How’s it going? The election campaign itself? What about recent potentially game-changing events that are influencing and interfering with it? These things are almost overwhelming for Craig and I, bogged down with our pesky ‘other’ lives.
I’ve just had a Labour Party canvasser on the phone. On the bloody phone! She couldn’t be arsed to call round on foot to find out how I intend to vote. She asked the reason why I wouldn’t be voting Labour. I said, “give me a reason why I should”. She answered, “Foodbanks!” She assumed I'd be dumb enough to vote Labour because ‘foodbanks”.
However, it’s reassuring that several of the comments below articles and analyses I’ve read have covered much of the angles and conclusions that chime with mine. (What I would have blogged earlier if I wasn’t on the phone talking to a Labour activist.)
The most remarkable incident - for want of a better word - that has direct relevance to the BBC was the Andrew Marr interrupterview.
Even though, to ‘nerdy’ BBC watchers like us - don’t forget this is our very raison d'etre - it seemed that the only thing Marr’s on-air implosion gave us was a blatant example of bias and the most extreme display of incompetence we’ve seen in a long time.
Whichever side you’re on, I fail to see how anyone could think the outcome was the slightest bit productive, other than as a demonstration of ‘how not to do it”.
Nevertheless, the Boris-bashing, Corbynite public have come down on the side of Andrew Marr. If you can stomach it, take a peek at Zoe Williams’s piece in the Guardian. "Chuntering and untruths"
The comments underneath indicate that the most robust argument they can muster is that ‘Boris is a liar’. This immovable mindset merely underlines the futility of trying to reason with a Corbynist.
Elsewhere, people have pointed out that Marr was trying to emulate Andrew Neil. Of course, whether doing so was a conscious decision on his part or was instigated by his production team, it only served to highlight the inferiority of the interviewer and the incompetence of the back-room team. Own goal, in other words.
There were also numerous ‘below the line’ references to the statistical imbalance between the number of words uttered by interviewer and interviewee (a far superior model is, say, Peter Whittle of New Culture Forum who allows the interviewee plenty of space to develop an argument) as well as observations about inaccurate research, repetitive questioning and the interviewer’s remarkably cloth-eared inability to listen. Marr’s irritability, his embarrassing lack of self-awareness and finally, the flailing efforts to land the knockout blow that rebounded and floored him (and shamed the BBC) instead.
The other potentially derailing incident to the course of the election was, of course, the (second, most recent) London Bridge terrorist attack that killed Saskia Jones, 23 and Jack Merritt, 25. We are now permitted to use the term ‘terrorist’, since none of the victims of this Islamist-inspired murdering spree were, so far as I know, Israeli Jews.
Melanie Phillips has an article in yesterday’s Times (£), which for once, has received plaudits, almost without exception, below the line. I think that must be a first. Islamists are not the same as other prisoners. Doh!
“The terrorist attack by Usman Khan on a prisoner rehabilitation conference in London was made possible by two catastrophic and tragic misjudgments. The first was by the Court of Appeal, which changed Khan’s sentence. This had originally been detention for public protection with a minimum of eight years, after which he would have stayed in jail if the Parole Board considered him still dangerous.”
Melanie Phillips refers to Ian Acheson - here’s his article, also in The Times (£). I must say that I have indeed heard of Mr Acheson's views and the fact that they had fallen on deaf ears, so I hope you’ll bear with me while I include an extract of a piece (written by me many years ago) possibly for this site - I can’t seem to find out exactly where it ended up.
“Instead of doing its job - ‘educate inform and entertain’ - the BBC seems to be part of a tacit collusion between politicians, adolescents and journalists who are desperately trying to convince themselves that Muslim communities, Muslim leaders and individuals of all degrees of intensity are thoroughly virtuous and completely unrelated and unconnected to Islamic State, which is nothing to do with Islam.
They put out programmes that portray Muslims as ‘just like us’. Frequently they’re depicted as even better than us, because, while we’re inclined to be heathen, irreligious, self-serving and antisocial, Muslims are religious, selfless, inclusive and devout. The implication is always that Muslims are just like us, only more so, and better. Fictional plots in BBC dramas repeatedly feature Muslims as innocent victims of the white man’s prejudice and are wrongly suspected of a crime, which turns out to have been perpetrated by the bad white guy.
In fact, it has occurred to me that using immigrants as the perpetual red-herring as they do in Scandi-noir productions can almost be seen as 'racist' in itself.
“The fact that our prisons are stuffed to the gunwales with Muslims appears to be neither here nor there to the MSM. The fact that Muslim gangs of paedophiles and scammers are being prosecuted at a rate of knots seems to have passed them by. Our prisons are currently ruled by a Muslim mafia.
I have heard, first-hand, the harrowing testimony of a former prison chaplain who was harassed, bullied and eventually hounded out of his position by prison Imams. When he took his case to the then Home Secretary John Reid, he was sent packing with an unrepeatable two-word phrase that means ‘go away’. Why is this not being exposed as it should be?
Nothing has changed, which probably indicates that I’m banging my head against a brick wall.
Now that the latest terrorist incident (coupled with another case of criminal sexual exploitation) has wedged a metaphorical foot in the door, thus tentatively allowing more open discussion of a formerly taboo topic, I am left wondering why Tommy Robinson is at best unacknowledged, and in some cases demonised, by bona fide, more mainstream journalist critics of Islam - Rod Liddle, Brendan O’Neill, Melanie Phillips and Douglas Murray? Are they all, dare I say it - snobs?
To finish what has turned out to be another longer than intended contribution, I have to mention another delicate matter that has been covered to some extent in the online press - it’s the political intervention of Jack Merritt’s father, whose pleas not to ‘politicise’ his son’s death have acquired a hollow ring. The bereaved, who must be going through agonising pain, should be actively discouraged by the media from making such emotional appeals in haste. In this case, Mr Merritt’s own strong political views have adversely affected any generosity of spirit he might have intended in making those unfortunate statements and tweets. It’s a tough thing to say, but tragedy shouldn’t automatically confer special dispensation upon the bereaved to say the unsayable or make inappropriate demands, as Brendan Cox has done or as the parents of the 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn who was tragically killed, appear to be doing.
Contrast these examples, if you will, with the remarkable and unforgettable response of Gordon Wilson after his daughter Marie was killed by IRA terrorists in the Enniskillen Remembrance Day Bombing.
Gordon Wilson's devout Christian faith inspired his refusal to make demands of others. I don’t know if the media has taken undue advantage of Mr Merritt’s sentiments, but he cannot speak for anyone other than himself. Many people, as well as his beloved son, have been hurt and traumatised by this and numerous other Islam-related incidents.
Islamists are not like other prisoners, as Melanie Phillips so eloquently points out. Define “Islamists” though - where does a Muslim become an Islamist? At what point? Is it a matter of degree?
As for locking them up - yes, to keep them away from the public, but not in prisons as they stand. Prisons are already in chaos. Muslim gangs are allegedly in control and are violently intimidating all who come near them.
In any event, if there were to be a special confinement facility for Islamists - just think of the repercussions. Think of Guantanamo - think of H Block or whatever the dedicated IRA prison was called.
Think of the ‘re-education’ of Uighurs in China. Think of the Muslims of Myanmar. Whenever anyone tries to ‘suppress’ Islam, it turns it into a bloody great ‘cause’. People call it a recruiting sergeant. There has to be a more effective way of dealing with the situation.
I certainly don’t know the answer. Does anyone?