« Howard Flight is back | Main | EPP leaders threaten Cameron »

Comments

I coudn't believe what I was watching, I'm not sure about lukewarm audience, I would say she was completely isolated.

Those who say 'I believe in free speech, but...' are just the same as those who try introduce a racist rant with the the words 'I'm not racist, but..'. You can't conditionally believe in freedom of speech, because you always get to the point where somebody is judging which opinions are OK and which are not, thought crime is a good description.

It's hard enough trying to defend the Jewish community on a daily basis, and to contend with the the anti-semitism that exists without this sort of view giving fuel to the flames of those who rant about 'Jewish Conspiracies' (think Populus poll). Preventing debate only makes martyrs of those who hold such abhorrent and blatently incorrect views.

I hope Theresa Villers will reflect on the very poor reception she recieved for her comments, and I also hope other Jewish will come forward in acknowledging this is not the way to defend victims of the Holocaust.

Her and Osborne. Are idiots in charge of this party?

Less name-calling and something more elevated please, 'looking for a clue'?

I'm sorry to say that Nigel Farage of UKIP was a far more effective spokesman for right wing opinion than Theresa. Clearly she is unaware that there might be a connection between free societies and ones that abhor anti-semitism.

I am forced to agree with Mr Ainsworth. Theresa Villiers is usually an impressive operator, but she was clearly not playing at the top of her game tonight. I have no doubt that her views are very deeply and sincerely held, but I believe there is also a sizable Jewish vote in Barnet so there may have been a bit of 'playing to the gallery' going on in her case.

Nigel Farage has a loud, booming voice and can get a point across very effectively from time to time, but once you get beyond that he is a bore and his party is a busted flush.

Okay bottom line, David is an idiot, but we cant go around jailing everyone because they want 15 minutes of fame and will do or say anything to get...and we cant jail people for lying..If that were the case than President Bush would be in jail..he started a WAR based on false information, and what about Cheney..he shot a man in the FACE..(okay it was an accident????)..why not just put David in a room with Holocaust survivors, seem film reels, visit the Holocaust museum in Washington DC..that is evidence..that is punishment..that is FACT..show ME ONE weapon of mass destruction and I MIGHT be able to pardon Bush

Can't we just ignore Irving?

I could not believe what I was hearing from Theresa last night. I have a great deal of admiration for her but really! As others have alluded to she revealed towards the end of her peculiar rant why she took that line - her constituency is in North London. Not sure whether Golder's Green is in her constituency but she even said she had a number of synangogues.

Trouble is was she really playing the Barnet element right?

My one real concern was when she started to say she wanted to introduce a similar law here. I thought that was a little unnecessary even if playing to the North London massif!

I musr also admit that I get a little nervous when "spokesmen" start going off and giving "personal views". Personal it may be but in the publics mind they don't have time to seperate those views. The public watching will remember the Tory saying X, not that it was a personal view.

Irrespective of Theresa's constituents (and I find it odd to assert that all Jewish people would want to criminalise Holocaust denial...certainly several with whom I have spoken do not feel it should be) there are times when principles have to be laid out clearly.

Theresa is right in several respects. The Holocaust was singularly brutal and evil, different to the Stalinist and Maoist engineered famines because of the nature of the deliberate extermination of six million people. Yet in a free society, we cannot lock people for expressing views which are repugnant and offensive unless they actually cause real and direct harm.

Anti-Semitism is a serious problem. It could be argued that this is the harm. However, we do not deal with that by locking up cranks like Irving. Irving needs to be challenged and exposed as a liar. Locking him up merely turns him into a celebrity, and confirms the notion that anti-Semites have of Jewish exceptionalism/conspiracy.

I am not so much bothered by people who deny genocides which happened in the 1930's and 40's as by those who ignore and do nothing about genocides taking place in our own times in Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur. The phrase 'this must never be allowed to happen again' has become a sick joke. What about Srebrenica ?


Chipping Barnet is in fact the least Jewish of the three Barnet constituencies by a long way.

I agree that that anti-semitism is not best combatted by locking people up for denying the holocaust.

Without challenging for one moment the extreme horror and evil of the Holocaust, I am wary of the argument that it is "unique" because of the nature of the deliberate extermination of six million people. If I had to choose, heaven forbid, between being gassed at Treblinka and dying a lingering death from hunger, disease, frostbite and slave labour in the wastes of Siberia, I know which I would pick....

I would agree with Finkelstein entirely.I have not seen Theresa in action before.Last night on Question Time I thought she was poor across the board and that Nigel Farage completely outclassed her.I have heard many bad things about Farage but last night I wished he would join the Conservative party.

