Question Time 23rd January 2020
Theresa Villiers (Conservative)
Emily Thornberry (Labour)
Trevor Phillips (Broadcaster)
Mike Barton (Former Chief Constable)
Sarah Baxter (Sunday Times)
Venue: Stoke Newington
Dear reader, had this week’s Question Time been from Cold War Czechoslovakia, sun-baked Sind, the iron ore mines of the high Arctic, or even Dodge City then your humble reviewer could have opened with a light-hearted anecdote from his own lived experience. Likewise, had it been in the diamond fields of the Northern Cape, the pedigree ranches of Victoria or even Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, I could have stolen one from close family members. It has been known to happen. But Stoke Newington remains a bit of a mystery. On examination, it turns out to next to Hackney and is in the constituency of that dear friend of the internet and all things social media, Diane Abbott MP. Are the BBC Question Time team hiding behind a ‘Red Wall’ of Remain lefties? Yes. Every Question Time since early December, including this one, has been in a Remain-voting area without a Conservative MP. As usual, the BBC has chosen a host constituency which in no way reflects modern Britain.
As for myself, taking out the magnifying glass and addressing the map, I can confirm that I’ve never been to, or even through, Stoke Newington. ‘What about those trips to Cambridge?’, I hear you say. It was cheaper to use a Travel Card, change at Tottenham Hale and then pay the excess fare. The same (black) woman used to write out the ticket in the corridor every time. ‘What are you going to do with all of these twenty-seven pences you save?’, she used to ask.
Much comment has been made of last week’s episode, regarding the planting in the audience of a Mz Rachael Boyle, a paid BBC Breakfast contributor. With all the worldly-wise gravitas of the race and ethnicity professional that she is, Mz Boyle was scripted to deliver an unpleasant trope suggesting that all white people, no matter what their circumstances, are privileged purely because of their race. She was rightly challenged by Laurence Fox who pointed out her racism. Likewise, much merriment has been had from the revelation that Mz Boyle is a researcher at Edge Hill ‘University’. Prior to being a university, Edge Hill was a teacher training college. On the 29th November 1940, one hundred and sixty-six privileged British people, many of them women and children, were killed when the original college buildings were bombed by the Germans in an atrocity that Churchill described as being one of the greatest losses of the war. We remember them.
The first questioner asked, as a mother of a fourteen-year boy mugged locally a number of times, what are the panel going to do about it?
Trevor Phillips (broadcaster) informed us that he was born two minutes from the venue and even gave us the postcode. Is this a gang threat? Three die every week from knife crime in multicultural, vibrant, diverse London, he reminded us. Many more are stabbed who don’t die. Bravely, he informed us that it’s young black men dying and doing the killing and we should focus on those communities. Some of these young men have come recently to this country straight from war zones. Perhaps surprisingly, he didn’t suggest allowing fewer of them to come here. There aren’t enough police to sort it out, we would need North Korea levels of policing. He preferred an education and youth services-based solution.
Mike Barton (former chief constable of Durham with four consecutive ‘Outstandings’), commiserated with the questioner and then blamed himself and the police for locking up drug dealers. When he jails them, their patches are taken over by even more violent criminals. He blamed himself for youngsters on county lines, as they were chosen by the drugs gangs as being too young to be police double agents. Having blamed himself he then blamed us, saying that he’d made the mistake of doing what the public asked.
We are not going to arrest our way out of this. The solution was ‘youth clubs’, ‘upstream’ and an end to local authority cuts. He omitted to mention legalising drugs, which is what he has suggested elsewhere in the past. He also omitted to mention his decades as a police officer on the Lancashire force, where the ‘grooming’ (Muslim paedophile rape) of many thousands of British girls was ignored by the police.
Theresa Villiers (Conservative), noted that all these stabbings were intolerable and something must be done. Thirty thousand more police, more stop and search powers and there was a £700 million fund to stop this kind of thing. Just replacing previous cuts, noted Bruce.
An audience member blamed the abolition of youth services and said that self-esteem, confidence and self-worth come from outside of the home from those said youth services. This humble reviewer begs to disagree. Character forming takes place in the home, in the family, from mum, and here’s a word not mentioned on tonight’s programme, ‘Dad’. Another contributor from the audience stated that there was too much cocaine in circulation. London was the cocaine capital of Europe. He suggested it be de-criminalised so that there would be less of it. Really? No, me neither.
United Nations Assistant Secretary General’s daughter, Lieutenant Colonel (temporary) The Right Honourable and Learned Lady Emily Ann Nugee QC MP (Labour) decided that her three-million-pound house in Islington entitled her to claim that she lived in the ‘inner city’. She pointed to a lack of community policing and related that her own children had been mugged and had had their bicycles stolen. By a big lad with a shaved head, shouting ‘Eng-er-land’, as he peddled off towards a white van? She didn’t say. As a local MP, she goes around to victim’s houses and gives them a piece of paper. That’ll teach the gangs.
London needs more police and more youth services, she said, they’d suffered a 70% cut. Repeating a theme, she continued that they provide a role model outside of the family. Repeating another theme, might I suggest, your ladyship, a role model inside in the family? You could call him ‘Dad’? Or ‘Sir Christopher’, in your own inner-city home, M’Lady.
