Appearing on the Big Debate talking about ISIS, alcohol at football matches and decriminalising drugs

Yesterday, I went to Paisley in Renfrewshire to be part of the panel for Radio Scotland’s Big Debate which is the Scottish equivalent of Any Questions.

Also on the panel were shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander, local SNP MSP George Adam and Peter Murray from the Media Trust.

I did try to persuade presenter Gordon Brewer that he should “accidentally” call Douglas Danny in homage to Jo Joyner who made an error with someone’s name in the EastEnders live episode the other night but he was having none of it.

It was a much more thoughtful and less combative discussion than usual. George Adam did try to do the “let’s blame Westminster” thing that SNP people are prone to do but that was about it. We talked about ISIS and whether we could negotiate with them. I said that I didn’t think that would be on the agenda any time soon but whatever we did should be carefully thought out with very clear objectives. I talked a bit about the article from the Guardian the other day which told of the horrible conditions under which women are supposed to live. I also emphasised that we need to be very careful not to fuel Islamophobia given that ISIS are about as representative of Islam as the Westboro Baptist Church are of Christianity.

We also discussed the reintroduction of alcohol at football matches, which has been Labour’s Jim Murphy’s Big Idea this week. It’s something that will appeal to middle aged men. There is obviously no connection between that idea and the fact that that’s the demographic that has shifted from Labour to the SNP in massive numbers. I get into trouble every time I talk about football and I expect this time will be no different if you listen to what I said.

There was a question about decriminalisation of drugs which I supported and said that we should not be putting drug addicts through the criminal justice system but have better health care support to tackle addiction. I said that politicians needed to stop being so scared of the Daily Mail and get on with decriminalisation because, let’s face it, the way we fight the harm done to communities by drug use at the moment just isn’t working.

There was a big crowd of schoolchildren in the audience. They asked several questions and made some fantastic contributions from the floor. Some of them even agreed with me and told me so afterwards which was nice to hear.

There was a question about the future of one of our major power stations at Longannet in Fife. I might have been one of the only panelists to pronounce its name properly but my answer was pretty rubbish – probably as a result of going last and everything sensible already having been said on the issue.

If you have a spare hour, you can listen to the whole thing here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Eddie Sammon 21st Feb '15 - 6:35pm

    When it comes to debating ISIS and foreign policy in general I think it would be useful to have some anonymous debates. I also think more security for politicians would be useful. I am not talking about the surveillance kind, we just need to look out for people taking a brave stand and commenting on extremely sensitive topics.

    Good work in standing against Islamophobia too. I think sometimes we need to checkoursleves for what I call an “ignorance bias” when it comes to this topic. I would like a discussion about terrorism where we are not allowed to mention claimed Islamic terrorism. I think it would be good to broaden our knowledge and to stop associating Islam with terrorism, as the American right seems to be doing quite heavily at the moment.

  • I have been broadening my knowledge of Islam and the more I read the more I fear. How can we tolerate the segregation and discrimination against women?

  • Little Jackie Paper 21st Feb '15 - 9:54pm

    ‘It’s something that will appeal to middle aged men.’

    And the problem with that is what exactly?

  • Philip Thomas 21st Feb '15 - 10:04pm

    Nothing, Caron is just pointing out there’s a political motivation behind the proposal.

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