I didn't see the programme, but I agree with most of the sentiments above. To invent a law like Holocaust Denial a country must have an enormous burden of guilt on its shoulders. The law makes up for that I suppose, but it has a ghastly Orwellian ring to it. And does it solve anything to chuck an elderly, bankrupt writer into jail?
Incidentally, Tebbit's on "Any Questions" tonight. I've got a lot of time for Norm, but the BBC have got him on for one reason - to rubbish Cameron. Listen out for sly encouragement from Dimblebum.

I have always had a lot of time for Theresa but last night she disgraced herself and her party. A member of the Shadow Cabinet went on national television and said that she supported thought crimes. She argued that the state has the right to decide whether a view is valid or not.

As for Farage, he is, and always has been, a superb communicator. He knows what he wants to say and he says it loud and clear in a way that ordinary people understand. It's an ability all too lacking in many of our leading figures.

Malcolm I completely agree with you.

for tanse ewanse
Please calm down, you seem to have forgotten, that prior to the Iraq invasion most of the world leading figures including the head of the UN were convinced that Saddam had WMD, not only the Bush administration. Furthermore the last word is not said about this matter. Just last week new Saddam tapes emerged where he talked to his buddies about his biological weapon developements.

I don't think she discgraced the party. She stated that she was speaking purely personally and I believe her. Despite all the 'lukewarm' responses she got from the audience and the interruptions from other panel members she stuck to her belief. She spoke from her own soapbox and I don't think she left much room for the press to intepret her stance as party policy.

If she support this sort of law then hats off to her for stating she supports it. Many Tories supported a law that I diagreed with (smoking ban) and I'm not about to hang them out to dry.

I've always thought well of Barbara Villiers but, personal opinion or not, her lack of judgement on this issue was alarming. I hope she realises her mistake so she can learn from it and repair the damage she did to her prospects.

"Nigel Farage has a loud, booming voice and can get a point across very effectively from time to time, but once you get beyond that he is a bore and his party is a busted flush."

Maybe so, but I loved the way he caught out Alistaire Darling on the "do you think selling in imperial measurements after 2010 should be a criminal offence" point. I'm annoyed Dimblebee didn't force him to answer.

Villiers struck me as rather over-emotional and I'm glad the audience and the panel effectively gave her the thumbs down. Darling's mealymouthed answer was unsurprising - "well, he knew it was illegal in Austria". Yes but should he have been jailed for denying the holocaust?!

As you can probably gather I found Darling to be the most annoying member of the panel.

I didn't warm to Farage. I thought his criticism of democratisation in the Middle East was disappointing, even hypocritical. For a party that prides itself on fighting for UK self-determination it was very lukewarm on other peoples getting the right to change their governments.

Mark,I think you mean Theresa Villiers.Barbara Villiers (if that is her real name which I doubt) was the nightmare that used to post so often during the leadership election but thankfully has disappeared since.

Making a martyr of the likes of David Irvine is totally counter productive. Danny Finkelstein is absolutely right; you fight lies with truth and will always win in the end.
In my youth, on the so called holiday of a lifetime, along with a group friends I visited Dachau and the memory of what I saw there remains with me vividly some 40 years on. We were a diverse bunch of Scottish Presbyterians not marked out for our ecumenical outlook on the world, The visit certainly cured us all of any anti Semitism lurking in our psyche. Truth will always overcome; free speech should never be undermined

Editor - please draw Ms Villiers attention to the overwhelming feeling here. She should have read Danny Finkelstein's excellent and very moving article in the Times before trashing fundamental freedoms on national TV. For a Shadow Cabinet member to express a 'personal opinion' on such a fundamental issue is profoundly ill-advised.

Ed, I agree that Mr Farage hijacked the point regarding democracy in Iraq but my reading of his point, and I admit I'm not as well informed on the subject as many of you are, was that having provided the mechanism to create a democratic government in Iraq that we couldn't then interfere if the will of the people is to split into three separate states. This may not suit western powers but if it is what they (the people of Iraq that is) want then who are we to stop them. I also caught his gist when he pointed out that the threat of Iran, who are openly stating their wish to develop their nuclear abilities against the wishes of the UN, may not be openly contained as the political will and the money for a second conflict just isn't there. However, this second threat poses a bigger problem for the West than Iraq ever did.

But then I like Farage as I do straight talkers like Redwood, Tebbit and Widdicombe, I don't always agree with the points he makes but I like the strident way he makes them.

