BBC Question Time – LDV open thread, 22 October 2009 #bbcqt

It’s Thursday, it’s 10.35 pm … it’s BBC1’s Question Time.

It is, of course, the most highly anticipated Question Time ever with a colossal media storm surrounding the invitation of BNP leader Nick Griffin. The evening news says that there are massive protests outside BBC TV Centre, with twitter reports that staff are almost under siege. Across the country, protests are happening at regional BBC offices.

For the Liberal Democrats, it’s leadership contender and Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne taking up cudgels for the yellow corner. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi will be in the blue corner, and Lord Chancellor Jack Straw in the red. The celebrity non-political punter will be Bonnie Greer. Stephen reported earlier on with Griffin’s response to his co-panellists – and handy links to what other Lib Dem bloggers are thinking about the approaching debate.

If you’re tuning in, you can join the simultanous online Twitter debate here at #bbcqt, or the LDV debate in the thread below. Meanwhile Lib Dem blogger Mark Thompson will be liveblogging events via CoverItLive at his own blog.

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This entry was posted in Lib Dem TV.


  • Grammar Police 22nd Oct '09 - 10:12pm

    @ “and Shadow Foreign Secretary Chris Huhne”


  • Cllr Patrick Smith 22nd Oct '09 - 11:49pm

    Nick Griffin should have been subjected to a EU Human Riights Court legal challenge as he was the leader of the BNP on June 4th in the EU Election in the UK that allowed him office when he forbade open membership and only recruited white Caucasians to his Party.

    Nick Griffin`s election to the European Parliament was a transgression of a body of human rights and equality laws passed in the UK and in the EU since 1948 and we still await the formal legal challenge..

    I do not blame the BBC for handing Nick Griffin an invitation in this vacuum of inaction but still await the force of international law to converge at his door.

  • Herbert Brown 23rd Oct '09 - 12:06am

    What a lot of comment this has attracted!

  • Straw was absolutely awful – couldnt answer any question. Chris Huhne came out pretty well and at least tackled the immigration issue head on. As for the programme, it was a bit of a shambles with Dimbleby not imposing any sort of authority – he managed the impossible of giving Griffin the sympathy vote.

  • Wrigglesworth 23rd Oct '09 - 3:39am

    I’m very concerned indeed about what has happened. I think the small minority who may support the BNP will have viewed what happened on the show as everyone – presenter, panellists, audience – ganging up on Griffin. It may have increased his support amongst that small strata of opinion. Of course most people thought he came across as utterly ridiculous, but they would never contemplate voting BNP anyway.

  • David Blake 23rd Oct '09 - 8:31am

    I think Wrigglesworth is right. There will be a possibly short-term rise in BNP support simply because whether we like it or not, his views as he expressed them on the programme are in line with many members of the public. It’s a pity that the programme focused so much on the BNP. Chris Huhne did quite well – better than I expected. Jack Straw tended to waffle. Bonnie Greer was very good – direct, straightforward and able to flatten Griffin, who came across as very evasive.

  • I thought the Tory woman came over well. She criticised Jack Straw about the Government’s immigration policy. I was hoping that chris Huhn would get in a mention of the recent LibDem success in Bedford, but he did manage to tell teh audience about our success in defeating the BNP in Burnley. Strong Community politics will beat the BNP every time.

  • good to see griffin exposed as a paranoid, racist, homphobic, holocaust denying lunatic. i assumed he would try to be more acceptable, but some of his statements were unbelievable. a victory for freedom of speech!

    however it is very worrying to see that huhne was singularly incapable of giving any kind of liberal line on the quesion of immigration. it’s sad when we can’t tackle the myths around that issue head on. it’s a debate that needs to happen, and we seem to be repeatedly incapable of having it, instead leaving it to anti-immigration conservatives, and a labour party who have been pretty disgraceful over the last decade (blunkett “swamping schools”, almost anything said by liam byrne). being an immigrant is not a crime, and frankly if i were a neutral who cared about the freedom to make a better life for myself away from persecution or poverty i would not have been encouraged by any politician on that panel last night.

