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Friday, December 06, 2013

Brian's Big Debate in Airdrie

   Yesterday I got an email from the BBC inviting me to the audience of "Brian's Big Debate" in Airdrie.

     It appears Airdrie is not a hotbed of political forment (it is Labour). Of the 52 in the audience 36 were classes of schoolchildren bussed in. There was me and 15 other adults.

     The guests were 3 woman MSPs from the LabNatCon party and a professor of political correctness called Alan Miller. Britain's 3rd party still censored as with Question Time.

     4 items under discussion - the first introduced by Big Brian and the others, questions from the schoolkids which they may have had some help with.

  1 - Wasn't Nelson Mandela wonderful. You don't need me to say what everybody said. One member of the audience spoke and then Brian browbeat the local minister to speak, after trying and failing to get anybody any other participants. I kept quiet because I didn't feel the need to raise waves and am glad I did reading Jerry Pournelle on the subject

"RIP: Nelson Mandela, former President of the Republic of South Africa. The transition from apartheid to integration has not been entirely peaceful, but it never rose to civil war, and if South Africa still has a chance of emerging as a civilized society and nation it is due to him. He could have been a dictator. Instead he was a President"

He wrote both better and with more grace than I would have.
I am annoyed that our media have been cancelling programmes and devoting the entire news to hagiography because of a news flash that a foreign, unwell 95 year old had unexpectedly died. The BBC did not do so much for Thatcher who, even if we weren't British, was more important.

2- The possibility of changing the law that requires some sort of corroboration before somebody can be convicted. This was also one of the subjects chosen last time I was at the "Debate" though that time it was not allegedly chosen by a 13 year old.

The reason this time is that a couple of police bodies have reversed themselves and joined the SNP "consensus", Margaret Mitchell, the Tory speaker made a very good point that that looks suspiciously like kowtowing now that Scotland's police have been all brought under one central authority - in Edinburgh.

   I agreed with her on that and that it is very dangerous to a free society when rules of evidence are being removed purely to make convictions easier for one politically promoted charge (ie rape).

   On a second go Mitchell suggested several other changes in evidence which would work without so much of a problem (hearsay & similar previous crimes).

   I tried for another go to answer Miller blaming low rape convictions on "prejudice". I had intended to point out that defending solicitors normally prefer women on the jury since they are less likely to get all protective of the alleged victim, but I wasn't asked.

3 - Was about the rise in pension age. Obviously a lot of the normal about how "they" were just trying to save money. I said "The problem, and it isn't really a problem, is that we are all living longer. Over the last century life expectancy has gone up by 1 year for every 4 that passes and pensions must take account of that. Indeed before most of this audience have reached retirement age we will have made medicinal advances that will mean they can live indefinitely. So the whole question of pensions is going to be made obsolete.

4 - The PISA scores in which Scotland has done marginally better on reading and maths than England and marginally worse on science but the entire UK has slipped to mid-twentieth. The debaters all agreed that things could be better but at least we were ahead of the English.

I said "Scots politicians should be ashamed of this. For 700 years Scots have been better educated than the English, often the best in the world. Our role in the Enlightenment proves that.

We have now done marginally better than England on 2 classes but we actually spend quite a bit more per head. Worse than that - we have done worse than England in science. Scotland and Switzerland place first in the world in terms of scientific citations per capita - the best measure we have of scientific pre-eminence. Our politicians should be deeply ashamed of this failure."

I should have shoehorned in "as a member of UKIP I know there are a number of reforms that could improve the situation though they would not perform miracles and anyway they won't get discussed on the BBC" but we are all wise in hindsight. Improvements would be a voucher scheme; firing the 10% worst teachers since quality of teachers is far more important than class sizes; allowing discipline in schools; not wasting time and pupil's respect by teaching propaganda like CAGW; reinstating grammar schools; and prizes for top performers of which only 4 are actual UKIP policy.

However had I said that I might have put off a contribution from the kid who asked the question. He said that a problem was that it is difficult to learn when other kids are allowed to fool around in classes. I appreciate his problem. It is not in any way "liberal" or "caring" of kids not to allow discipline in schools. I'm not sure how bad things are but if the pupils are openly complaining they must be bad.

On the way out the producer singled me out and thanked me for my contributions. I must agree they were far and away the best from the audience. This desperation to get an audience is interesting though not desperate enough to try anything people want.
PS I should, for comparison, have given the question I posed which the BBC decided should not be asked, under any circumstances, even when there were zero questions (or zero usable ones) from any adult.

".Scotland's central belt has massive shale gas resources. The SNP are bringing in tougher rules to prevent it being exploited. Meanwhile Grangemouth refinery is going to be saved by bringing in shale gas drilled in the USA, where it costs 1/4 of what our gas does. Is this equivalent to carrying coal to Newcastle?"

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This is pretty desperate stuff by the BBC though. Brian Redface is well past his sell-by date I fear.

Are these the "kids" who will vote on next years SNP wishlist "referendum" ?

God save us poor sailors !
To be fair to Brian he does know the minutia of the facts and figures of politics. That is his job but it is more than most churnalists can manage.

That this is the best the BBC can do to interact with the public it is indeed desperate. The format ensures nobody but the approved gets more than a few words, no real debate is possible & even the approved guests can't say anything important. They continue to refuse to even think about allowing the formal debate I have previously suggested would be truly popular.

The kids were mostly to young to vote next year. They were all done up in blazers and good manners, which makes the boy's remark about discipline all the more valuable. If these are schools where discipline is a problem I hate to think what "rough" schools would be like.

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