Theresa is entitled to her opinion and it's a bit odd for defenders of free speech to deny her right or harp on her being isolated-isn't that why we have free speech, so no matter how unpopular a view may be it is still aired to challenge the rest of us.

Holocaust deniers are not contributing to debate. They know the Holocaust happened and deny it for political reasons. They deliberately dance on the victims' ashes. That makes them vile, but in Europe they are not a threat-so jailing Irving is excessive.

Mark,I think you mean Theresa Villiers.

Malcolm, you are absolutely right... I never thought highly of Barbara Villiers! Oh dear, I hadn't realised that 'she' had made such a long-lasting impression upon me.

I think we can all understand why the Austrians have this law, but jailing Irving at the same time as the Danish Cartoon row is a complete own goal.

I've always thought that in the west we tolerate everything except outright intolerance in the form of calling for violent attacks on individuals or groups who have not harmed others in any way.

Only those who call for the holocaust mark II etc. (see Abu Hamza) should be jailed. Denying the holocaust as a historical fact may mark you as unpleasant or terminally stupid but you certainly shouldn't be jailed.

As for the idea all Jews would support her - I think she is mistaken if that is why she said it. Lots of gay people died as well, and as a gay man I still think her views are utterly wrong and a worrying sign that our society thinks freedom of speech needs to be 'policed' for ideological and moral purity.

Indeed, rather than saying it to placate her constituents, or so she thinks, it's even more worrying to think that she might actually believe in what she was saying.

"I didn't warm to Farage. I thought his criticism of democratisation in the Middle East was disappointing, even hypocritical. For a party that prides itself on fighting for UK self-determination it was very lukewarm on other peoples getting the right to change their governments."

But the fact remains, democratisation WASNT the reason given when went to war. If darling or Blair, or Cameron believe that imposing democracy is reason enough for war, then there are many other countries we could declare war against. Are we to bomb the US because the balance of probability suggests Gore won the 2000 election?
Needless to say, i therefore dont buy Blairs, or the rest of the neocons standard rebutt that those who oppose the war somehow dont believe the Iraqis, are ready, or deserve democracy, given the lack of universality to their democracy spreading mission. Policy is meaningless unless it is Honest and Truthful. The Iraq war was neither. And our so called opposition are a disgraceful testament to what politics has become in this country.

Back on subject, i fully agreed with Darlings answer that Irving should respect the laws of the country he is guest in, however daft they seem to us.

"Passing Thru: "But the fact remains, democratisation WASNT the reason given when went to war. If darling or Blair, or Cameron believe that imposing democracy is reason enough for war, then there are many other countries we could declare war against."

It was one reason, though... alongside getting rid of a monster and removing someone who had the capacity to threaten the security of the region and the west. The reasons - taken together - added up to a good case for removing Saddam. Too much was made of the existence of WMDs, I agree. The real issue on WMD was Saddam's history of using them and his ability to produce them.

Editor....er,no it wasn't.I'm sure you remember '45 minutes' just as well as I do.We've dicussed Iraq ad nauseum on this blog and it's probably pointless to do so again but the fact that Blair (and Campbell) told a pack of lies to encourage parliament and the country to back him in this war seems a FACT and not a matter of opinion.

My tuppence-worth: I was expecting a poor performance from Theresa Villiers last night, so was pleasantly surprised when she confounded my expectations to begin with.

Then, of course, the Irving issue came up and she completely went to pieces - constantly looking down at her notes, rambling and getting increasingly strident by the second.

The penny dropped when she revealed a large proportion of her constituents are Jewish.

Quite frankly, it takes a really special effort to make Nigel Farage look like the most impressive politician in any context, but Theresa and the uninspiring Alastair Dalek pulled it off with aplomb.

G-d, how insane are these people? Villiers defending the crazy Austrians who jail someone for their bloody *opinion*?

With this my enthusiasm for the Boy King and his courtiers sinks to a new low.

"Then, of course, the Irving issue came up and she completely went to pieces - constantly looking down at her notes, rambling and getting increasingly strident by the second."

DVA, I have to agree, it was very uncomfortable to watch.

Im likely to face a hail of criticism but I agree with Villiers. It doesnt matter how ridiculous the law might be, if you break it then you should face the consequences. In Austria, debate about the Holocaust and the dark history of Germany is dumbed down because its extremely sensitive and discussion might encourage neo-Nazi elements in Austria and Germany. Much like Abu Hamza and other radical clerics preaching in Britain might encourage radical Muslims to take up arms.

No one disputes, James, that if you break the law you must pay the price and, to a large extent, Irvine was the author his own misfortune by being arrogant/stupid enough to re-visit the scene of the crime, as it were.

