Watched about five minutes of Question Time last night and then decided to read a few blogs instead for no better reason than the fact that Michael Winner gets right on my tits.
He’s not quite the worst ‘celebrity’ guest to appear on the show, that dubious honour goes to an appearance a while back by Patti Boulaye who managed to preface every answer she gave with ‘Well, as a Christian…’ - the production team must have forgotton to remind her that she was on a political discussion programme and not Songs of fucking Praise.
All of which made me think that is about time that QT’s producers starting thinking a little more innovatively about who to put in the ‘not a politician but may be interesting’ slot on the panel.
More often than not it’s the guest non-politician who turns out to be best - and sometimes only - reason that its worth tuning in, especially when, these days, the number of politicians capable of carrying the show to an interesting debate seems to be rapidly diminishing. There are still a few who are eminently watchable; Boris - ain’t that the height of celebrity when only your first name’s needed - Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone, and the few others who remain capable of exhibiting that they have a mind of their own, but otherwise most of what we get seems to be the same old official party line stuff which means that, for the most party you can predict what the majority of panelists are going to say as soon as he question’s asked.
In fact, there is far more quality political discussion and debate to found out here in the blogosphere than is ever seen on the vast majority of QT’s shows.
So, isn’t it time that we saw our first blogger sat in the ‘not a politician’ seat - and I mean a real bona fide blogger, not a politician, academic, writer or journalist who happens to have picked up on blogging, but one of us.
Let’s face it there’s plenty to choose from, all of whom would, I’m sure, give a damn good account of themselves - take any of the regular contributors to the Sharpener for starters, either of the Tim’s (Ireland and Worstall), and , when visting Northern Ireland, the good folks at Slugger O’Toole offer a choice of ten ‘possibles’ who could easily enliven the show. I could name quite a few more were I at home with my full rack of RRS feeds to go from and, what the hell, even I’d be game despite having a ‘look’ far more suited to radio.
Blogging is certainly showing signs that its starting to make inroads into the mainstream - not only do a number of the ‘qualities’ now track what’s going on out here but, increasingly, we’re seeing references to the work of a range of bloggers popping up in - so far - mainly op-ed pieces. And there’s been enough interest for the press to speculate as to when British blogging might generate its first ‘Rathergate’ style evisceration of a public figure - I think this unlikely due to the UK’s pernicious libel laws, but you never know - as if that will be the big breakthrough from British blogging.
Personally, I think we should set our sites on something a bit less ambitious - and risky - and a blogger as a panelist on Question Time would be just the kind of modest breakthough to announce our arrival in the mainstream as not so much a force but as a legitimate and valid arena for political discussion and debate.
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