Any suggestions for ‘Any Questions’?

11 January 2013

I’m doing Radio 4’s ‘Any Questions?’ tonight with Harriet Harman and Simon Hughes.

It’s a strange news week, in which almost anything could come up.  But I wondered if Spectator readers had any ideas, points or questions they think should be put to my fellow guests?

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  • Matt Pryor

    Any chance you could ask Simon Hughes what his thoughts are on David Ward’s comments about “the Jews”?

  • Jones Jack

    Try not to bash Muslims

    • DazEng

      Make sure you do, if deserved!


    This is a comment I have posted elsewhere but I think worth addressing directly to Douglas Murray here, and to which I would also ask whether the views of the likes of Harman and the very existence of something called the Paedophile Information Exchange, with Harman’s old colleague Patricia Hewitt at the helm, contributed to an atmosphere of acceptability of paedophile assaults rather in the same way that the Left for several decades now have given an air of acceptability to drug taking even though it’s also against the law.

    A very weak performance from Douglas Murray. Harman’s answer on the Savile Affair which naturally included the “lessons must be learned” refrain was a gift for anyone who wished to expose the damage of that vile mix of relativism and hypocrisy used without embarrassment by the Left. Why didn’t he ask Harman when her views changed from those expressed (something like, a sexual relationship between an adult and a child can be beautiful and fulfilling) when she was part of the National Council for Civil Liberties, to those she expressed last night? Why didn’t he ask, if paedophilia is so condemned by her, why are the Left always pushing for the age of consent to be lowered, why do they allow without sanction of any sort under-age girls to be given free contraception and abortions without parental knowledge, and why are children from the age of five being taught about every perverted form of sexual relationship known and told it’s all normal?
    Is there nobody on the Right prepared to throw all this back in the faces of the likes of Harman?

  • Youbian

    So all the audience were pro Europe even though most of the country aren’t. How do the BBC find them?

  • FrankS

    What does that picture have to do with it? The text with it says: “The Conservative Party Hold Their Annual Party Conference – Day 2″

  • Neuxyz

    I would like to know whether or not these politicians can bring themselves to say the word ‘England’ without invoking the prefixes ‘Bank of…’ or ‘Church of…’ and whether they can do so without referring to sport.

  • edlancey

    Steer clear of the Gents if Simon Hughes is in there. Or perhaps not…

    • DazEng


  • John Lea

    Ask Harman why she sends her children to a private school, if the state model she wishes to press on everyone else is so great.

    • David Lindsay

      You could ask that of any Tory as well.

      • John Lea

        You miss the point. She is a Labour MP. Labour would have us believe that state education is as good as private education; in fact, to say anything to the contrary is a sign of snobbery and elitism. They made (and still try to make) a great deal of the fact that Cameron and Osborne are ‘posh boys’ who went to Eton, and therefore must be out of touch with ordinary people. And then, of course, the likes of Harman send their own kids to private school. It’s hypocrisy.

        • David Lindsay

          Again, you could say that to and about any Tory. Is this your first proper memory of a Tory Government? I suspect so.

          • John Lea

            Are you really that stupid that you don’t see the hypocrisy in a Labour MP sending her own children to private school? Also, we have a coalition government, you idiot, not a Tory one.

            • David Lindsay

              There is no hypocrisy, any more than on the part of any Conservative Minister in the past or the present.

              There has never been a Labour Party policy to abolish them. Never. Harold Wilson used them as a parent while he was Prime Minister, and no one thought it remotely odd.

              Tony Blair was the first Prime Minister, ever, to send his children to state schools. He was hardly the first ever Labour Prime Minister, or the most left-wing, or best-loved within the Labour Party.

              You are living in some Daily Telegraph or Daily Mail fantasy world.

              • Christian

                You clearly need to acquaint yourself with a dictionary to look up the word hypocrisy.

                • David Lindsay

                  No, you need to do something your historical and political illiteracy. If you are capable of doing so, that is.

                  Private schools are largely staffed by quiet but hardcore Labour voters. They were in general at least broadly Tory-minded when they were appointed. But even a very brief period of having to deal with the likes of you changed them utterly and irrevocably.

  • Wessex Man

    Ask why Simon Hughes changed his mind on an English Parliament.

    • David Lindsay

      Hughes has this evening informed the Any Questions audience that his party had never been in favour of joining the euro at the given time rather than merely in principle, and that “We are a lot better off with our own currency, thank you very much.” But then, he abstained on Maastricht, while Sir Nick Harvey, as he now is, went so far as to vote against it.

      I am not convinced that most Lib Dems are all that pro-EU at all. I have a strong suspicion that they are more like the characters in Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. One by one, each of the members of an anarchist cell turns out to be an undercover policeman.

      Vicious campaigners though they undeniably are, there really are Lib Dems,
      doubtless clear majorities of their members and voters, and probably even of their MPs and Peers, who believe profoundly in the election of pretty much everything that exercises any sort of power.

