I’m pleased to report that this evening I will be joining the panel of the BBC’s Question Time as their @BBCExtraGuest. This means I’ll be responding to the questions, commenting on the show and debating/arguing/falling out with the Question Time audience on Twitter.
The show is being broadcast from Eastleigh, for obvious reasons, and the panel includes Jeremy Browne MP, Angela Eagle MP, Claire Perry MP, Neil Hamilton and Ken Loach so it should be a fairly provocative discussion.
If you’d like to follow my tweets and join in live, I’ll be tweeting from @BBCExtraGuest from about 10 minutes before the show starts. I hope you’ll join me there!
Ok, I’m coming out – I’m a fan of The Archers. Yes, the hurly burly of local scandal in rural Borsetshire conunes my Sunday mornings on a regular basis. To be honest, getting that off my chest makes me feel a while lot better.
One of the reasons I like it is that it’s a corner of the BBC which never makes me angry – unlike, say, Question Time which I’ve had to stop watching for the safety of my television screen.
But now it seems even The Archers is not a neutral zone. Last night’s episode had the characters discussing a local society dinner – which was a cue for a massive plug for John Humphrys’ lucrative after-dinner speaking service.
“Ooh, he’ll have a lot of interesting things to say,” one of them even waxed.
Isn’t against the BBC rules to advertise products or services? Or does that not count when giving a free editorial plug to one of their own staff?
One of the worst threats to the campaign against fascism and racism is the thuggish and totalitarian nature of the hard left activists who squat at its core. Where you should have a mass movement refuting the BNP’s absurd arguments in a public forum, you have a minority clique like Unite Against Fascism who repel the general public, campaign for censorship and – ironically – have political views on economics and state power that are remarkably close to the fascists they claim to oppose.
Take, for example, the case of Martin Smith (pictured right, and yes he really did dress like that on Newsnight).
Smith is heavily involved in UAF and is the organiser of Love Music Hate Racism.
On Tuesday, Smith was convicted of assaulting a police officer during protests outside the BBC against Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time. A Magistrates’ Court found that he had kicked a policeman who was there to make sure the protest didn’t turn violent. As the Ian Tomlinson case showed, some police officers certainly can be violent themselves but there have been no such allegations in this case – this was a thuggish protester lashing out with no good reason.
The remarkable thing is that instead of condemning such violence and thuggery, Smith’s colleagues have rallied round to suggest the courts are somehow biased in favour of neo-Nazis. Even Mark Serwotka at the PCS Union has suggested that conviction in a free and fair court of law will “provide encouragement for the abhorrent views of racist and fascist organisations” and represents “the unequal way in which anti-fascist campaigners and activists are treated in comparison with racist and fascist thugs.”
The simple fact is that the UAF and their mates are just as totalitarian and unpleasant as the BNP – Smith’s aim is to secure the censoring political parties that he doesn’t like. Brands like Love Music Hate Racism are designed to suggest the UAF are mainstream, ordinary people – but how ordinary is it to go around kicking coppers because of production decisions on Question Time?