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Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Why Jenny Tonge Should be Abolished
George Monbiot and I don't agree on an awful lot, but his column today in the Guardian was spot on. He cites the presense of Jenny Tonge in the House of Lords as a very good reason to reform it. Well, to be truthful, he says it should be closed down, but let's not go down that road. Jenny Tonge is one politician who I truly detest. Her appearances on Question Time are guaranteed to set my blood pressure racing. Her views are often repugnant (this week she insulted the tribesmen of Botswana) and she still hasn't renounced her views on suicide bombers. The fact that she ever became an MP was bad enough, but for Charles Kennedy to put her into the Lords was unforgiveable and incomprehensible given her views of him. So let's abolish Jenny Tonge, not the House of Lords. Hattip to Bob Piper
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Given the amount of applause she got on the last QT, she'd be a shoe-in for an elected house of lords :)
An nasty piece of work to be sure.
The Question Time audience claps for anything that's motherhood and apple-pie as long as it's delivered punchily.
They particularly don't like the realism that comes with the opinion of many Conservatives.
The QT audience loves soundbites and it's proof that there is still a market for spin in the UK.
I think one or two of her comments were overly sensational (but not as unreasonable as they were (mis)interpreted). On a personal level, she's one of the most charming and friendly people I've had the privilege to meet.
Yes, there's a wider point here about the quality of people nominated for peerages. Historically the Lib Dems have always had trouble finding people to fill their allocation because they have fewer MPs and fewer people among their ranks who have held senior positions in public life. So you get situations where fairly minor and inconsequential figures like Tonge are nominated purely to make up the numbers.
That said, this is phenomenon is certainly not confined to the Lib Dems. There used to be a convention that only ex-Cabinet ministers were entitled to peerages, but New Labour has stretched the rule to include (a) anyone standing down in a seat wanted for one of Blair's favourites, and (b) anyone whose seat disappears in a boundary shuffle who Blair still wants around the place.
Of course by far the best way of dealing with this problem (and the cash-for-peerages issue) is an elected Second Chamber.
As far as I recall from having worked for someone was invited and appeared on QT, the parties don't actually "put people up" - the programme's researchers seek them out independently, which makes things mildly more interesting.
I think that last comment just has to be bollocks. Perhaps the non-party political guests are sought out in the way dynamite suggests but the parties regularly determine who appears and who doesn't.
I remember an occasion when Nick Brown was due to be on once, but
Blair had already decided to sack him in the reshuffle which was due to be announced the following day, so he was stood down and someone else went on instead. Sure enough, Nick's dismissal was announced 24 hours later.
Jenny Tonge should be abolished because she doesn't think the Palestinian people should be abolished. This is anti-Semitic.
It is unacceptable for a British political party to have as a member someone who thinks non-Jewish peoples should enjoy the advantage of a state devoted to their interests like the Jewish people have Israel.
David Cameron, to his great credit, says Zionsim is in his party's DNA - even as he claims that a similar arrangement for the peoples of Britain is monstrous racism. We need more like Cameron - and NONE like Tonge.
Let Israel live and all other peoples perish!
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