Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gillian Gibbons

When British Prime Ministers go abroad and a big story breaks at home, the press pack routinely use press conferences to ask awkward questions that have no connection with the foreign visit. The foreign leader looks embarrassed and uncomprehending. I like this. Last night on Newsnight an unpleasant Sudanese diplomat was defending the arrest of Gillian Gibbons. There was a discussion in which the diplomat exhibited infuriating, fatuous complacency and then it was over. Something was missing. On the principle of the awkward question asked at an inappropriate moment, Jeremy Paxman should have said, 'While we have you in the studio, when is your goverment going to stop colluding with the genocide in Darfur?' 


  1. In the normal run of events, I would agree with you. But in this instance, that cove gave a rather sinister impression. Something cold war about this whole thing. But without the realpolitik. Leaving the entire focus on the girl.
    That feeling of real danger for another rarely crosses the TV in to the living-room. Paxman would need to be made of stone not to have been aware of it.

  2. "When you Westerners stop colluding with teddy bears to subvert Islam in my country."

  3. Oddly, I saw that just after hearing a woman from Africa Confidential on The World Tonight explaining very crisply that this whole business is just another case of the Sudanese regime exploiting a situation to tell its perceived enemies (i.e. us) to back off and leave it alone to get on with the genocide. Paxo seemed pretty lame after that.

  4. Excellent thought Appleyard. I loved the 'teddies are not part of our culture' line the Sudanese peddled. He's being called in for a little chat with the Gap Year Foreign Secretary- who I safely predict- won't tell him that all British aid/investment to Sudan will be cut off in 24 hours if this unfortunate teacher is not released unharmed.

  5. Yes but...I'd love someone to ask a UK minister speaking on any foreign policy issue about why we collude so closely with Saudi Arabia, home of the bin Ladens, 16 of the 9/11 suicidalists and Wahhabi Islam but we invade Iraq and threaten Iran. We need Saudi oil and their defence contracts that it? Doesn't it look super-hypocritical to everybody else for us (gap year foreign ministers included) to adopt high moral tones? Can Captain B provide an answer?

  6. Has anyone heard if the boy who actually named the teddy bear (after himself) has been charged as well? As for Paxman, Bryan, what are the odds that he agreed to ground rules in order to get that diplomat to appear on the show? Rather common here in the US, I hear, but don't know if it is standard practice in the UK.

  7. >Just one last question,< Jeremy Paxman said, >When is your government going to stop colluding with the genocide in Darfur?<

    >Buggered if I know!< The Sudanese ambassador favoured Pax with a seedy smile. >And so far as flogging women is concerned, it may be wrong, but it is very exciting!<.

    Paxman looked him over: >I can appreciate the anticipation and marvel at the display, but it’s not a thrill I value as highly as some others.<

    The ambassador grunted. >Look, let's keep this civilized!< He spoke without haste. >Applying it to the rear doesn’t encumber movement or, more importantly, lead to premature ejaculation. It's a question of professional pride, you know.<

    >A tough racket,< Paxman said in a tight little voice.

    >Terrible,< the Ambassador replied, his face burning with predatory ardour.

    Paxie, now raised himself to full height and - the arrogant lift of his brow seemed instantly familiar - denounced public flogging as an infringement of Magna Carta.

    >Well, some people are a bit squeamish,< the ambassador returned. >Nothing effectual can be done in cases of this sort, you understand. Not without considerable risk to public moral. Excessive clemency in such cases is counterproductive. You see, public flogging always has a stirring effect on men’s libido. Some jerk off in as little as three minutes.<

    Paxman licked his lips. >You timed it?<

    While Gillian Gibbon’s conviction would certainly be regarded as unsafe in the context of English criminal law, it is almost impossible to apply modern standards to a trial that takes place in 632 AD. Or let me put it this way: Islamic fundamentalism is a creed that has evolved from the mores of 7th century Arabia to a grenade’s throw from the British Houses of Parliaments. And while in general I agree and concur with many of the aims of political appeasement, it is time to conceded that the label equality of cultures has been fouled with opportunism, religious sentiment, political correctness and plain stupidity to the extent where it is morally and politically bankrupt.

    That’s evolution!

  8. In case you don't read the news, here is the verdict: 15 days and deportation!

    I am going to get my own back. Can someone, please, bring me a teddy bear....

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