November 08, 2004

The lunatics are taking over on asylum

I didn't feel I was in the presence of greatness. But I didn't, unfortunately, get the chance to say so. There was a whole row of people from Brixton all waiting to denounce Mr Howard in various ways and from various viewpoints. However, the first audience member called to contribute went on for ever, despite managing to say very little. This drastically cut the time available for other speakers to be called before it was time for the break and the programme moved on to asylum and immigration.

Howard didn't do very well on the subject, as politicians never do when they are asked to explain irrational policies in a rational way: it only takes one informed voice asking how a quota can possibly work when it would mean somebody under threat of rape, torture or murder now being told not to flee until January when a new quota starts. It also means having to accept that immigration is a good and positive thing and then having to explain simultaneously that it's a drain on our resources that needs to be prevented. But of course immigration is always a dishonest debate, because it's really about race rather than about immigration: and debates about race are the most dishonest of them all, held not in public but behind closed doors and within closed minds.

The microphone-hogger was a posh-voiced woman called Rachel Heywood, from the local council's residents' consultation group, the Brixton Area Forum. Her understanding of how to make an impact when appearing briefly on television didn't seem to run to making her statement swiftly, memorably and to the point, but it did, obscurely, run to using the word locus.

Thinking about it, given that my own accent owes more than a little to the Home Counties middle class, it's probably just as well I didn't get on. It would have given a very strange impression of Brixton.


At November 08, 2004 1:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At November 09, 2004 11:49 pm, Blogger AngusF said...

Hey, that's a little harsh about Ms Heywood. She was clearly nervous and she did get to make a useful distinction between what Michael Howard had said after his recent visit and what Oliver Letwin, not so long ago, when he visited, which was much more balanced.

Talking of "balance", it seems to me that Michael Howard often isn't balanced; he speaks mostly in soundbites. And then, in trying to appeal to multiple interests, ends up making contradictory or non-fitting soundbites. His lack of reason makes him implausible.


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