The Plastic Hippo

December 13, 2014

Question Time with Jerry Springer

Filed under: History,Media,Politics,Society — theplastichippo @ 2:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,
Via bbcqt

Via bbcqt

I stopped watching BBC Question Time months ago because it had become simply too annoying but, after all the fuss, I watched the latest pantomime on I-player. I was annoyed by about four minutes in but the irritation at what now passes for political debate evaporated to be replaced by a profound sense of gloom at what UK politics has become.

Back in 1979, with Thatcher only four months into her stay at Number 10, it must have seemed a good idea to put Any Questions on the telly. The format of having three politicians plus a notable academic or newspaper editor or religious leader taking unseen questions from “members of the public” ticked a lot of news and current affairs boxes in the BBC Charter. With Robin Day holding the good and the great to account, it made for interesting viewing. Although annoyingly pompous, Robin Day stuck to his rule of only asking the same question three times and leave the audience to judge the unwillingness of a politician to deliver an answer.

In 1998, with Blair about a year into his stay at Number 10, independent media company Mentorn started producing the programme and began to change the format. The good and the great increased to five and worthy professors, journalists and bishops were slowly replaced by professional controversialists with a thin veneer of intellectual credibility covering a molten core of outrageous bigotry. When Mentorn successfully retained the franchise, left-wing comedians and entertainers were added to the mix not in the pursuit of political balance but in the shameless desire to boost viewing figures.

Dark rumours of manipulation, particularly involving the choice of panellists, audience selection and editorial guidelines on which questions would be allowed have dogged Question Time since the very beginning. At the start, with a two party system and the Liberals reeling from the Thorpe trial, it was a straight fight between two grey men in suits. To conform to strict impartiality, the audience had to reflect a balanced cross-section of the electorate and questions were chosen on the basis of relevance and topicality. How times have changed.

Until very recently, it seems rather odd that not a single member of the QT audience asked a question about the NHS. Some months ago, when taking a supplementary comment from the crowd, Mr Dimbleby, formerly of the Bullingdon Club, tersely said: “we`re not going to talk about the NHS”. As for the audience reflecting the electorate, it would seem that selection is based on people who are likely to shout a lot in favour of one party and shout even louder against other parties and in so doing boost ratings.

Before I stopped watching it, I found it more entertaining to spot the caricatures in the audience bussed in from central casting. There would be an old bloke in a blazer hating Europe; a slightly hysterical woman with dyed hair and piercings too young to remember Thatcher bleating about Thatcher. There would be a nervous “professional” complaining that after 20 years working in the same boring job they have not seen any improvement in their job prospects and there would some clean-cut young man in a tie blaming government for not allowing him to be a millionaire or have a girlfriend. Incidentally, any young man who wears a tie at any occasion other than a job interview, a court appearance or a funeral needs to be viewed with deep suspicion.

As usual I might be complete wrong, but over the last four years it seems that the only person to appear on QT more than Dimbleby is the odious Farage creature or his equally obnoxious lieutenants. I stopped watching the programme before his party gained a couple of MPs through defection so I guess his appearances are now more significant than those of Caroline Lucas. For all his blindingly obvious faults and hypocrisy, the Kipper-in-Chief has achieved something quite remarkable. He has split the Conservative Party and forced the Labour Party to abandon its core principles. By inventing a completely bogus threat to society he has engineered a toxic zeitgeist where people are frightened by immigration because people have been told that people are frightened by immigration. When confronted with evidence that migration to and from the UK benefits the economy, he dismisses facts as being irresponsible lies.

Complicit in this repeat of horrific history is a media desperate for circulation. The BBC shamelessly promoted the confrontation between the Farage creature and the equally unpleasant Russell Brand as if it were a rumble in the jungle boxing match. Viewing figures soared; job done. It was like watching a fight between cancer and Ebola knowing that both would win.

There was one particularly chilling moment that made me realise that the Farage creature`s plan is working. Based on a report published that very day, an audience member said that immigrants should be vetted to exclude criminals. She said that we should not allow “rapists and murderers” UK citizenship. Her fear seems perfectly reasonable until you consider the facts of the report. It looked at 150 cases and found that three per cent of those had a dubious past. As was widely reported across all media, one individual had stabbed another person to death. We will never know the circumstances of that event in terms of possible self-defence in a rogue state, a conflict zone or perhaps an attempted rape, but the inference is that all immigrants are rapists and murderers. As politicians are so fond of saying:

Let`s be clear…one individual.

On BBC Question Time a shouting match ensued worthy of Jerry Springer. Great for viewing figures but not good for the future. As the white, working class hurled insults at each other; Nigel leant back in his chair and smiled.

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