Last night I braved BBC’s Question Time, an hour-long political debate show, to listen to what activist and journalist Paris Lees had to say over the humdrum squabbling of British politicians. PinkNews has identified Lees as QT’s “first transgender panelist”; however, Eddie Izzard, who does identify as trans*, previously appeared on the show in 2005.
Lees was joined by Jeremy Browne MP (Liberal Democrat), Matthew Hancock MP (Conservative), Chris Bryant MP (Labour) and Harriet Sergeant (author and Daily Mail journalist).
In arguing against the privatisation of probation services, Lees shared her story about having been in juvenile prison as a 16-year-old and the need for state resources to continue to support and rehabilitate youth in positions similar to hers. Lees also commented on recent press regulation debates and legislation from her perspective as both a journalist and an activist working for better representation of trans people in the media.
Browne MP: We have a fantastic thing in Britain, which is that we stand up against the over-mighty, we fight back against a hierarchy, and it’s that freedom that the press argues so passionately for.
Lees: The press ARE the hierarchy. We’re talking about 500 of the most elite, pampered, privileged, overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male, overwhelmingly heterosexual old boys’ club that all went to Eton and Cambridge.
Other highlights of the night include Lees volunteering to take Jeremy Browne’s place should he ever step down to make way for a Labour Party actually led by working-class politicians, questioning why anyone’s work would be worth the millions currently on the paychecks of the chief executives of the Big Six gas suppliers, and of course, being dressed for Halloween.
Lees may have described herself as a “slag from a council estate that doesn’t know too much about anything,” but she held her own on the panel alongside seasoned politicians and then some. It was clear that she often carried the crowd’s favour, judging by their applause and the response on Twitter.
The BBC made a good call last night for trans visibility, but don’t worry – lest anyone think QT is getting too progressive for its boots, stay tuned for next week’s episode, in which they’ll be giving a platform to “not racist” UKIP leader Nigel Farage for the fifteenth time.
They’ve had UKIP on fifteen times?! I’ve always wondered where their support comes from.
Just Farage, they may have had appearances from other UKIP members as well but that’s not a thing I’m scrambling to look up right now. He makes good TV. Question Time otherwise tackles thrilling subjects such as railway systems, wind farms (politicians STILL think it’s a point of pride to think they “look nice”??) and which energy company Jeremy Browne uses.
I should qualify that I am actually a massive policy geek and things like these make me very happy in the classroom and workplace, but then I remember that these dudes in suits actually make the big decisions.
BBC invite UKIP members to talk about immigration issues /so much/, they’re just all about unbiased reporting. Of course that also means they hardly ever let immigrants talk about these issues, since we’re so clearly biased about them.
The men in suits are definitely more terrifying. Especially in that staring picture, the two of them look so alike and are in basically the same stance. Halloween level of creepy.
so how do we watch it if we’re in the US and don’t own an i-pad or i-phone? drives me crazy how proprietary british channels are about their shows, without providing ways for people in other countries to purchase them.
That maybe true, but we can’t watch tv/a lot of online content from out of the country either? E.g. Hulu/Daily Show/MTV online and so on. It sucks for everyone.
The BBC does have overseas channels, but un/fortunately Question Time is not one of the shows that are exported. I’ll be honest though: unless you’re deeply familiar with British politics, QT is unlikely to be interesting to you, because they discuss highly specific and often localised policies/bills.
Also! As someone who’s lived outside of the US/UK for most of her life and will likely continue to do so, I can assure you that what you’re describing there is most definitely not a British problem. IP rights! Capitalism! Cultural/media hegemonies! Fun.