The Futility Monster

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

Whither Question Time?

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 28, 2010 @ 12:08

I wonder how many more years our David has left in him...

In the latest in my Bill Withers instalments, today I turn my attention to that venerable institution, BBC One’s Question Time.

I’m not particularly interested in whether the coalition refuses to debate alongside Alistair Campbell, for the simple reason that the answer is obvious: the BBC is right, and the coalition are extremely stupid to think they can dictate the terms of engagement. If it is true that David Laws refused to appear because of Campbell, then I’m embarrassed for my government.

But the real reason that made me want to write this post is that something is seriously amiss about the programme in these days of coalition.

I enjoyed last night’s show because of the interplay between Campbell, Piers Morgan and Max Hastings. They had a great deal of banter, and some fantastical allegations were launched at each other. A real dogfight. Campbell and Morgan on the Iraq War also made for good television.

Meanwhile, John Redwood and Susan Kramer, for the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, had a love-in.

That’s not right. Not right at all.

Throughout the programme, it was hard to differentiate between the two. They were both extremely loyal, and you could barely slide a cigarette paper between their answers.

Who’d’ve thought that, eh? One of the Conservatives most uppity backbenchers, combining forces with someone who isn’t even an MP any more, and therefore is free of the party whip. And they agreed with each other continuously.

I know the coalition is in early days, and power is the glue holding everyone together, but it seems right now it’s hard to get an independent thought out of anyone. Unfortunately, turning everyone into robotic drones parroting the party line is not remotely “new politics”. It’s the same old New Labour spin machine, prepped with pre-packaged soundbites and talking points, only now expanded across two parties.

I quipped to one of my friends the other day that I guess I must have missed the party merger…

Question Time is going to have to decide. If the Tory and Lib Dem representatives are going to continue having a love-in, neither wanting to say something different because they could jeopardise the coalition, then there is no point having both of them on there. That would then reduce the panel to four. No doubt they could then squeeze on an extra celebrity. They seem to love doing that these days.

People may pretend they want their politicians to agree (just so long as those pols agree with what “the people” apparently think), but agreement makes for a boring 60 minutes of television.

During this government, which will be the most centrist in British history, it’s going to be important for Question Time, and other political TV/radio shows, to highlight that other opinions really do exist, and are just as legitimate as the hegemonic Lib-Con coalition.

Otherwise, people might resume wondering whether politics is worth bothering with…

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One Response to “Whither Question Time?”

  1. The Druid said

    Nah, I disagree. The point of politics isnt to ensure QT is good television. It is to sort out the problems in the country. To that end, I am happy to see Tories and LDs agreeing, as long as I also agree. Which I tended to – I dont think they were asked anything especially contentious to be fair.

    Dont you worry though. For those whose interest in politics is predominantly gladiatorial, the rows will start in due course. You should enjoy the harmony while it lasts.

    Tories and LDs represent entirely different constituencies of people and schools of thought. It is important to have both on there.

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