Last night, I finally realised how much of a threat the BNP are. I went to a 60th birthday party in my village where I heard several friends, very sensible people in every other way, speak well of Mr Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP. I have never met Mr Griffin but he lives nearby and often parks his car near my office in Welshpool. Many people tell me that Mr Griffin and his family are personable and popular.
"What is going on" I ask myself. And the more I ask, the more worried I become. This small personal experience is part of the national debate that is taking off about multi-culturalism. Even in the deepest recesses of rural Mid Wales, where a black face or a muslim veil are rarely seen, there is growing disquiet about the non-integration of people who move into Britain from other cultures. All my life I have accepted the orthadoxy of multi-culturalism. But when I hear the debate, clamour even, that seems to be breaking out around my ears, I am forced to ask myself some hard questions. Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality started the debate in my head. Then Jack Straw went public in a seriously risky way. And Tony Blair made public statements this week that could well have seen him branded a 'racist' if he had made them two years ago. There is a lot of fertile ground for the seeds of poison to be sown.
The nasty Mr Griffin and some of his unsavoury henchmen that we have seen on our televisions is not too much of a problem. We can see what they are. But the nice Mr Griffin and his unfailingly polite acqaintancies who convey their 'messages' around rural Wales are highly bloody dangerous.