Henry Bolton On Question Time
On the 30th of November, in Scarborough, UKIP Leader Henry Bolton OBE made his debut appearance on the BBC’s Question Time. I have reported what he said, accompanied by a little of other people’s dialogue for context.
Audience member Joanne Ribey asked “How far would Donald Trump have to go before our government formally rescinded his invitation for a state visit?” This was regarding Trump’s retweeting of Britain First videos. Yanis Varoufakis was extremely critical of the US President, as were Sam Gyimah MP and Chuka Umunna MP.
Bolton responded “He’s crossed a line perhaps in some people’s minds” and explained that it is not merely the social visit of a personal friend, it is a meeting with the foremost representative of “the world’s largest superpower” which is allied with Britain.
“Britain First, by the way, is proscribed by my own party” he stated. “You cannot join UKIP if you have been a member of Britain First and along with a number of other right-wing parties. However, there is an underlying issue here.” He went on to point out that the popularity and perceived divisiveness of such tweets has a reason.
Host David Dimbleby played dumb in an attempt to coax a controversial comment from our Henry, who continued “Britain First are an outrageous right-wing party,” “which I suspect he didn’t know and I hope that we don’t see this again,” but “people are concerned about a rising tide of Islam in their communities. Now, we cannot ignore that. And I am not anti-Islamic. I have got a lot of Muslim friends.” He was then interrupted and accused of inciting hatred, which he righteously denied.
“There are communities in this country and across the European Union that have concerns about the rate at which their communities are changing” he clarified. “And some international organisations that deal with security and fully recognise…” He was then interrupted again.
Anti-Brexit (and thus undemocratic) Labour MP Umunna exclaimed that he didn’t understand how discussion had gone “from peddling racism, misogyny, hate and carrying on with the pattern of behaviour we see from the President” to the opinions Henry had expressed. (I personally cannot stand Chuka Umunna, but I did not realise that he is so slow-witted that he is incapable of following an obvious and logical oration.)
Sarah Baxter opined that “Henry’s talking nonsense.” She suggested that we “let him come” so that people can protest about his “vile, racist” tweets.
So, another balanced, unbiased BBC panel then? I typed sarcastically.
A woman in the audience, who is a teacher, (many of us know of the institutional left-wing indoctrination that is prevalent in educational establishments) severely criticised the President and said you can’t excuse his behaviour “as Mr Bolton’s tried to do.”
“I’m not excusing it” Bolton replied. He repeated that there is an underlying issue which needs to be addressed but he hopes that we don’t see that from Trump again.
Sam Gyimah criticised the USA’s leader some more and told Henry specifically that “we do deal with extremism in this country” by fighting Daesh abroad. (This does not prevent the actions of “home-grown” terrorists, who are actually foreign infiltrators in many cases.) Sam said we should not “confuse that with inciting hatred, division in our society.”
“I know that Sam, because I’ve done it” Bolton retorted, referring to his service in the British Army. He reiterated that people have concerns about “the rate at which their communities are changing.”
Yanis Varoufakis accused our leader of playing to the public’s worst fears and jumped on the inciting hate bandwagon. I hope the majority of viewers were able to see that Henry said nothing of the sort.
Audience member Leslie Fisher enquired “Which way would the country have voted if they knew the divorce bill would be £50 billion?”
Arch Remainer Umunna seized the opportunity to spout a lot of long-winded anti-Brexit propaganda.
Gyimah said “I think, looking at the polls, people would have voted exactly how they voted.” He stated that he voted Remain, but that he is now committed to delivering the result of the referendum. He also said “it’s patronising to say to the British people that somehow they didn’t go into the referendum with their eyes wide open, that somehow Chuka knows better than all of them.” He then implied that our nation would lose nothing, as we would be paying the EU this money anyway if we retained our membership.
Varoufakis made out that Britain is contractually obligated to pay the EU this money, but that he (a Remainer) thinks Brexit voters were aware of that.
Baxter (another Remainer) surmised that people did not vote for Brexit because of Vote Leave’s bus slogan and that not paying the EU’s bill would be the fastest way to a hard Brexit. She would like the payment to be “contingent on getting a decent deal.” She complained that “a lot of the money” would be used to pay the pensions of “Eurocrats and MEPs”, unfairly singling out Sir Nigel.
Bolton responded that between when the referendum was held and the expected departure date in March 2019, Britain will have already paid 22 billion. “And then there’s the 50 billion or thereabouts” “so that’s 77 billion. And how much further is it going to go up?” He informed us that Philip Hammond has, in the budget, allowed for “3 billion every year with no end date.”
“We gave the government a mandate to negotiate” he continued. “The unfortunate fact of the matter is that our government seems incapable of negotiating.” (For this comment, he actually received a proper round of applause from a BBC audience!) He then criticised “the position papers that have been sent by London to Brussels” saying “there is nothing, nothing concrete in them whatsoever.”
