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Against the grain
Aggressive interruption of unpopular views


July 12, 2005

On Friday (8 July) the Respect MP George Galloway was in the BBC Newsnight studio to explain a statement he had made about the terrorist attacks on Londoners who, according to him, had "paid the price" of Britain's role in Iraq. The presenter, Gavin Elser, barely let him speak so I wrote in to complain.

Dear Gavin

I watched your interview with George Galloway last night and wondered why if he was not going to be allowed to speak he was invited to in the first place. Would it not have been better if you had made your own little speech instead?

I don't remember Nick Griffin, a Nazi, getting such treatment when you last interviewed him.

Peyvand Khorsandi

Dear Peyvand

I think if you watch the interview back -- it is available on the Newsnight website -- you will see that Mr Galloway was given a considerable amount of time to speak. I don't recall the precise timings but I expect he had about four minutes in total which would be more time than the two other guests who followed him. Thanks for writing.

Gavin Esler

Dear Gavin

Thanks for your e-mail. The viewer should be convinced on first viewing that the interview was fair without recourse to the website.

Galloway may have had more airtime than the other guests but this was used to splutter a response to one aggressive interruption before the next one arrived.

Kind regards
(for the record not a Muslim or Respect voter)

Dear Peyvand

I only suggested you look at it again to be quite sure that I was polite throughout though -- I admit -- very insistent on pursuing Mr Galloway over whether it was right at a time of a grave national tragedy to tell us that Londoners "paid the price" for not listening to his views on Iraq and Afghanistan. These are matters on which people can disagree, but I do notice that staunch opponents of the Iraq war -- Ken Livingstone for example and the Lib Dems -- repudiate the idea that Londoners "paid the price" in such a way. Thank you for writing.


Dear Gavin

I have no wish to give a seasoned professional tips on how to do his job, but I dispute the notion that there is a "right time" for voicing opinions that go against the grain. If there is, which day and what time would it have been acceptable for Galloway to make those remarks?


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To Peyvand Khorsandi

Peyvand Khorsandi



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