on?’ ‘Oh how about the deputy leader of the populist right party who wanted to shoot refugees at the border?’ ‘Yeah, sure!’”. It’s not as if there were no alternatives.
Aaron Burnett spelled out the choices the BBC could have made. “The following MdBs either studied at EN-speaking institutions, or I have personally seen them speak English without notes or translation: .@RKiesewetter (CDU & on Foreign Affairs Comm.) - Norbert Röttgen (CDU, FA Comm Chair) - .@fbrantner (Green, former MEP) … - .@katarinabarley (SPD, has both German & British nationality) - Ursula von der Leyen (CDU, Defense Minister) - Ruprecht Polenz (CDU MdB until 2013 & former Chair of FA Comm.) (This list isn’t exhaustive, there’s more).” Plus there was a further reminder for the Beeb.
Ian Slater, also German based, told “Here in Germany, the tv networks do not give such platforms to far-right extremists from neighbouring countries. Surely the #BBC can’t be so stupid as to keep doing this accidentally (Stone, Coulter, Bannon etc etc), giving an platform via soft interviews”. Bad move from the BBC. And it’s not the first one.