Thursday, 11 August 2011


Question Time on the BBC was a good one this time around, with a heavyweight panel offering some good comments and some very lively and informative audience participation. Even John Prescott managed to make sense and Brian Paddick rocked, as a policeman who has worked in some tough parts of London and who can speak with authority on such matters. It is frustrating that all debate on the criminal looting will not be this interesting or useful.

As it ended I was reminded of the recent comments from countries including Libya, Iran, Russia and China on the looting, condemning the British system and government and calling for wholesale change.

Well, let's analyse that in microcosm. Which of the above countries would bring together five lively and informed commentators from different political perspectives to debate recent traumatic events in their countries? For that matter, which of the above countries has a viable and active opposition which, for all its myriad faults (Eds Milispoons and Balls for starters), I would defend to the death as an essential element of our democracy? Which of the above countries would allow such free debate - much of it quite rightly critical of the government - among its citizenry on mainstream television?

The past week has shown that England has problems a-plenty and that we are by no means perfect but seriously folks, Iran a paragon of free speech? A country where the police force democracy protesters to drink excrement? Libya a standard bearer for human rights, where citizens who disagree with the lunatic General clinging on to power are tortured or killed, along with their families. Russia, struggling to enter the 21st century and good luck to them but seriously, give up the lectures to us on freedom, tovarisch. China, an emerging global power which is so strong and successful that it allows no dissent from the rantings of a 200 year old German and a murdering dictator.

We have much to think about in Britain after recent events but this Englishman would not trade troubled but free, democratic and relatively prosperous Britain with any one of the above countries for all the tea in, well, China.

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