BBC Question Time: open thread

by Stephen Tall on June 5, 2008

Lib Dem deputy leader, shadow chancellor and all-round party star Vince Cable is one of the panellists on tonight’s Question Time (broadcast on BBC1 and online from 10.35 pm GMT).

In fact, dare I say it, it looks like really quite an interesting programme this week, as – alongside Vince – will be sitting the Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband, former Tory Foreign Secretary Lord Hurd, the director of Liberty (and LDV readers’ Liberal Voice of the Year 2007) Shami Chakrabarti and the right-of-Ghengis-Khan columnist Peter Hitchens.

If you want to sound-off as you watch, please feel free to use the comments thread.

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I predict an unholy alliance of Shami and Loony Hitchens against Miliband over 42 days.

The Tory guy will be weak, so it’ll be interesting to see if Vince fills the void.

by Leo Watkins on June 5, 2008 at 10:37 pm. Reply #

I didn’t know that Mugabe had a knighthood….

ouch, and neither it seems did Douglas Hurd…

by barcharter on June 5, 2008 at 10:48 pm. Reply #

Just spotted Colin Ross in the audience!

by Linda Jack on June 5, 2008 at 10:49 pm. Reply #

Shami is hitting the ball out of the park on the 42 days.

She is a national treasure

by barcharter on June 5, 2008 at 11:20 pm. Reply #

It is so ridiculous to say, as Shami just did, that we are undoing freedoms that go back to 1215. Nobody had any freedom at all in 1215, or soon after. It was not until the 20th century – when women obtained the vote, etc. – that we could in any sense call ourselves a free society.

by Laurence Boyce on June 5, 2008 at 11:23 pm. Reply #

Oi disagree. There are two different definitions of a “freedom” floating around here. No, there was little in the way of “freedom” in 1215 in the way we would understand the term as liberals. What there was, as a result of Magna Carta, was the right to a fair trial by one’s peers, and some limits on custody.

by Alix Mortimer on June 5, 2008 at 11:39 pm. Reply #

Laurence, you might want to compare what “freedom” Magna Carta gave British people over, say, France of the same date.

You could just as well argue that Britain wasnt a democracy until 1928.

by Mark Wright on June 5, 2008 at 11:43 pm. Reply #

Oh *do* let’s get into a discussion about the Magna Carta! 😀

by Alix Mortimer on June 5, 2008 at 11:48 pm. Reply #

Vince was his usual impressive self, Shami was also on top form and Hurd was OK, except on the Zimbabwe question. David Milliband did enough to show that if he’s the best alternative Labour’s got to Brown, then the party is very deeply screwed.
What really worried me was the extent to which I found myself agreeing with Peter Hitchens.

by Bernard Salmon on June 6, 2008 at 12:27 am. Reply #

What there was, as a result of Magna Carta, was the right to a fair trial by one’s peers, and some limits on custody.

So how come Henry VIII was still chopping off head more or less at will 300 years later? Did Anne Boleyn get a fair trial? It’s all bollocks isn’t it?

by Laurence Boyce on June 6, 2008 at 12:30 am. Reply #

Because he was a throwback absolutist monarch, as any fule kno!

http://fabulousblueporcupine.wordpress.com/2008/03/04/henry-viii-was-more-of-a-statist-control-freak-than-nulabour-discuss/

by Alix Mortimer on June 6, 2008 at 1:04 am. Reply #

Wouldn’t you say, Laruence, we become a democracy, for chaps at least, in 1886?

by Joe Otten on June 6, 2008 at 2:23 am. Reply #

Now this takes me back to my own undergraduate days, writing my dissertation on the English Civil War. I must admit that nothing before the 17th century means little to me, but from about the 1620s onwards we can find recognisable liberals. I always instinctively took sides in history 🙂

by asquith on June 6, 2008 at 6:29 am. Reply #

Ignore the, erm, “original” construction of the second sentence. I should have said “nothing means much”.

I found the Immortal Seven especially agreeable 🙂

by asquith on June 6, 2008 at 6:30 am. Reply #

Slightly off topic, but I’ve always wondered about the phrase ‘right wing of Ghengis Khan’. Does anyone have any actual evidence for Ghengis Khan’s position on the left-right economic spectrum?

by Perennially Bored on June 6, 2008 at 1:05 pm. Reply #

No, it’s a bit of a silly phrase in general. Hitchens, as reactionary as he is, has admirable views on civil liberties and the invasion of Iraq.

Such language, in my humble opinion, should not be used as it’s misleading.

by asquith on June 6, 2008 at 1:35 pm. Reply #

Good question from the audience as to what, very specificly, he would do different from Brown.

His answer – Labour should seek to “weather the storm” of the economy, by unspecified means and … well that was the most specific bit.

