Live-blogging Question Time.

23.32   We’re onto a case I don’t know of in which a paranoid schizophrenic held under the Mental Health Act and who is a convicted murderer wants to starve himself to death. Ed Davey responds with a staggering red-herring: he is also against voluntary euthanasia. I repeat: this man is a Liberal Democrat. How? I do not know. Mensch objects on the grounds that he didn’t give his murder victims a choice. I knew her playing to the galleries would seep out eventually, and Johnson calls her on it. The euthanasia and suicide and mental health and murder issues all get muddled up in a mess, Rotten finishes with a roaring defence of self-determination once more and Dimbleby wraps it up. Night all. This certainly generated some traffic. Do give me feedback. I’d say I’ll do it again soon but it looks like QT’s off for the summer now. À bientôt!

23.31   I take everything back about Rotten. That one comment alone at 23.27 redeemed him and the whole show. Johnson’s still defending his decision to sack a scientist for saying what he thought the evidence suggests.

23.30   Heh:

23.27   STOP! Johnny Rotten says his primary principle in life is TRANSPARENCY. The distribution of proper information! And what move would best allow open discussion of the impact of drugs? I wonder. Mensch shakes her head. He snarls at her hypocrisy.’Let us as human beings determine our own journey in life!’ Woahh!

23.25   No sense from Mensch, but she comes across as surprisingly sincere in comparison to her opportunistic tweets. She talks from experience of taking Class A drugs, insists she won’t glorify that choice, tells us of her long-term minor mental health problems caused by consumption and says she doesn’t want more kids taking them accordingly.

23.23   Oh, I forgot Johnson sacked Professor Nut for demanding the downgrading of cannabis. Lawson thinks liberalisation would leave Hampstead Heath as a safe-haven for international drug tourists, full of heroin addicts and unsafe for our kids to play around. A rare moment of melodrama from him. Only Mensch is left to see some sense.

23.22   Sunny again:

23.19   Final discussion: drug legalisation. Ed Davey’s not for it. He’s a Liberal Democrat. He says the focus should be ‘rehabilitation’. Rotten is against it too because… his drugs would then be taxed. Is this a joke?

23.16   Lawson makes the perfect point that language is different. Societies cannot tolerate diversity on that front in the same way they can everything else. An inability to communicate is a special sort of impediment to social and political cohesion and a vibrant civil society with decent debate.

23.15   Dimbleby catches Mensch out on another trivial question, but correction: these are the ones on the current test. So Mensch is for the reforms. But that means she wants questions on ‘culture’ instead, not rights and law and politics. She should be asked how good citizenship means knowing about the Beatles.

23.13   Johnson condemns those questions. Asks for a focus on the values of rights and liberty and democracy instead. Hurrah!

23.12   Dimbleby goes to ask Johnson one of the new questions: how many days a year do children go to school? He guesses rightly, but it was a guess and he confessed ignorance. There’s a lesson there, however much he laughed it off easily. If an ex-Cabinet minister can’t even recite such a trivial fact, what is the point?

23.11   Is Rotten stoned? He’s now claiming he represents Britain in all its diversity. You could say that.

23.10   Mensch claims we’re the only country in the world without a Veterans Department. Wow, if true. And shameful. But not relevant. Onto the citizenship test. Wonderful. My post is mentioned on Lib Con today, btw.

23.07   In case you don’t trust The Mail, Reuters quotes Cameron. What I want to know though is what punishment-powers are available for those exposed as in contempt of parliament through deception. Nothing happened to Myler, right?

23.05   Quick fact-check from yours truly: if the Daily Mail is to be believed, Mensch is correct – the parliamentary inquiry will, unusually, involve oaths.

23.04   Rotten a few minutes ago: ‘morals are a religious thing’. Get him off.

23.01   On to cuts in defence spending meaning a smaller British army in the future. Johnson insists it’s a ‘dangerous world’ out there, rendering this unwise. Sigh. An argument from a need to not boost unemployment in such bleak times, I can take. But the need for a big army to keep us safe? What’s the political interest in such fear-mongering?

22.59   Rotten calls the casino bankers the ‘shit stirrers’. Genius. There’s the explanation for the ‘strong language’ warning.

22.56   Mensch says parliamentary inquiry will put people on oath. That doesn’t sound possible to me. Dimbleby is equally skeptical. That one will need fact-checking.

22.55   New topic, please. This is going nowhere. The audience knows as little as me, the Tory and Lib Dem are toeing the party line and Johnny Rotten keeps chirping in with inaudible no doubt nonsense comments.

22.52   Johnson thinks a judge-led inquiry is inevitable with time.

22.48   Dominic Lawson raises the tone a little and goes all serious and sophisticated, distinguishing high street banking from the City’s casinos. He wants tax-payers backing-up the former, and leaving the risks of the latter well alone.

Lawson’s Sunday Times column is one of the finest in the country, incidentally. Don’t be fooled by the Spectator snobbishness and rar-voice.

22.45   Owen Jones:

Rotten is now asking what the point in voting is. I suggest a criterion for being on Question Time is not being politically apathetic and thinking the whole process is futile before the debate has even begun.

22.43   After sparring between Mensch and Alan Johnson, we now get to hear the insights of… Johnny Rotten. It’s like the Artist Taxi Driver. He even expresses himself in the same tone. What’s the logic in inviting on mindless musicians, BBC?

22.40   Mensch defends the government’s backing of a parliamentary inquiry into the banking scandal. “I don’t think the public cares what form the inquiry takes”. I’m yet to hear a Tory argument against an independent judicial inquiry. Leveson has been a perfect example of impartiality. From the little news I’ve digested this week, it’s clear the politicisation of the scandal is already under way. Who would trust MPs to conduct an investigation well?

22.38   ‘Tonight’s programme will include some strong language’. Seriously?

22.36   So I thought I’d try something new. I might be wrong-footed and have little to say on account of my failure to understand the Barclays scandal, which may very well dominate proceedings. But I’ll give it a go anyway. Louise Mensch is on the panel. She’s always to be relied upon for infuriatingly cheap political point-scoring. You’ll have to hit refresh for updates.


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