Respect leader and Birmingham City councillor Salma Yaqoob featured on this week’s Question Time panel, joining presenter David Dimbleby and alongside Labour MP Liam Byrne, Conservative MP Justine Greening, former Sun editor and columnist Kelvin MacKenzie and television gardener and writer Monty Don.
Salma spoke on a number of issues including Dutch MP Geert Wilders, the economy and banking, child truancy, climate change and the drug reclassification policy.
On yesterday’s UK entry ban of controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders, she said:
“Personally, I am uncomfortable with censorship. Does Mr Wilders have the right to provoke or even be offensive? Yes, he does under freedom of speech, and if he’s being barred from the country simply because he offends people’s religious sensibilities then no matter how personally distasteful I might find his views, I wouldn’t support a ban.
“However, society does have a right and indeed a duty to protect itself from people who incite hatred and incite violence and if he was deemed to be in breach of our laws in this regard then, in that context, a ban would be justifiable.”
“Although I find his [Wilder's] indignation about being banned and calling for the upholding of the freedom of speech abit hypocritical considering he advocates banning the Qur’an,” she added.
She also spoke on the state of our economy and finances and whether certain employees of banks, that were saved using public money, deseved bonuses. She challenged Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie, who claimed such bank employees were ‘talented people’ who couldn’t be stopped.
“Talented people? They have wrecked our economy! It’s absolutely shameless and digusting,” she responded.
“These are people who’ve wrecked our economy and I don’t believe a word of this ‘contract’ argument. These people would not have a job now were it not for the British tax payers bailing out the banks. They’re lucky they’re on a salary, never mind the cheek to ask for a bonus in these circumstances.
“It’s also politicians who should be in the dock because it was their decision to take away the safety mechanism, to introduce de-regulation which allowed the unvetted greed. It allowed the bankers to make the risky decisions without any proper scrutiny. It freed them up to reward themselves with these incredible bonuses and at the same time politicians from the Conservative party as well as the Labour party championed this neo-liberal economic orthodoxy which has brought us this disaster,” explained Salma.
“I think it’s really disgusting that we have now a public culture where if you commit huge crimes, which are resulting in millions of ordinary people losing their jobs and their homes, you only have to come up with a half-hearted apology, no accoutability, no sanctions, no punishments – and if you’re a politician you can lead our country into war on a lie and not have to resign – there is something really deeply wrong with a democratic system we have where instead of people being made an example of, we now have the lesson that ‘you can do this in the future, you can be this reckless because there’ll be no deterrent’,” she concluded.
Watch the complete programme on BBC iPlayer via the links below (UK only).
BBC Question Time – (12th February 2009)
BBC Question Time Extra [BBC News 24] – (12th February 2009)
An edited 30-minute verson of Thursday’s Question Time will be shown on Saturday 14th February 2009, at 8.30pm on BBC News 24.
Website link and presenter biogs here.