The point is whether it's a sensible law. You can't actually legislate to stop people thinking these things and, arguably, by criminalising the expression of them, you show you're scared of the debate. Far better to flush these loonies into the open, make them justify their holocaust denying nonsense and blast them with the overwhelming evidence of it having happened.

I also think it makes us seems scared of them, as if, somehow, we need the protection of the law or we'd be overwhelmed by them. I say, bring it on! The more people see of the fascists the less they'll like them.

Its a double edged sword, giving extremists the oxygen of publicity like that. It could either go well and the extremists look stupid and the public reject them or alternatively, some people (most likely those with a problem with society) might find the extremists an attractive proposition. The NF, BNP and other far right groups would find support. Im not entirely sure how things work in Austria and the state of play regarding the far right there.

I think I'm going to switch to UKIP. The "Tory" party really are losing the plot...

Malcolm, we have had this debate many times! Yes it is FACT that Blair lied to the country to gain support for his war. It didn't work, the majority of the country, like yourself, never supported it. He didn't even get parliamentary support in his own party!
But the editor has a point. Any ethical foreign policy would argue that it regime change was a correct and valid reason for going to war. One could even argue (though I wouldn't, Blair did it because Bush told him to) it was a courageous move on Blair's part when he had such little parliamentary or public support.
The war WAS based on a lie. Fact. It does not logicaly follow that the war was/is wrong.

George Bush's premise for war was regime change as his primary goal. Blair was too scared to use this as the reason for war and so caused a 6 month delay on going to war (during which God knows where the WMD went) and then he argued that WMD was the reason for war. Bush was honest, Blair was deceitful. That said, the war was right and we should finish the job.

"Theresa is entitled to her opinion and it's a bit odd for defenders of free speech to deny her right or harp on her being isolated-isn't that why we have free speech, so no matter how unpopular a view may be it is still aired to challenge the rest of us."

I am opposed to the state imposing legal limits on free speech. I am not opposed to people telling someone to shut up for saying something stupid.

"In Austria, debate about the Holocaust and the dark history of Germany is dumbed down because its extremely sensitive and discussion might encourage neo-Nazi elements in Austria and Germany. Much like Abu Hamza and other radical clerics preaching in Britain might encourage radical Muslims to take up arms."

I am now going to risk opening myself to a hail of criticism by saying I don't even approve of limits on incitement to hatred or violence. As far as I'm concerned, if you commit an act of violence against someone that is your fault and your fault alone. Some demagogue making you feel angry about certain people is no excuse. I don't believe that Nick Griffin or Abu Hamza should have been put on trial. They should just have been laughed at, debated with or ignored. We may not like hearing horrible things but we're not in the school playground in need of the protection of teachers anymore.

"George Bush's premise for war was regime change as his primary goal. Blair was too scared to use this as the reason for war and so caused a 6 month delay on going to war (during which God knows where the WMD went) and then he argued that WMD was the reason for war. Bush was honest, Blair was deceitful. That said, the war was right and we should finish the job."

Donal, spot on. Total agreement.

I was also watching an interesting debate on Sky News on Monday morning including Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance. He made the point that despite being effectively a prisoner of conscience, David Irving will probably not have the support of the likes of Amnesty International or Liberty. I wonder why?

Richard, that pre-supposes that Irving really believes that there was no Holocaust, and not that he was using this ridiculous crap for poilitical ends. If that is the case, then the man clearly has a very loose grip on reality, and should be in an asylum, not a prison.

I'm not arguing that he should have been jailed - doing so only helps his vile viewpoints - but no one can seriously call him a prisoner of conscience!

"I'm not arguing that he should have been jailed - doing so only helps his vile viewpoints - but no one can seriously call him a prisoner of conscience!"

The fact is that this law is politically biased i.e it is aimed at members of the far right. Irving is being targeted because his beliefs are unpopular. Yes, he may be deliberately lying about the holocaust for the sake of a political agenda but he has a right to pursue that agenda without facing prison. If he is willingly deceiving people about the holocaust then he should be accused of fraud.

So we agree?
If he is willfully persuing a deceit then he should be prosecuted for fraud, I'll accept that.
He should have the right to pursue his political agenda without facing jail, I'll also accept that.
Would you accept that he he really believes that there was no holocaust, then he should be in a mental institution?

We can't go around sectioning people under the Mental Health Act because they believe things that all intelligent, rational people know to be bollocks.

We'd have to start with my mum, on the basis of her strange belief in the wisdom of Mystic Meg...

"Would you accept that he he really believes that there was no holocaust, then he should be in a mental institution?"

