David Dimbleby presided over an understandably heated panel on the BBC's Question Time last night, the first after the Paris attacks.
The panel consisting of The Independent and Evening Standard owner Evgeny Lebedev, Minister for Small Business Anna Soubry, Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham, historian Sir Max Hastings, Al Jazeera journalist Mehdi Hasan and Guardian columnist Natalie Nougayrede were asked whether the UK should engage in “full military action against Isis”, following the attacks in the French capital.
The entire broadcast was fiery, eliciting jeers and pantomime-style booing from the audience, but the exchange between Soubry and Hasan over the relativity of human rights in the Middle East was the most tense.
We have never known anything like Isis. It's not just about what they did in Paris, or what they did with the aeroplane, or in Baghdad, they behead people, they murder people because they are gay.
Hasan retorted that the UK were “close allies with Saudi Arabia” a country which also beheads people, after which Soubry accused him of “apologism” and pointscoring.
And things somewhat devolved:
Hasan defended his point:
It’s not a cheap point Anna, it actually goes to the heart of our policy in the Middle East. You reevaluate what we’re doing in the Middle East: Are we taking the right paths in the various conflicts. Now a bunch of Arab countries are bombing Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East. We are helping them do that, America is helping them do that and tomorrow we’ll be saying why do they hate us?
To which Soubry replied;
You put all this stuff in to muddy the waters.
So Yemen doesn’t matter, only Paris matters? What are you trying to say?
I’m not saying that and you know that Mehdi, you are better than these cheap, political points.
The prime minister is expected to ask parliament to approve expanding UK involvement in the bombing campaign against Isis from Iraq into Syria in the next few weeks.