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