Mariah Idrissi and her mystery ally

The previous three posts featured Oxford Union debate speeches for and against the motion This House Supports No Platforming. Those speeches, herehere, and here followed a couple from students who were competitive debaters.

Today we hear from Mariah Idrissi, speaking for the motion.

She is clearly suffering from severe Hump. One of the fastest and most effective ways of combatting a hump and relaxing yourself is to relax your audience. There are many devices to achieve this, but they do not include the act of telling the audience you are nervous. Idrissi’s opening with a sing-song “No pressure!” is not a good idea. I know she is trying to make light of it, and maybe even get a laugh, but if I were advising her it would be out. She does get a sympathetic chuckle, but sympathy is not what she needs at this moment. She needs respect.

I find it significant that occasional shots of the audience, and other subtle indications, seem to tell us that she has one particular person in front of her who is willing her on, and perhaps even informally coached her and buoyed her up before the debate began. We will return to identify that person later.

Idrissi opens with criticising Katie Hopkins whose speech immediately precedes hers, and then turns to her own. She reads it.

There is no doubt that she worked very hard on this. As a piece of writing it is well constructed, and she has marshalled her arguments with care; but she is not delivering a speech she is a talking head.

In this respect and at this debate she is in good company, Toby Young was also a talking head, but he didn’t give the impression that his script was all that stood between him and drowning. You need only watch her reaction to attempts from audience members to interject to know how little she trusts herself to cope.

I feel very sorry for her. She is obviously very bright, has well-formed opinions – whether or not we agree with them – and should be able easily to command this audience rather than quail before it. I itch to help her.

So who did try to help her? Who is this mystery person that I believe was furiously trying telepathically to urge her on? When her speech closes the camera briefly dwells on one person warmly applauding and smiling her congratulations. You see it at 8:44.

It is the self-proclaimed “biggest bitch in Britain”, the one I called “the rudest person on the planet”. It is Katie Hopkins. She is proving that you can fundamentally disagree with someone without hating them, that we learn by listening to those with differing opinions.

That is why the free exchange of views and opinions is so important.