Question Time hasn't "bowed" to anti-war pressure

The extra panellist Lord Ashdown is pro-war

The Times claims that Question Time has bowed to pressure from anti-war campaigners by deciding to include Lord Ashdown as an extra (sixth) panellist on its upcoming Afghanistan special.

One slight hitch with this theory is that Lord Ashdown isn't anti-war. He may have made some pointed criticisms of British military strategy, but he remains an unambiguous supporter of the occupation. If anything, he has attacked the government for not prosecuting the war strongly enough, accusing it of "thinking it can win this war on half-horsepower".

If the inclusion of Ashdown is designed to ensure that the largely pro-war panel is more representative of public opinion it won't succeed. A recent poll showed that, unlike Ashdown, 63 per cent of the public support an immediate withdrawal.

It seems more likely that Ashdown has been drafted in to appease angry Lib Dems, bemused that the original panel of five didn't include a single member of their party.


Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Show Hide image

En français, s'il vous plaît! EU lead negotiator wants to talk Brexit in French

C'est très difficile. 

In November 2015, after the Paris attacks, Theresa May said: "Nous sommes solidaires avec vous, nous sommes tous ensemble." ("We are in solidarity with you, we are all together.")

But now the Prime Minister might have to brush up her French and take it to a much higher level.

Reuters reports the EU's lead Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, would like to hold the talks in French, not English (an EU spokeswoman said no official language had been agreed). 

As for the Home office? Aucun commentaire.

But on Twitter, British social media users are finding it all très amusant.

In the UK, foreign language teaching has suffered from years of neglect. The government may regret this now . . .

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.