What a show – it was horrible. The panel was more balanced on last night’s Question Time than it used to be, and the fur flew. Before the end, I had to turn off – it was too painful. The main issue this week was Extinction Rebellion: for the panel included Rupert Read of that distinguished band of vandals.
On the panel, presided over loosely by Fiona Bruce, were Grant Shapps, speaking for the Conservatives but increasingly acting as the only voice of reason that evening; Lisa Nandy of Labour, who became increasingly detached from any semblance of reality as the evening wore on; Rupert Read of Extinction Rebellion, of whom more later but who made even Lisa Nandy look reasonable; Theo Paphitis as the voice of the frustrated rest-of-us; and Julia Hartley-Brewer, the rent-a-mouth whose sole virtue is being able to expose hypocrisy by being rude to everyone else.
We kicked off with the environment, climate change, and the actions of Extinction Rebellion, and voices rose to fever pitch such that you might imagine the rise in global temperature was solely caused by the Question Time panel. There is no logic in debate anymore. No one on the panel was arguing for climate change being a fantasy or unimportant. No one was arguing against its being hastened by mankind, so you would have thought all would be sweetness and light. It was the very opposite.
Maybe it would have been easier if they could just have said to Read that he is a nutcase and taking such complete nonsense it is only a surprise that he does not laugh at himself, but instead this was in form a civil debate, and as a result it turned into a shouting match.
It takes a lot for me to be on Julia Hartley-Brewer’s side, but she made the unchallengeable point (which Grant Shapps missed) that the Industrial Revolution was the greatest and most beneficial thing ever to happen to mankind. It is a pity that the point could not be taken further, to analyse the anti-industrial rhetoric of Extinction Rebellion, to compare their (unscientific) protest that millions, or even billions, will be killed by climate change with the utter certainty that millions would die of disease and starvation were the Industrial Revolution to be reversed anywhere in the world. Again Hartley-Brewer nailed it with her characteristically undiplomatic approach, that Extinction Rebellion is a “quasi-religious death cult”.
Rupert Read believes himself, which is worrying. He said that he wants the government to start by’ telling the truth’, but every statement he made was wrong, and he must have known it. When Grant Shapps demonstrated that Britain has cut carbon dioxide emissions mare than any other country, Read said the figures were fiddled (they are not); he made wild claims on what ‘the science’ says which bore no relation to any scientific papers; he said that no one was talking about acting on climate change until the Extinction Rebellion began – somehow ignoring decades of work and public concern on the subject, begun incidentally by Margaret Thatcher. ‘XR’ must have a point, he said, because they are invited onto QT: well so was Nick Griffin of the BNP, mate. His knock-down proof of the rightness of Extinction Rebellion was that a sixteen year-old, traumatised autistic girl supports them. He even compared himself to the suffragettes and Martin Luther King. There is delusion there of the highest order.
Even so, Read was cheered from the audience, which he took as validation. The audience may indeed care about the future of the environment – don’t we all – but does not mean accepting every contradictory madness proposed by his cult. After that I was not convinced by Julia Harley-Brewer’s description: there is nothing ‘quasi’ about their religion.
We were also introduced to Lisa Nandy, a Labour Party star – she has been tipped for leadership. Please put her on television more – she discredits herself and her party wonderfully. She castigated Hartley-Brewer on the environmental issue (don’t feed the troll, Lisa) saying that environmental catastrophe would harm the value of pension funds – but somehow omitted to say how sudden deindustrialisation, or Corbyn, would not.
It was a relief to get off climate change, and the climate in the studio could cool. Of course the next topic was Brexit, for some light relief.
On Brexit, out came Lisa Nandy, coming into her own. She accused Boris Johnson of junking a deal with the EU: she insisted that there was a deal agreed but somehow it had never been allowed to go before parliament. Well, the rest of the country know perfectly well that there was a deal, for we have memories going back more than five minutes, and that it was put before the Commons three times and each time Nandy and her colleagues voted against it. Challenged on this by Grant Shapps, she claimed there was another deal agreed by all parties (presumably known only unto her and not to the government nor the EU) which was not put. This was fantasy. Just repeating the same untruth again and again makes enough people believe it to vote, but it is horrid to watch except in morbid fascination.
At that point, Rupert Read came back in with his one good point of the evening: Brexit, deal or no deal, is not the end which will allow us to get back to normal politics: from that point the Government must start negotiating more trade deals with the EU, so it goes on. It sounded a bit odd after he had just been castigating all and sundry for using ships, aircraft and lorries – surely he would want a complete, self-sufficient autarky to keep those environmentally harmful ships in port?
With no sign of reality breaking out from anyone but Theo Paphitis and Grant Shapps, I finally gave up.
- The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity by Douglas Murray
- 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, by Jordan B Peterson
- Woke: A Guide to Social Justice by Titania McGrath
- By Boris Johnson:
- The Victorians: Twelve Titans who Forged Britain by Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Political Correctness Gone Mad?, by Jordan B. Peterson, Stephen Fry, Michael Eric Dyson and Michelle Goldberg
- Revisiting the European Union as Empire Hartmut Behr, Dr. Yannis A. Stivachtis, Ioannis A. Stivachtis (eds)
- A History of the English-Speaking Peoples by Sir Winston Churchill:
- A History of the English Speaking Peoples Since 1900 by Andrew Roberts
- By Margaret Thatcher:
- Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, by Charles Moore:
- Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality by Jonathan Aitken
- Margaret Thatcher in Her Own Words (CD-Audio, ed. Ian Dale)