Thursday, 29 October 2009

Talking to extremes.....

UK politicians were split again this week over an old question: “Is it right to debate with extreme right wing and racist groups?” It’s come up again because a dubious Dutch MP Gert Wilders got to visit Parliament last Friday. Also, BNP leader Nick Griffin was on the BBC’s Question Time. Horrible Grouchy Gert caused a stir a few months back when he wasn’t allowed into Britain due to his extreme views on Islam. As for the BNP — well, they’ve been ruffling feathers for a couple of decades now, largely because they’re horrible to foreigners. Most people in Britain agree racism’s bad. But that’s where the agreement ends. Some want to debate with these people head-on to expose the weakness of their views. Others reckon we should just ignore them. I want the debate. Just pretending they don’t exist isn’t going to work! You can’t win an argument by not having it. If your mate claimed Hull City was the greatest football team in Britain—or that Sport stunna Jodie Oram isn’t attractive — you wouldn’t just ignore them would you? You’d sit them down in front of Match of the Day or buy them a copy of the Sport! And that’s exactly what we should be doing with the extremists, using facts and arguments, not pretending that they’ll simply get bored and take up golf instead. With unemployment up, community spirit down and the ever-looming threat of terrorist attacks, the temptations of prejudice and blaming an ethnic group are great indeed. But by challenging those ideas publicly we can get a more moderate result. That’s why I’m personally willing to debate with Mr Griffin. There’s no other way.
MY Daily Sport column seems to be creating a bit of jealousy! A funny little fella called Matthew Withers can’t stop writing about me in a tiny weekly regional paper in Wales. And given what he writes about everyone else, I’m sure he’ll see the funny side of my gentle joshing about him. If Mattie was a woman, I’d report him as a stalker. Last weekend he did a huge front page story about my column, and copied whole sections of my work into it! Poor Mattie seems to have some sort of problem with my column, even though he’s clearly been following it every week. My advice to the likes of my mate Withers is to stop patronising the public. When he sneers at the Daily Sport, he sneers at readers who happen to like my more positive and informal approach towards political reporting. As I’ve said before, journalists who run down the content and style of this paper offend their own profession. It’s as if they’ve all kinds of hang-ups about what people like to –– or should –– read. Or is it just the fact that thousands more people read my column than read poor Mattie’s? If that is what’s bugging him, then it would suggest that for little Mattie, size matters. No doubt he’ll carry on his literary love affair with me this weekend. I’ll keep you posted.
LABOUR are to civil liberties what icebergs were to the Titanic! They tried introducing 42-day detention without trial and came up with a crazy ID cards scheme. Another loopy anti-liberal idea was keeping a database of innocent people’s DNA! Until now, everyone who’s arrested has had a sample of DNA taken. Under government rules, this is kept by the coppers, even if the person is found innocent, for any length of time they want! Understandably there was uproar. What right have the Old Bill got to take genetic samples off you when you’ve committed no crime? Thankfully, the ministers have backed down. They’re now proposing time limits on how long the DNA can be kept before being disposed of. It’s a step in the right direction. But they should be going further and not keeping samples from any innocent folk at all. Sadly, I doubt a change of government will change the policy. The last government to introduce detention without trial was led by none other than a certain Conservative called Margaret Thatcher!
OUR beloved Prime Minister, “Flash Gordon” Brown, was making noises about the environment again this week. It’s not surprising. Some days ago Greenpeace camped on Parliament’s roof after daringly scaling the perimeter fence. These green warriors want action, they believe Ministers are being crap about not taking proper environmental measures. The campaigners sat up there for hours, shivering their nuts off, to get people to notice. It sort of worked — after all, I’m writing about it, and the photos were good too. And Gordy does seem to have got up and done something about it now. But consider this. The “Authorities” spend millions on security at Parliament. But these eco-protesters still got in. Maybe all you need to invade the Palace of Westminster is recycled trousers and a good cause.

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