There's often a connection - a linkage between the big issues of the day. And these vary for each of us. Today my issues have been the appearance of Mr Nick Griffin on Question Time, a Telegraph article by Frank Field and Nicholas Soames, and the AGM of the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, of which I'm a trustee.
Lets start with the thoughts of the co-chairs of the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration. Field and Soames are deeply principled politicians, who have long been willing to discuss immigration publicly. I admire them hugely for this. They talk about the population of the UK (mainly England at this stage) which is growing at an unprecedented rate. Today, the UK population is around 61 million, around 4.5 million more than it was 25 years ago. In the next 20 years, the population is going to grow to 70 million, the bulk of the growth being due to immigration. This post is not about the rightness or otherwise of this change, but about the near absence of any meaningful debate. Don't know about other politicians, but the reason that I'm always very nervous and careful whenever the subject of immigration crops up, is that I'm wary of being misinterpreted. I thought it was an important article.
This absence of debate may well have created an opportunity for the BNP, which has put this issue at the heart of its politics. We've finished up with the BBC giving Nick Griffin the sort of publicity he could only have dreamed of. I don't usually watch Question Time, but I did tonight. My local newspaper asked for my opinion about the BBC decision to invite Mr Griffin. I wouldn't have accepted an invitation to appear myself, but I supported the BBC's decision. Free speech is a fundamental basis of our democracy. But why on earth did the BBC arrange for the whole programme to be based on the BNP's favorite territory. I did not enjoy the programme. Neither did I agree with the panellists that it damaged the cause of the BNP. The antipathy of the audience and the panel gave Nick Griffin the desired level of victimhood that he enjoys. Also, what I cannot understand is the thinking of the protesters - doing exactly what the BNP want them to do. I remember a few years ago, the BNP arranged a 'fun day' at the Griffin's Llanerfyl home in Montgomeryshire. It would have been a total non-event, except that the anti-Nazi League arranged a 'counter rally' in Welshpool. I refused to have anything to do with it, because it was precisely what the BNP were hoping for. Hundreds of police were bussed in, and the town was like a police garrison. Just 20 miles away, a few families met at Llanerfyl with a bouncy castle and a few ice creams and lemonade for the kids.
And then there was tonight's Wildlife Trust AGM. There has never been a greater need for protection of our wildlife and our countryside. And the biggest threat of all is from too rapid population growth. Its my love of the wildlife we share our planet with that leads me to want to be a trustee. Population growth means more houses, more concrete, more demands for energy and less concern for the landscape and for wildlife. These damn connections. And while I'm at it, I'd like to pay tribute to the huge commitment being made by the employed staff of the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, at a time when most charities are under extreme financial pressure. When I think about the grabbiness of some of our politicians, exposed over recent months, the sacrifice being made is humbling. I will try to think about them instead of the depressing edition of QT I've just watched.