No, that's the sort of thing the Soviets used to do. You could argue that anybody who believes in something seemingly absurd (like horoscopes) should be in a mental institution.

People have a right to believe things that are obviously wrong to everyone else. They should only be put in asylums if they have a clearly recognised medical condition attested to by a professional doctor.

I would defend freedom of speech, but draw the line at clear incitement to violence. It is also true that you should observe the law of the country you are in.

People must be free to state their beliefs, short of inciting violence. This seems to me to accord with conservative philosophy of allowing individual freedom. Clearly Austria, and many other countries are not as free as we are. It is sad that our own long cherished freedoms are now under attack. I was dismayed by Theresa Villiers' views. I was also impressed by Nigel Farage who has grown in stature. I wonder if he will challenge for the UKIP leadership. By staying with UKIP he will be a big fish in a small pond. I think he should jump into the Tory pond where he could do much better.

The two posts above regarding horoscopes and Mystic Meg are completely fair, and I concede defeat.
It does beg the question why we never see the headline "Psychic Wins Lottery".

Two points:

(1) Theresa Villiers is worryingly inept. Her appearance on "Question Time" and recent appearances on the Today programme have shown her to be incapable of conveying even the simplest message. If the leadership does feel the need to promote women in order to demonstrate its inclusivity, it could at least try to find ones who are the right side of competent/imcompetent divide.

(2) David Irving shouldn't be in prision. He should be a national laughing stock with his reputation in tatters - as indeed he was after he lost the Lipstadt libel trial.

There are only three reasons for Holocaust denial: stupidity, credulity, and evil. Irving falls into the latter camp. He is not someone who revises history because the evidence supports his view, he's someone who revises history despite the overwhelming evidence that he's wrong.

It's far better to let people like him air their arguments, and then demolish them (as happened when he defended himself at the Lipstadt libel trial), than it is to give him the air of martyrdom.

James
Nearly found myself agreeing with everything you said except for first point. I don't think it's incompetence I think it's in-experience. Some people are naturally good on TV or Radio but most aren't (hesitations are highlighted, you don't have time to think, conversation isn't natural as you rarely face inquisitors on a daily basis).

Blair now appears in command at QT - he was hopeless to start with even against Major. He is now comfortable on TV, he used to nearly stammer when faced with a tough question (so went for the Richard & Judy school of interview rather than Newsnight). He still fears a debate with opposition leaders because he isn't actually that good at thinking on his feet - so will often go back to familiar mantras. But he has learnt how to appear comfortable and sound like he's conversing, not sitting under the spotlight undergoing interragation.

Our selected 'spokesmen' - the ones CCO puts up when asked for a Tory viewpoint - lets put them through intensive training. Not on avoiding questions but just at learning to be at ease, parry when necessary, plan ahead and look for the obvious traps. Even simple things like how to fit the microphone, tone of voice can help.

Tony Blair had obvious qualities which compensated for his nervousness at QT. What does Theresa Villiers have (apart from the right gender)?

Our selected 'spokesmen' - the ones CCO puts up when asked for a Tory viewpoint - lets put them through intensive training.

There is a problem with a lot of our spokesmen in that they seem incapable of answering the simplest questions.

Two obvious offenders are Andrew Lansley and Oliver Letwin, both of whom are seeminly unable to predict even the most obvious counter-questions. For instance, when speaking about the NHS it's likely that any talk of reorganisation would be spun as "sacking Doctors and nurses", but when I've seen this put to those gentlemen they always seen taken by surprise (indeed at this point Letwin usually panics and pledges spending increases).

Villiers isn't even in that league, however. I've heard or seen her on quite a few programmes now, and she seems uniquely capable of turning an open goal into an own goal. Her performance on the Today programme when responding to Brown's bogus efficiency gains, was so dire I lost track of what the point was supposed to be...

Nearly found myself agreeing with everything you said

Well, there's a first time for everything...

I too have seen Theresa Villiers speak before, and was suitably impressed, but I was amazed by her rant on Question Time.

Nigel Farage and Art Malik were the only credible speakers.

Nigel, of course, has truth on his side. No wonder Alistaire Darling didn't want to answer about lbs and oz being made a criminal offence. Perhaps Metric Martyrs denial could be made a criminal offence?

Theresa Villiers is clearly very out of her depth, not just on Question Time but also in the House of Commons. Her performance on Question Time was truly awful. It might be a good idea of she were to spend some more time on the back benches and let some more experienced MPs speak for our party both on Question Time and at the despatch box.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

#####here####

Categories

ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:
      Name:
      Email:
      Subscribe    
      Unsubscribe 

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker