A let-down

The Church of England - - LEADER & COMMENT -

Boo­ing and hissing at the ex­pres­sion of un­pop­u­lar and un­palat­able views is what the BBC’s Ques­tion Time has come to.

I’ve watched Ques­tion Time from the last days of Robin Day pre­sent­ing the pro­gramme. For the most part it is a use­ful pro­gramme for those of us who take our votes se­ri­ously in mak­ing de­ci­sions on which po­lit­i­cal party to sup­port. It was also a pro­gramme in which politi­cians were held to ac­count and forced to jus­tify them­selves to the pub­lic.

In re­cent years, it has be­come less use­ful. The dif­fer­ences among the po­lit­i­cal par­ties have largely shrunk to spin and pre­sen­ta­tional mat­ters. The ar­eas of gen­uine philo­soph­i­cal dis­agree­ment are now of­ten moral and cul­tural rather than po­lit­i­cal, and very dif­fi­cult to deal with.

Fur­ther­more, politi­cians, and opin­ion for­m­ers on the show, in­clud­ing co­me­di­ans, busi­ness people, celebri­ties and jour­nal­ists, are drawn from an in­cred­i­bly small, metropo­lit­i­cal world.

Last week’s Ques­tion Time vis­ited the very dif­fer­ent world of Bark­ing in Es­sex where it was clear that strong feel­ings were go­ing to be ex­pressed by people who felt an­gry and hurt by mass im­mi­gra­tion. Typ­i­cally, mem­bers of the panel and mem­bers of the au­di­ence booed and hissed the ex­pres­sion of un­pop­u­lar views on im­mi­gra­tion from those who felt swamped by the re­cent rate of mass mi­gra­tion es­pe­cially from other parts of Europe. The panel and the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect were armed with a re­port that they claimed backed their con­tention that mi­gra­tion has lit­tle or no im­pact on indige­nous em­ploy­ment. That is a false use of sta­tis­tics: the re­port in fact sug­gests, un­sur­pris­ingly, that mass mi­gra­tion has an im­pact on em­ploy­ment dur­ing re­ces­sions rather than pe­ri­ods of growth.

And it is also true that there are some com­mu­ni­ties, like Bark­ing, in which lo­cal people can tes­tify to huge changes as a re­sult of mi­gra­tion. Their con­cerns should not be dis­missed by politi­cians and they should never be booed or shouted down.

Politi­cians should never be

booed or shouted down

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