Friday, 5 March 2010

Question Time and What to Make of it

It's Make Up Your Mind Time....

In recent years I have not been a great fan of Question Time.

For a start, I frequently go for a pint with some old friends on a Thursday, so I miss it a lot of the time. But when I have seen it, there's been a sort of pent up hatred of politics and politicians, a knee jerk cynicism and  urge to blame that cuts across any reasoned position that the panel might want to take. Perhaps understandable given the events of the last few years with expenses scandals and unpopular wars and recessions. And of course, this emotional-spasm-personal-grudge approach to the issues favours the likes of the Tories and UKIP. It suits them to whip up fear and loathing and keep the focus off their policies, such as they are.

But my wife loves it and when I'm at home it is usually on. So last night I sat down to watch it, but with no real enthusiasm. I was pleasantly surprised. The programme was broadcast from London, and it was actually quite balanced. 

The panel was Boris Johnson (Tory), Carol Voderman (who is quite openly Tory too), Will Self (novelist), Shirley Williams and Andrew Adonis. Even with two Tories and Will Self, who is quite a contrarian and entertaining with it, the audience wasn't led astray, they stuck to the real politics. In fact I would say that the audience was the star of the show.

Boris was trying his old charmimg fool schtick, but it's running a bit thin, and the fool noticeably outweighed the charmer. As for Carol Voderman, not a lot you can say with the libel laws as they are.

Andrew Adonis and Shirley Williams were measured and sensible, and David Dimbleby was revealed as a Buller! Just like Bo and Dave, waddyaknow....?

And there were no knee-jerk anti-government or anti-politics cheers. The audience seemed thoughtful and were certainly not baying for blood. On the Aschroft affair and the Bulger case they were, if anything, more measured than the panel, certainly more measured and intelligent than Carol Voderman.

As I say, the audience was the star: they asked good questions and made good comments and responses, without showing too clearly thieir own political inclinations. The over-all impresion I got was of the public weighing the options and making up its collective mind.

Ten weeks to go and all to play for.... Looking at the polls even three months ago, whodda thunk it?


  1. I'd have said that Will Self was the star actually, especially during the discussion about the Bulger case where he seemed to be more articulate than the so called politicians.

  2. Self is certainly very clever, and he knows it.

    He can make the case from any angle, and frequently does. I'm never sure if he knows what he is going to say until it comes out of his mouth.

    He was good on Bulger, but so were the politicians .. even Boris Johnson managed to get it right (IMO).

    Carol Voderman struggled, but then in a case like the Bulger tragedy, you need a brain and a moral compass, not just a set of received opinions and false confidence.....