Tune In To My Contribution To BBC’s Any Answers.
Free Speech and Open Debate? Not on Any Questions.
It’s The First One On Iplayer, So You Won’t Have to Wade Through.
Click the play button to listen to my contribution
Friday’s Any Questions on Radio 4 was a shocking disappointment to anyone interested in free speech and open debate.
The first question was about corrupt education in schools, and was based on a news story earlier in the day about some unregistered education in Muslim schools, but the question didn’t mention the religion. The fact that the school was preaching “misogynistic, homophobic and anti-Semitic material”, was a pretty strong hint that this involved Muslims, but not to the BBC.
Any listener not aware of this story would have been mystified. The chairman, a Dimbleby naturally, should have explained the religious point, but he declined. All four of the fearless opinion formers – Dominic Grieve MP, Daily Mail’s Isabel Oakeshott, Chuka Umunna MP and Jeanette Winterson (novelis) – skirted around the issue and failed to mention “Muslim” or “Islam”. The chairman should have pointed this out. He didn’t.
Laughably, the second question was about how awful Donald Trump was, making a big deal about Muslim immigration. But your politician panellists, by their cowardly failure to mention Islam in that question, had already demonstrated why would-be leaders like Trump succeed because they mention issues most politicians want to cover up.
“Any Answers” wanted to talk about unregistered schools, but I managed to go straight in on the Muslim aspect, which the BBC regularly tries to silence, and the link with Trump. At the end Anita Anand asked me if I supported Trump. I said I didn’t, but I wished I’d added that given Trump’s policies are more akin to the National Front – against globalisation, against free trade, and for NHS-style health care for the U.S., he’s not even a proper Republican.