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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Radio 4's Moral Maze programme this evening debated the apology from the Australian Prime Minister to the former child migrants

The panel pretty well always enrages me.

Claire Fox! Melanie Phillips!

The debate/discussion tonight was about the apology recently made by the Australian Prime Minister to the former child migrants who were taken from Britain and put into state-run homes in Australia where they suffered abuse and neglect. They were lied to, including being told, in some cases, that their parents were dead. They were separated from their siblings. The possessions they arrived with were taken from them.

Many terrible things. Some of the children were as young as five.

Gordon Brown intends to make a similar apology in January.

Now of course, the wrongs those children (and their parents) suffered were not perpetrated by either of those prime ministers or the present governments. And I've read in various places that that makes the apologies meaningless and useless. - But the people that say that are not the people who were harmed, and I feel that if the apology is something that gives some comfort to those who were harmed, then it's not up to someone else to object to it.

But those two women are major bullies on this programme, and Claire Fox in particular was arguing with one of the former child migrants. He was on the phone from Australia. He sounded a nice, level-headed guy. He said he was pleased that the apology had been made. CF kept interrupting him and saying couldn't he see that the apology was meaningless, etc. - The one who couldn't 'see' was CF! (If you want to read the very moving apology it is on this Telegraph webpage.)

If someone who has been grievously harmed, finds some measure of comfort in sincerely spoken words - which I believe they were, and which this guy believed they were - who the Hell is CF to try to talk him out of feeling that small comfort, and, in effect, criticise him for the way he feels?

(I really need to resolve not to listen to this ghastly programme any more. The views expressed by the two women nearly always appal me. Michael Portillo seems to be the most human member of the panel.)

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