Posts Tagged Question Time

Spot the contradiction…

Spot the contradiction...

Having spent the best part of a fortnight obsessing over the damp squib that was the Nick Griffin special edition of Question Time, it appears the fellows at the Guardian are now having to get back to the same old whine-fests…

Today comes the revelation that the police (boo! hiss!) have taken to photographing members of protest crowds, with frequently-snapped individuals making what have been called “spotter cards“. The Guardian journalists’ opinion is no doubt skewed by the fact that police documents have made use of the term “domestic extremists” – when of course all of those who attend such protests are peace-loving, law-abiding members of the community. Righty-o.

The truth is that when you take a cross-section of protestors – no matter who or what they may be happening to protest for or against – there will be a higher number of hardcore activists and potential troublemakers than if you took a similar sample of people who would prefer to stay at home instead. Protestors are out there because they want to be heard, and it should be a given that among their number would be some who want to be heard in any circumstance. This is basic common sense, and it in no way implies that all protestors are potential troublemakers.

Police insist they are just monitoring the minority who could damage property or commit aggravated trespass, causing significant disruption to lawful businesses. Activists respond by claiming this is an excuse that gives police the licence to carry out widespread surveillance of whole organisations that are a legitimate part of the democratic process.

The statement from the police sounds fair enough to me – if you are not a troublemaker, your face is hardly going to make one of these spotter cards anyway – there are only so many sheets of card that can be handed around at any one time, and it is highly unlikely that every police officer on duty would be carrying around an encyclopedia of mugshots with them.

Of course, this is something only worth moaning about if you happen to sympathise with the groups being spied on; the police are no doubt watching BNP marches up and down the country with perhaps even a greater level of scrutiny, and I’d wager that these same journalists would have no problem with that – in spite of the fact that the BNP is of course itself a “legitimate part of the democratic process”.

They also warn that the categorisation carries echoes of the cold war, when the security services monitored constitutional campaigns such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Anti-Apartheid Movement because alleged subversives or communists were said to be active within them, although they said the organisations themselves were not subversive.

Again, the same basic principle can be applied to the BNP and its membership; while quite clearly there are some dangerous individuals who need to be watched, the organisation itself has not been classified as subversive. It is a fact that both CND and the Anti-Apartheid movement were crawling with communists and various other pro-Soviet ne’er do wells, in much the same way as the BNP has among its membership a number of David Copeland wannabes. It is the duty of the state to keep an open eye out for extremists of every hue, and if certain freedoms are to be compromised then so be it.

Of course, people could choose not to have their photograph taken by the police by simply staying at home instead of causing traffic jams and generally wasting everybody’s time – but that would be silly, wouldn’t it?

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And so…

And so...

Erm, right.

For all the pre-event media furore and brouhaha, it was all really a damp squib. Old Nick came out looking like a bit of a tit, but then so did Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw whose attempts to wriggle out of answering a question on immigration was positively cringeworthy – as was his description of Griffin as “the Doctor Strangelove of British politics”. I wonder which hack provided him with that one.

Griffin was predictably served up with quotes from his suspect political CV, and little was asked about the policies of the BNP that are for some reason or another so popular at the moment with some sections of society – which was very convenient for Mr Straw who blubbed and spluttered through the whole show. You could tell he really didn’t want to be there.

Also inconspicuous by his presence was the ineffective Liberal Democrat leader Chris Huhne – to the point I really did wonder why he was actually there.

Of the other panellists, Conservative peer and shadow cabinet minister Sayeeda Warsi put up a fairly decent showing, with her most impressive moments coming not when she was berating the hapless Mr Griffin but turning the heat up on the rather uncomfortable Straw over Labour’s policy on immigration and asylum. Best by far though was American playwright and critic Bonnie Greer, who despite sitting next to Griffin retained her sense of humour and steered clear of what was as the show wore on an increasingly soft target. Her lightly veiled sarcasm and at times patronising tone even made the dour BNP chairman crack a smile.

“I’ve brought some books for you to read, Nick.” lol.

In all it was a wonderful picture of politics in this country – an evening full of soundbites, with Griffin being characteristically evasive and the mainstream politicians trying to out-trump each other in terms of how right-on they were in lambasting him. That non-politician Greer was the best of the panellists on what is ostensibly a current affairs and politics show was telling – in a sense, it sums up precisely why so many people in this country have turned towards the likes of the BNP for answers.

After all, they sure as hell aren’t getting any answers from anywhere else.

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Questions, questions…

Questions, questions...

I guess some of you sad folks who read this little blog are waiting for some extensive feedback on last night’s edition of Question Time – dubbed the “Nick Griffin Special”… Sorry, not yet.

I had a little bit of work to do yesterday evening, and after our usual late dinner Caroline and I settled down to watch the final of Masterchef: The Professionals Read the rest of this entry »

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Hain the pain

Hain the pain

Sometimes I wonder why some people just cannot shut up and crawl back into their little holes. Nope, on this occasion I am not talking about BNP leader Nick Griffin, but Welsh Secretary and serial meddler Peter Hain. Read the rest of this entry »

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Unite Against Foolishness

Unite Against Foolishness

Yet again the British National Party make their way into the news when they should have been left to trot along, but those who have only served to make their case stronger seem intent on magnifying what is, in truth, a minor issue. Read the rest of this entry »

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