The BBC is filming a Question Time panel that will discuss the war in Afghanistan. Anti-war campaigners were not happy that only two of the five panel members were anti-war (boohoo) so they pressured BBC into getting a 6th member for the panel (which they normally do NOT do for this show). The original panel included:
Bill Rammell, the Armed Forces Minister; Sir Richard Dannatt, the former Chief of the General Staff, who is now a Tory defence adviser; William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary; Piers Morgan, a fierce critic of the Iraq war when editor of the Daily Mirror, and Salma Yaqoob, leader of Respect and a Birmingham City councillor.
Now added to the panel is Lord Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats.
What is most disturbing about this panel is not who is in it or why, but where it is being filmed. The Times reports:
Filming the show in Wootton Bassett, where residents routinely line the streets in their hundreds to receive fallen soldiers, has already proved highly controversial, with the town’s mayor complaining that the BBC would “cheapen the whole repatriation efforts to use it for political effect”.
The debate is likely to be acutely political, especially after the number of members of the armed forces to lose their lives in Afghanistan reached 100 earlier this week. The repatriation of Acting Sergeant John Amer, the 99th servicemen to be killed, took place yesterday.
For my 'foreign' readeres - Wootton Bassett is where the bodies of British soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are repatriated. I agree with the mayor. This does cheapen repatriation efforts and it is like spitting on the coffins of the outstanding men and women who have died serving their country. The BBC should be ashamed, not for having this panel, but for where they have chosen to film it - but they won't be. Likely someone is getting a pat on the back right now.