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Oct '09 - 10:22am


    however it is very worrying to see that huhne was singularly incapable of giving any kind of liberal line on the question of immigration. it’s sad when we can’t tackle the myths around that issue head on. it’s a debate that needs to happen, and we seem to be repeatedly incapable of having it

    There are some uncomfortable things to say about immigration which don’t fall into the easy line “it’s all 100% good, anyone who disagrees is a fascist”. The big issue is that the benefits of immigration tend to fall mainly at the top end of society in terms of wealth, the disbenefits mainly at the bottom end. For example, rather than pay taxes to get British people decently educated, the big bosses would rather import foreign labour educated at others’ expenses, grateful to work at minimum wage levels, or of not strictly legal at less than minimum wage levels and any complaints and you get sent back home. At times it is almost like the situation Brecht put “The people have lost the confidence of the government; the government has decided to dissolve the people, and to appoint another one”. As I have said elsewhere I don’t think there’s much point in making a distinction between the elected government and the unelected and more powerful one of big business leaders.

    I put this point as one side in order to counter the standard line put by the liberal great and good in their big houses which they leave to their children in their wills without thinking that “racist”. It may be that the reason the debate is not had is the opposite you suppose. I myself, having represented a white working class council estate ward and successfully fought off the BNP there, have some inkling of the anger that leads people to consider a BNP vote, and the incapacity of the political establishment to respond to it in a way that is not condescending and gives those at the bottom of society who can’t play the race card some notion that someone actually cares for them.

  • matthew, fwiw i represent one of the most deprived estates in the south east outside of london, so i do understand the anger some people feel.

    but part your argument seems to rest on illegal immigration. the minimum wage should apply to all employees, which deals with that problem. by relying on immigration policy that is so restrictive that people who are determined to come and are capable of contributing come illegally we drive this process of undercutting.

    the other part of your argument, ie rising inequality, is a direct result of market fundamentalism. in this case economic migration, and the use of migrants to undercut the market for jobs, is a sympthom of an economic and political system that doesn’t give a damn about the poor, no matter where they are from.

    no doubt that last comment will attract plenty of ire from people who believe the free market cures all ills, but personally it think it’s a fair point.

    generally my point is not that immigration causes no problems, but that the benefits do significantly outweigh the drawbacks from the point of view of the host country, and that people do have rights that we, as liberals, do have a moral duty to stand up for when they are under attack.

  • I agree with others’ comments about the need to accept that there are valid immigration issues that need to be acknowledged / addressed and that help explain a significant part of the recent rise in BNP votes. Chris Huhne was right to point out that the Labour Government made a mammoth underestimate regarding recent legal migration from eastern Europe (c. 50K people predicted against c.750K people actual). However, he failed to follow up with the fact that the Government failed to adequately support / fund local bodies (e.g. councils) who had to address the associated problems in schooling, housing, health, transport, etc. Many of these problems left existing local people feeling that they had been pushed down the priority list by new immigrants flooding into their areas.

    Also the lack of departure passport controls for people who have entered the UK on visitor visas and various forms of illegal immigration (including false aslyum claims) feed the genuine concerns about immigration generally. Hence it is not enough to just attack the BNP on their apparently racist immigration views but rather Liberals need to counter with positive immigration proposals that truly address the valid concerns of many non-racist voters.

  • Tom Papworth 23rd Oct '09 - 1:57pm

    “the benefits of immigration tend to fall mainly at the top end of society in terms of wealth, the disbenefits mainly at the bottom end”

    That is not true. On the one hand, immigration creates jobs, which benefits the unemployed. Secondly, immigration keeps costs down, which keeps prices down, which helps those on low incomes.

    And just because it seems like we’re all doing so today, may I be the third member of this discussion to point out that I represent one of the most deprives wards (inside) London and have a lot of white, working-class council estates.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Oct '09 - 11:11pm

    It is not difficult to see that it is the poorer parts of the country, particularly in London, where immigration has had the most drastic effects on people’s way of life. It’s the poor people who have had to deal the most with accommodating new immigrants and competing for resources. One can hardly fail to notice that there are many estates in London where the nature of the populace has changed drastically in a few decades. At the wealthier end, life goes on much as it did before, but high immigration means things like nice intelligent nannies willing to work for very little.

    I’m not saying there aren’t good effects of immigration, but to dismiss totally the stress caused to those who themselves find life difficult having also to accommodate to being the front-line of becoming a multi-cultural society is a typical liberal priggish attitude. We’re so keen to be goody two-shoes who would never have a racist thought in our heads, that we shut out of thinking anything that might disturb our simplistic ideals.

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