Sarah Baxter (journalist) lived nearby too. There was a need for more police, more visible police, she said. Even if they just sit there, night after night, disrupting the gangs simply by being present. Mike Barton came back in, ‘adverse childhood experiences’, give them a pretend police uniform, social inclusion, social & civic values. Common Purpose bingo? Housey, housey.
Back to Trevor, three will die before next week’s programme. He had two practical suggestions. Stop glorifying violent culture and violent music which disrespects women. But, but, but, the BBC has to patronise that kind of thing Trevor, to keep down with the youth. Poor Stormzy, his career’s just been mugged by postcode Trevor. Phillips’s other suggestion that there should be more ‘intermediate professionals’ in public spaces. By that he meant janitors and park keepers, presumably in Kevlar taking the incoming while Trevor, Lady Emily, Sarah and Theresa tip-toe between each other’s Islington mansions.
The second question: is a prospective new trade agreement with the US under jeopardy because of a proposed digital services tax?
Theresa Villiers said it was important for big corporations to pay their taxes. Bruce noted a US tariff on cars, threatened as retaliation, and noted an existing tariff on whiskey. Villiers seemed unconcerned, ‘Fare share of taxes, [the multinationals are] competing with the high street and small businesses.’
Lady Emily agreed with Villiers and thought that the big multinationals were taking the mick. She sited Starbucks, which aren’t a digital services company, Milady, and won’t be affected by this tax. Never mind, we know what she means. She would prefer to point the trade deal effort towards the EU.
An audience member said the trade deal would be hit by climate denial. Oh. We didn’t know that. The Donald is very transactional, came a claim from the audience, how do we know the NHS won’t be sacrificed?
Sarah Baxter, half American herself, suggested standing up to The Donald and that even the hardest of Brexiteers wouldn’t want to lay down before the US, after not doing so to the EU. Tough talk and goodwill was how Sarah saw these things being resolved. ‘People compromise’, she reminded us. Trevor Phillips thought the tariffs on whiskey were a ‘get on with it’ from The Donald to encourage a trade deal. He then denoted a difference between men and women (interestingly to an absence of gasps from the BBC audience), men have to be stood up to from time to time and we should stand up to The Donald.
Fifty percent of all crime is now online (Rude on twitter? Hurty feelings on Facebook?), said Mike Barton, that’s why you don’t see officers on the street. The corporations who facilitate this don’t pay any tax. And they don’t co-operate with Mike. It had taken him nine months of legal wrangling to get the details of a graffiti artist, boasting on social media.
The final question asked, do Londoners live in a political bubble and should Labour stop listening to them?
Lady Emily told us that Labour listens to all communities but they were tripped up at the election by Brexit. She would have preferred a referendum commitment and one simple message. Perhaps ‘Don’t get Brexit Done’ might have won Corbyn the election? In future, she would rather concentrate on ‘looking after you’, as at the moment the safety net has big holes in it. Food banks. Bingo.
An audience member started by saying, ‘Me as a black woman’. I’ll cut to the quick, ‘Windrush’. Bingo. Another contributor blamed Labour’s woes on the Sun and Rupert Murdoch as that had had an effect on northerners, brainwashing them no less.
Sarah Baxter (Murdoch’s Sunday Times journalist) said that this was rubbish and a pathetic excuse for use for Labour’s worst election result since 1935. Labour does have an existential crisis and could lose even more seats as they don’t seem to be listening to Londoners either.
Mike Burton reminded us that parts of London are deprived too and he agreed with the (Windrush) lady in Tangerine. The bedroom tax in Durham had led to empty houses. He called it a ‘fine’, rather than less in benefits, and omitted to mention that it gave bigger families (ones with a dad?) a better chance of a bigger home.
Teresa Villiers (Francis Holland School, Jesus College Oxford, corporate law, the Tory party, a seat in Chipping Barnet) doesn’t live in a political bubble and neither do Londoners. Labour needed to deal with anti-Semitism and racism.
Trevor Phillips began by apologising, on behalf of all of da postcode, for the ‘brainwashed northerners’ remark. He noted a problem with the Labour ‘followership’ who still think Corbyn the best ever Labour leader, ignoring the Labour Prime Ministers, Atlee, Wilson and Blair (who employed Trevor). Trevor accidentally ignored former Labour PM, James Callaghan.
Lady Emily stood up for Corbyn, reminding us that he spoke from the heart and brought lots more people into the Labour Party. That’ll be the anti-Semites, IRA men and Communists, Emily.
One more quick question, should politicians be subjected to lie detector tests?
Yes, Theresa Villiers wanted one herself. Shall we put her down as a ‘would’? Mike had been using them since 2014 on registered sex offenders, about 8% of whom fail them and go back to jail. Mike seemed to assume that the tests are always accurate. How about that other 92%? How many of them re-offend?
Trevor marked himself down as a relativist, saying that there isn’t a truth that can be discovered, just different opinions. Trevor was more bothered by the thought that Donald Trump actually means everything that he says.
Sarah Baxter noted a problem of politicians believing their own BS, weather it was true or not. Lady Emily wanted to wave the simple sword of truth every week, across the dispatch box, at Boris Johnson. Now you know who to vote for, Labour members.
And that was it.
© Always Worth Saying 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file