The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

The Wit of Geoff Hoon

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 30, 2009 @ 13:19

"Don't like that one? I'll tell you another one. A man walks into a bar..."

"Don't like that one? I'll tell you another one. A man walks into a bar..."

Fear not, loyal readers. This post is not actually about Geoff Hoon. Or, indeed, any attempts to be funny by the man himself.

No. It’s actually a brief reflection on his presence as representative of the government on last Thursday’s edition of Question Time.

And yes, I know I’m a bit late with this. But, such is the beauty of the BBC iPlayer. I’ve been busy all week, and I finally got a chance to see the last episode of the series – which was a slightly better affair than usual thanks to a very decent panel including Shirley Williams – who is always on the money, and George Galloway, who is always great value for money no matter whether you agree with him or not.

Anyway… my point is a fairly simple one. The Question Time audiences are much maligned, and perhaps not a true reflection of the country (after all, only viewers of the programme are likely to volunteer for the audience, and viewers of the programme are likely to be more politically-minded than the average citizen) – but if they are a good representation of one thing, it is very likely to be they do reflect the dwindling percentage of those who actually bother turning out to vote.

I understand the researchers always try their best to balance the audience to make it as fair as possible to all parties, but this relies upon audience applicants declaring their political loyalties correctly. Trusting people, in other words, which is very difficult where politics is concerned – since it’s widely known that party officials and activists are routinely advised to engage with such media: in the same way that most letters about politics in a local paper are from local party members or their connections.

With that context in mind, it would be wise to consider the response of the audience to almost every defence Hoon made of government policy very carefully.

In summary, Hoon’s responses were not merely met with the derision worthy of the man. No. If that were the case it would be reasonable to assume that the country is not very happy with the government right now. That would be understandable. But no…

In fact, most of Hoon’s replies were actually met with laughter. A knowing giggle of incredulity that the man really was trying to justify the unjustifiable, from the defenestration of Ian Gibson MP to the government’s response to swine flu. And, I admit, I too joined in with an amused smirk. It seems like the done thing as far as this government is concerned.

That reaction, above all, is the most shocking. That a government can be treated with so much disdain that we are amused by what they’re trying to do to recuse themselves from such a dire economic and political situation. Perhaps it, too, is a laugh of pity. Or even of sympathy at their predicament.

OK, maybe that’s pushing it a bit far.

But if anything tells me this government is a rotting corpse, it is the dismissive humour in which we treat them: as if the whole thing is just one big joke, and we’re waiting for the punchline…


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