Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Jacqui Smith's ban backfires

I seem to be posting a lot about Jacqui Smith at the moment. I don't fancy her or anything honest! She just seems to be doing a lot of stupid things lately.

Her latest wheeze to ban the contraversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders from entering the UK to promote an anti-Islamic film seems totally wrong headed as usual. Before a day or two ago, I had never heard of Wilders. If he had been allowed to come into the UK quietly and get on with what he wanted to, invited by a UKIP peer to the House of Lords to show his film, then I am sure his activities would have been reported in the news. It would have been maybe 3 or 4 in the running order of the headlines for one day. Instead, thanks for Jacqui Smith's political incompetence Wilders' boat has been all over our screens and his voice on the radio for the last 24 hours. Today on the BBC News channel it was the top story with a live interview from the airport with him, a reporter standing outside Heathrow and constant rolling "updates" on what was happening as well as an interview with David Milliband on the subject.

I suspect as well that now lots of people will download his film and watch it (far, far more than would have done).

Wilders is clearly a master at playing the media. He knew he would not get into the UK when he arrived at Heathrow but clearly saw it as a great opportunity to get a lot of free publicity. Smith and her moribund government have played right into his hands.

The only way to deal with people like Wilders is to engage with the debate that they provoke. How could Smith not see this coming and when will she realise that trying to ban things like this just makes it worse in the end?

There has been a fair bit of other blog reaction on this today too.

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