He also orated that “they have no negotiating objectives. It’s not clear what the British government is trying to achieve.” He remarked that “they should have started work on that” immediately after the referendum. “They didn’t. We’ve lost a lot of time. That is a problem for the government and now what the government is doing is trying to move talks on by offering £50 billion.” “That’s the equivalent of about £1,650 on everybody’s income tax bill. And then, to say that this was foreseen, of course it wasn’t foreseen, we didn’t foresee that our government would be so incompetent as to not be able to negotiate any other way.”
Baxter claimed that it was foreseen by the Sunday Times (apparently Britain’s most learned experts on the legality of treaty extrication and trade deals) and “a lot of what we’ve heard since has been pure noise. The EU asked for 90 billion, we said 20, we’re splitting the difference. A lot of this is happening in negotiations behind the scenes by officials, not by politicians.”
“I worked in Brussels for 3 years” Henry responded. “I’ve negotiated for the European Union as well – not against Britain.” The host interrupted him yet again and pressed him to reveal the opposing countries. Bolton refused, but confirmed “2 countries.” “The other day, I met with a very high level European Commission official who is involved in these negotiations and his comment was that they, after years of dealing with a country – Britain – that has always provided good, sound logical common sense in all its dealings with the European Union, has now totally disappointed them. They are dealing with a government that doesn’t know what it’s doing.”
A male audience member said “I would imagine them politicians over in Brussels are laughing at how we’re conducting ourselves. We have voted to leave. We’re going to leave. Get on with it” for which he was applauded.
Another man asked Chuka, in response to the Labour MP moaning about the £50 billion, what it would be spent on so that he could form his own opinion.
Umunna spewed another load of anti-Brexit propaganda, for which he was soundly rebuked by Gyimah, who added “when we come out of the EU, eventually we’ll be paying a lot less to the EU than we do now.” He told Umunna that we should concentrate on getting “the best deal for our country.”
A female audience member, who works in the NHS, claimed that “staff and patients were influenced by the 350 million thing.”
Dimbleby put it to Henry that “Your spokesman on this accused the negotiators, I’ve got it here, of being quislings.”
Henry answered “I wouldn’t put it quite as quislings, no, but I’d like to answer this gentleman.”
“UKIP did” Dimbleby interrupted. “UKIP’s man in charge of this did. You’re the boss of UKIP. Should he withdraw this then?”
“We could tone quislings down slightly. But let me answer this gentleman’s question.”
“Quislings is the same as traitor.” (The host was clearly going after our party while Bolton was trying to answer a voter’s question.)
“Let’s tone that down somewhat. But the point is” “indeed there is some tendency towards that. Because, to answer this gentleman’s question” “some of this £50 billion is going to be spent on” “projects relating to free Wi-Fi in Greek hotels – Sorry Yanis – and” “can you believe it, £450,000” “on projects to challenge Euroscepticism. Now that’s what we’re going to be paying for ladies and gentlemen.” There were groans from the audience in response to this information. (The chief Kipper was very insistent – there was no way anyone was going to prevent him from saying this.) “If we’re negotiating to agree to go forward with paying for things like that, then Gerrard Batten has a point.”
Yanis claimed that we had “already committed to paying for those things, however ludicrous” and must not default. (A Greek politician would say that, obviously.)
“This country’s Government should do exactly what it’s got a mandate to do, take us out” while “defending the interests of this country” by showing “a bit of British steel” Bolton orated.
Baxter replied “Yemen certainly needs our aid.” Talking about Saudi Arabia’s young new leader, Mohammad Bin Salman, she said “This is not a moment to be alienating MBS.” “He says he’s for human rights, particularly for women” but “he’s locking up members of his own house of Saud” “and extorting money off them.”
Dimbleby enquired “Should we be providing 3 quarters of a billion pounds of arms to the Saudi government?”
“This is not the time to make an enemy of Saudi Arabia” Sarah said.
Baxter vocalised her fear that Saudi Arabia would go “in the ISIS-jihadist direction.” “I think it’s better that they remain our ally.”
Varoufakis launched a rant about perpetuating jihadism and a humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
A man in the audience commented “I don’t believe the UK should have any further foreign entanglements in the Middle East – aid, military or otherwise – and I think we should finally withdraw for good from that region entirely.”
Gyimah stated “We have an international role to play for good.” “The UK government does not supply arms to Saudi Arabia.” “There are UK companies that manufacture arms and sell them. Obviously they have export licences that are granted by the government.” (In other words, the government don’t supply the weapons but they allow them to be supplied from Britain.)
Dimbleby questioned whether the government approves of “the weapons that we have sold to Saudi Arabia being used in the Yemen.”
“There are strict terms around the export licences” Gyimah replied. He warned that jobs depend on those weapons sales. He got into an argument with Dimbleby and Varoufakis on the subject and received a lambasting from a female audience member.
Umunna opined “I think there is a big question mark” and “the government should pause and investigate.”