      In absolute openness and freedom of information. In the highest possible degree of
      decentralisation and localism. In the heritage of uncompromising opposition to political extremism everywhere from Moscow to Pretoria abroad, and from the Communist Party to the Monday Club at home.

      In (unlike me) the tradition of anti-protectionism against everyone from nineteenth-century agricultural Tories to 1970s industrial trade unionists. In the rural Radicalism that has always stood against the pouring of lucre into the pockets of the landlords. And in the interests of the arc of Lib Dem fishing seats from Cornwall via North Norfolk, Berwick, and North East Fife, to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

      Mild to strong Eurosceptics, including a goodly number of the latter, probably keep quiet within the Lib Dems because they assume that they are a tiny minority. But I bet that they are not. In fact, I bet that they are not really a minority at all. And now, they have to make legislative and executive decisions.

      Ed Davey is in the Cabinet, while the similarly non-Eurofanatical David Heath and Norman Lamb are on the cusp of it, with Alistair Carmichael as the party’s Chief and the Government’s Deputy Chief Whip. Heath, as Deputy Leader of the House,
      also has an important role in progressing business.

      The Party President, Tim Farron, is very much of the same mind as Simon Hughes, on this as on most other things. David Laws belongs in the same prison as anyone who had stolen that much in Housing Benefit. But the fact remains that he is not.

  • PaulinusMinimus

    Ask why Harriet was part of an organisation that had the Paedophile Information Exchange as an affiliate at just the time Jimmy Savile was at the height of his molesting activities.

    • David Lindsay

      Four hundred and fifty?

      And not one of them ever said a word until he was dead and buried? Not a single, solitary one? Over 50 years? About a man who for most of those years was one of the most famous people in the country? For dirt on whom the tabloid press would have paid any amount of money that the informant might have cared to demand?

      Ah, there’s the rub.

      Sir Jimmy Savile’s estate ought to be distributed forthwith, in undeviating accordance with his last will and testament. All claims still standing after that will be deserving of further consideration and investigation, with no pecuniary motive. Those, and none other.

      Meanwhile, how is the police investigation the business of the NSPCC, as such? It is a charity, and a very highly politicised one at that. It is not a public body accountable, at least in theory, to either or both of local government and of a central government itself accountable to Parliament.

      This is rather like the sinister power of the RSPCA, another highly politicised charity with no democratic accountability, to bring prosecutions, leading its senior officers to appear on television outside courthouses wearing made-up uniforms and effectively impersonating policemen.

      • Noa

        Agreed, Mr Lindsay.
        The old fashioned, evidence based, trial by jury is being replaced by trial by fire, by ordeal and soon probably, trial by battle.
        The floodgates of litigation now thrown wide open, allegations are no longer fueled by divine exaltation but financial anticipation.
        It is time the corpse was dug up, the head to be spiked on the city walls,
        The gibbet encased skeleton to be taken on a final grisly tour of the UK; rattled in every hospital, prison and studio where he dropped ash.

        Who’s next? Not now just an album but a new record.

  • Austin Barry

    Just for fun suggest to the audience that they should all immediately convert to Islam and that those who don’t will be beheaded in the carpark.

    I bet that this modest proposal would result in yelps of joy and a barrage of applause from the relentlessly sincere and concerned audience of Eloi idiots.


    The Coalition are trying to make people feel guilty for not allowing houses to be built in their back yards, but will your guests accept and admit that the housing crisis is caused by immigration and not by native population growth. If several million Romanians and Bulgarians come to the UK at the end of this year is it reasonable to expect the native British people to just allow green spaces to be built over to house them?

  • humeanbeing

    Douglas, how about the quote from Angela Merkel you mentioned in your last blogpost?

    ‘If Europe today accounts for just over 7 percent of the world’s
    population, produces around 25 percent of global GDP and has to finance
    50 percent of global social spending, then it’s obvious that it will
    have to work very hard to maintain its prosperity and way of life.’

    That seems pretty topical to me.

  • Tron

    Find out who picks the audience.

    • Noa

      Recruited from the cast of “Claire in the Community”?

    • David Lindsay

      Find out who picks the panel. Even trailing the repeat before that of The News Quiz, the Radio Four announcer thought that one of the panellists was the human rights and criminal law barrister, and sometime Labour Councillor and parliamentary candidate, John Cooper QC.

      As soon as anyone, anyone at all, pulls out, then Any Questions rings round the Hard Right “think tank” (too rich to need to work) circuit that also has permanent residence on Newsnight, the Today programme, and The Daily Politics.

      On Any Questions, as on Question Time, there are always two Tories. Always. Why is that? Plus, at least in the televised case, a chairman who is a member of the Bullingdon Club. Is Douglas Murray, of Eton and Oxford, a member of the Bullingdon Club? I think we should be told.

      • Christian

        The hard right? Go and lie down in a darkened room dear.

        • David Lindsay

          If Murray isn’t, then I cannot imagine who is.

          It is now perfectly respectable and actively encouraged within the media to come on and call for the abolition of all public provision, except perhaps for wars ordered up by the Israeli Far Right and by its American Amen Corner, of which the latter is not even in government in its own country.