Somewhat unjustified rudeness towards Hitchens from Stephen here. Hitchens was against illegal war both against Iraq & Yugoslavia which puts him at more than 50% to the left of the LibDems who, after all, support illegal war when it is for the purpose of carrying out genocide.

by Neil Craig on June 6, 2008 at 2:47 pm. Reply #

I had always assumed that Neil Craig was banging on about Israel/Palestine like most people who talk like that. But apparently not. Good job I didn’t bother guessing which side he was on.

by Anon on June 6, 2008 at 3:10 pm. Reply #

“Hitchens was against illegal war both against Iraq & Yugoslavia which puts him at more than 50% to the left of the LibDems who, after all, support illegal war when it is for the purpose of carrying out genocide.”

The NATO action against Serbia was clearly illegal, but it is difficult to see how its purpose was to carry out genocide.

by Sesenco on June 6, 2008 at 4:02 pm. Reply #

The war was fought to assist the KLA. The KLA, but not Milosevic, were engaged in genocide.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told Parliament 2 months before we went to war that the majority of deaths were of Serb civilians killed by the KLA so it is impossible for any single MP to deny they knew of this.

That being the case it is impossible to see how the purpose was not to carry out genocide.

One can argue, with difficulty, that they had not been informed that the KLA were also going to kidnap thousands of schoolgirls to sell to western brothels or dissect at least hundreds of Serb teens to sell their organs to our hospitals. On the other hand no LibDem MP ever tried to stop them.

On second thoughts perhaps it is possible to be far to the right of Genghiz Khan yet far to the left of the genocidal Lib Dems?

by Neil Craig on June 6, 2008 at 4:35 pm. Reply #

Neil Craig,

If my memory serves me right the purpose of the NATO action was to weaken the Milosevic government and facilitate those forces who would allow US big business to buy up the few profitable bits of the Serbian economy.

If you can substantiate what you have said about the KLA with hard facts, then please do.

I think it likely that Blair was told by the Americans not to complain about the assassination of Jill Dando by the Serbian secret service because they wished to cuddle up to the Serbian opposition and didn’t want them offended over the mere slaying of a TV personality on the streets of London.

by Sesenco on June 6, 2008 at 4:46 pm. Reply #

That wasn’t what Ashdown said the purpose was.

What I said has been repeatedly proved & is widely available online. Which bit are you specificly denying?

And may I see your substantiation with hard facts that the Yugoslav secret service decided that the best way they could damage NATO would be by killing Dando? The problem with conspiracy theories is that we get overwhelmed with ones that make no sense – but then that may be the purpose 😉

by Neil Craig on June 6, 2008 at 5:13 pm. Reply #

“The problem with conspiracy theories is that we get overwhelmed with ones that make no sense…”

True, Mr Craig. Oh so true.

by Paul Griffiths on June 6, 2008 at 8:56 pm. Reply #

Neil Craig,

Nowhere have I said that the Serbian Secret Service killed Jill Dando to damage NATO. You are putting words in my mouth.

Dando was killed by a gun that fired a single bullet and was concealed inside a mobile phone. A Serbian secret serviceman was caught with such a device in Austria the previous year. Dando was killed by professional assassins who left no trace of themselves at the crime scene.

Now, Mr Craig, let’s have some evidence that NATO attacked Serbia to facilitate genocide. Give us a link or two. The mere assertion that everyone knows what the evidence is won’t do.

By the way. I’m not denying anything. Read my words.

For someone who sneers at “conspiracy theories” you are remarkably paranoid.

by Sesenco on June 6, 2008 at 10:39 pm. Reply #

Back to the main point of this thread, I actually thought that this was one of the best QTs in a very long time.

The depth of the pit into which Labour has been cast also became very clear – when Shami, Vince, Douglas Hurd AND Hitchens are against you, you must be doing some pretty fundamentally bad things!

by john on June 7, 2008 at 12:24 am. Reply #

On 18th Jan 1999 Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told Parliament, as I said, that “On its part, the Kosovo Liberation Army has committed more breaches of the ceasefire, and until this weekend was responsible for more deaths than the security forces”
trust you will accept Hansard as not being part of my conspiracy theory.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/cgi-bin/newhtml_hl?DB=semukparl&STEMMER=en&WORDS=cook%20kosovo&ALL=cook%20kosovo&ANY=&PHRASE=&CATEGORIES=&SIMPLE=&SPEAKER=&COLOUR=red&STYLE=s&ANCHOR=90118-06_spmin0&URL=/pa/cm199899/cmhansrd/vo990118/debtext/90118-06.htm

Since the Yugoslav forces were so very much better disciplined & armed & the vast majority of bystanders were Albanian it is quite clear that this could not have happened if the NATO armed & trained KLA were not deliberately targeting civilians on a racial basis (ie genocide) & the Yugoslavs most assuredly weren’t. Since he told Parliament & subsequent investigation has proven he much underestimated our KLA hireling’s culpability it is a matter of verified fact that every MP, including every LibDem MP knew that the war was being fought not to prevent but to assist in genocide.

IE that every MP who supported that criminal war was & is guilty not merely of war crimes but of genocide.

Now exactly what proof do YOU have that “Dando was killed by a gun that fired a single bullet and was concealed inside a mobile phone” since it wasn’t recovered & wasn’t witnessed?

by Neil Craig on June 7, 2008 at 11:34 am. Reply #

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