A man in the audience suggested that if we don’t supply weapons to the Saudis, someone else will and they may supply weapons that “may be a chemical nature.” Varoufakis disapproved of this comment.
When Henry was finally allowed to speak on the matter, he asserted “We should not intervene in these places based on past track record.” “The weaponry that we’re providing Saudi Arabia, I mean to equate that, as Sam did, to jobs… it’s lives!”
“We are not good as a country” he continued “in dealing with our interventionist policies and approaches. Iraq, Afghanistan – 2 cases in point. And Afghanistan… the military mission was accomplished in probably about 6 months, a year at most, but we stayed there for years, getting involved in state building in a society and in a political background that we had no understanding of.”
“We have got policies of selling arms to Saudi Arabia and people dying as a result, without any real in depth understanding of what’s going on there and we are complicit therefore in what is going on and the humanitarian disaster. We need to really re-evaluate how we conduct our foreign policy in such scenarios.”
Sam Gyimah denied “equating jobs with lives” and tried to deflect responsibility from the Tories by blaming the Saudi government.
Bolton insisted that by allowing the weapons to be sold, our government has “part of the culpability.”
Fiona Beardsley, of the audience, asked “How would the panel tackle the social deprivation, the high unemployment, the low wages that are being faced by many of our coastal towns in the UK?”
Baxter declared she would “start with looking at education,” claiming that a choice between “a variety of types of schools, free schools, academies etc” would be helpful and “standards need to be raised right from the start.” She talked about a lack of infrastructure and the need for more train lines and HS3. She would also like us to have a Yorkshire Mayor, which was seemingly an unpopular idea.
Dimbleby asked Beardsley what she was driving at, to which the questioner replied “It’s obvious to us in Scarborough” “we face these problems daily.” She complained about a lack of employment opportunities and logistical isolation.
Another man in the audience said “It’s about education. We as a country are short of skilled people.” “When we were at school at 13, 14, our teachers knew how far we could go.” He opined that teachers should be able to tell 14 year old pupils whether they’re “clever enough” to go to university, or they should train to go into trades.
A woman brought up “the 53 billion and rising all the time of HS2” and asked the panel how it will benefit the North East.
Umunna remarked that politics is centred in London and “proper local industrial strategies” are needed. He also suggested that we “end the snobbery in this country that says if you go to university, that is better than becoming an apprentice.”
Another female audience member disagreed with education being the answer. She informed us “I have 3 degrees and today I nearly didn’t get here because I had to travel home from Newcastle, where I work, and the train got delayed.” “It can take me 10 hours on a train to get from here to Cornwall. I can fly to the Middle East in less time than that.” “What’s the point in being educated if you can’t work where you live?”
Varoufakis promoted “strong regional governance.” “I would actually like regional assemblies. I would like a more federal kingdom to emerge and to complete the devolution that Tony Blair left incomplete.” “You have the worst, the most lop-sided geographical imbalances of any major country in the world.” He slated Margaret Thatcher for “a very clear attempt to diminish the organisations of the working class.” He also suggested that we need “a public investment bank.”
Gyimah stated “There is £72 million going towards specific areas in the country, of which Scarborough is one, to help really improve the quality of education.”
Our Leader was urged to be brief before he had even begun to comment on the subject. He orated “The nature of coastal towns is that” half of each one is inaccessible by land. “So to compete with inland towns, they need double the investment for access. The other thing is traditional industries in those areas, in coastal towns have been reduced. What about the fishing industry? Lowestoft for example.” This was met with agreement and applause from the audience.
“The reason that coastal communities are in the state that they are” he asserted “is because successive governments of different colours have been ignoring the concerns of local communities for too long, on everything from infrastructure to jobs to education to the rule of law.”
The same woman who had lambasted Gyimah earlier now yelled a tirade against the government’s aim to propagate fracking.
Another woman in the audience agreed that “the government think they know what’s best for us without asking us.” Her example was railway electrification, which will cause passengers to have to change trains mid-journey.
Dimbleby allowed Vicky Blake to quickly ask “Is Theresa May being mean spirited by not giving the country an extra bank holiday for the royal wedding?”
The host polled the audience on who would like the aforementioned holiday and approximately half raised their hands. He asked the panel and 2 voted in favour – Umunna and our Henry, who emphatically said “Why not?”
In my opinion, Bolton performed impressively despite a hostile panel, host and audience. He argued and publicised our policies and positions proficiently. I was particularly pleased that he pointed out that parties like Britain First are proscribed by UKIP, as I’ve lost count of the occasions when prominent Kippers have missed a chance to do so. His vast experience also enabled him to twice inform viewers that he had participated in the field currently being discussed.
I thought his speaking was really well balanced. He said nothing discriminatory, despite the accusations from his opponents, yet his frank observations should disprove the assumptions of For Britain supporters who have predicted that he will be too left-wing and liberal.
You can watch this episode of Question Time by clicking here to see if you agree with me.