          That is as pernicious, and it is as far from mainstream public opinion, as the Hard Left of 30 years ago ever was. Moreover, unlike that, it is at the very heart of government, and it is permitted to sell itself as scarcely political at all, just common sense. Murray is a prime example.

  • Bob Thomas

    The quality of the EU debate in the mainstream media (bother those in favour and those against) should up their game. I trust that Mr Murray can cut through the waffle about “renegotiation” and the talk of a “new settlement” parroted by politicians and the media. The heart of the matter is sovereignty. Who rules? Is it the parliament elected in Westminster by mandate of the British people or the unelected Commission in Brussels? EU leaders on the continent have been quite clear about their intention to create a ‘federal’ European state but British politicians continue to conflate the EU with the EEA/Common Market. This is a false comparison. The real questions are: do British citizens want to be part of a political union of this kind? What are the potential benefits? What are the potential drawbacks?

    This is what should be being discussed. But the consequences of the massive constitutional change evinced by the Treaty of Rome, Single European Act, Maastricht Treaty and Lisbon Treaty are rarely even mentioned. It is if the politicians are frightened about the politics of the thing. These issues should be being discussed in public and politicians should be called out when they attempt to dodge the issue.

    • Noa

      Hear hear- but would he be allowed to challenge the false orthodoxy of re-negotiation and the requirements of Article 50?

  • AdemAljo

    Doesn’t matter what you say to these two bastions of illiberalism, as they will blatantly have their own opinion to voice. Especially Harman.

    Just make sure, as you walk towards the studio with Harman and Hughes, that you hold the door open for Harman, quipping, ‘ladies first.’

  • Noa

    You may want to consider the demonisation of the right in socialists dogma and its effect on mainstream media and thought, to the extent that debate on major issues like immigration is now taboo due to the manipulation and implementation of politically correct language.
    Or why, thanks to Harmon’s ‘equality’ legislation, Christians are now prosecuted for refusing to allow practicing homosexuals in their homes.

    Good luck and best wishes for a successfully libertarian debate!

    • Colonel Mustard

      I agree with that. “Right wing” is now being used in the media almost like a pejorative and to qualify political viewpoints whereas “left wing” is never used that way. It is almost like “right wing so your views are borderline criminal and can be discounted”.

  • Daniel Maris

    I’d do a little reading up on Elizabeth Pakenham, Countess Longford, so at some point you can introduce into the conversation: “As your Aunt, the Countess Longford said, Harriet…”

    If UKIP or mass immigration come up, best to reference Gordon Brown’s “bigot” comment as in “When YOUR Prime Minister, Harriet, called that sweet septugenarian a bigot just because she was rightly concerned about the effects in her area of mass immigration…”

    For the Lib Dems I’d say the line is: “It’s all very well for the Lib Dems in Parliament, for the Lib Dem Ministers with their chauffeur driven cars, mega pensions, and exciting lifestyle. For them it’s very heaven. But for the poor footslogger in the shires and towns of this country, the soul has been sucked out of the Lib Dems – they are just a dry husk now. They won’t recover from this.”

    • David Lindsay

      Labour’s best result ever remains that of 1951, when almost every Liberal candidate lost his deposit. Making it very disappointing indeed that Labour is only targeting 106 seats after five years of the Coalition and after the SNP’s loss of the independence referendum.

      Where Labour is in third place or below, and perhaps also where it is in a sufficiently distant second place, then it should dispense with any requirement that its prospective nominees be party members (although they would of course have to join if they were selected), provided that they had been registered voters within the constituency’s then boundaries for at least 15 years, and provided that they were recommended to the Constituency Labour Party by the public signatures of at least five per cent of the voters.

      If affordable, the Constituency Labour Party General Committee’s shortlist of two such applicants should be submitted to an independent, binding ballot of the entire constituency electorate.

      Labour should also undertake to meet maximum election expenditure in every constituency. The unions are loaded, but not all of them are, or need necessarily become, affiliated to the Labour Party.

      The RMT and the FBU both no longer are (the RMT’s cheque is returned uncashed every year), but they both retain membership of the Labour Representation Committee chaired by John McDonnell, and that Committee is constitutionally committed to the election of a Labour Government.

      50 per cent of Labour Party members are also members of the technically unaffiliated teachers’ unions, the non-fan clubs of Michael Gove. There is the Unison General Political Fund. And so on.

      Immense possibilities, if one knows where and how to look. There is no reason for any Lib Dem, or for more than about 100 Conservatives, to be returned to the next Parliament. No reason at all.

  • LB

    In summary, the estimates in the new supplementary table indicate a total Government pension obligation, at the end of December 2010, of £5.01 trillion, or 342 per cent of GDP, of which around £4.7 trillion relates to unfunded obligations.

    How are you going to pay the debts, including the off balance sheet debts such as the 5,010 bn listed above, when you only have 550 bn of tax revenue, but a 700 bn a year spending habit?

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