The BBC’s Question Time exerts a horrible compulsive fascination. We know what we are to be served up, it makes us hurl expletives at the screen (my wife, who is trying to sleep, tells me to shut up), and yet we still hope that maybe just one panel member or audience member will have the courage to expose the liberals hypocrisy and voice what ordinary people think. We love to hate it, its left-liberal bias, its smug virtue signalling, and yet it remains a national institution of a sort.
But last night there was nobody. The question concerned the burqa. You would think that one audience member (this was Dewsbury for heaven’s sake) – a drunkard, a freak, a dwarf, a flat-earther, anybody – could have made the obvious points: that medieval Islam enslaves women, that free speech involves the right to question and cause offence (and, yes, ridicule – even better to ridicule) religious doctrine, that Islam and its Sharia are antithetical to Western values, that Islamic states are totalitarian theocratic hell-holes, that the English, heirs of two thousand years of Judaeo-Christian civilization, resent their churches and now even their pubs being converted into mosques etc.
What we got was lashings of liberal platitudes: we must fight Islamophobia, intolerance, racism and the far right. No-one questioned the validity of the term ‘Islamophobia’. No-one defended the Enlightenment values of free speech and free inquiry. No-one questioned the multicultural society.
Most depressing of all were the contributions of the conservative panellists, Camilla Tominey of The Telegraph and Chris Skidmore, vice chairman of the Conservative Party. They came out with even more platitudes, desperate that we should admire them for their impeccably liberal credentials. Boris, they agreed, had used ‘unacceptable’ language in describing black clad Muslim women as resembling letter boxes and bank robbers. What, one wonders, would they have made of the former French prime minister’s description of the burqa as ‘symbolic combat gear’? Does Tominey really believe the nonsense she is spouting – she even managed to describe Dewsbury as ‘heavily integrated’! – or is it now obligatory? Skidmore’s political and moral compass is apparently constituted by the distinction between behaviour that is ‘appropriate’, and behaviour that is ‘inappropriate’, the latter meaning, of course, Islamophobic, racist, intolerant, populist, far right, extremist etc.
Seldom have I been more depressed. What hope is there for the country when the Conservative party is in the grip of the Newspeak of cultural Marxism? It’s all too easy to ridicule Boris, but he’s all we’ve got. Churchill is his self-confessed role-model. Churchill too was the object of much ridicule, until he took charge in 1940.
Will Boris yet do us a Churchill?