A proper duel
That was a duel, a ‘political’ duel? Don’t make me laugh! Our leading politicians don’t know wha a ‘political duel’ is – they haven’t needed to ever since the EU liberated them from the onerous work of deciding policies for our country.
Yesterday’s “debate” between Johnson and Corbyn on ITV was a waste of time and resources. Worse, the MSM exacerbated this hour of utter inanity and boredom in today’s online papers, forcing everybody and their great-aunt Edna to write their ‘verdict’. So far, you’ll be glad to hear, no dead cats have been discovered on the nation’s tables.
As for Brexit … oh dear. Johnson used the B-word promoting his ‘deal’ while asking Corbyn about his plan. Thankfully someone counted and came up with the information that Corbyn dodged that question nine times … (link). Phew.
The rest of this encounter – you really couldn’t call it a ‘debate’, never mind ‘a duel’ – went according to script: for Corbyn, the NHS. He demeaned himself by talking about a friend of his who died in A&E. Against Johnson: ‘trust’ in politics. It ended with the hugely important political question of what they would give each other at Christmas! Corbyn would give Johnson a novel by Charles Dickens so he could see how dreadful ‘austerity’ is. Johnson would give Corbyn a pot of marmalade and the text of his ‘Deal’ … yes, that’ll decide floating voters to vote for one or the other!
Our beloved social media addicts were quick with their thumbs and came up with a ‘snap poll’, giving the verdict of 51 for Johnson v 49 for Corbyn (tweet). I don’t know what they were watching. Nigel Farage tweeted the clear winner was … Ms Etchingham, the moderator. Well, not really. The general opinion (‘embarrassing’) amongst the friends who watched was that the winners were those who hadn’t watched.
The first part finished on the most cringe-worthy scene I’ve seen on a TV “debate”. Not even Miliband’s stumble at the end of that debate in 2015 comes close. Ms Etchingham first asked them both for a pledge! To stop the ‘toxic’ debates and general atmosphere in the HoC! And then … omigawd! She forced them to shake hands, as if they were two naughty schoolboys and she was the head teacher. You can watch the video clip here, if you must.
And that brings me to my critique of the whole shebang. These TV ‘debates’ are no proper debates, they are a vehicle for our deluded MSM journalists to promote themselves as final arbiters of what we the voters should think.
The ‘format’ allows them to have something called ‘audience participation’: some mug is allowed to read their question from a little piece of paper – a question which has of course been preselected by the show producers, as has, of course, the audience. Nothing must be left to proper spontaneity. When the ‘referee’, in this case Ms Etchingham, tells the watching ‘public’ that the two contestants don’t know which questions have been selected, you know immediately that the thing has been rigged.
True politics aficionados have sussed this already, by watching the BBC’s ‘Question Time’ every week where this sort of thing has been going on for years. We also remember the ‘debate’ between the Tory leadership contestants where a discredited imam was wheeled out just so he could ask about ‘institutionalised islamophobia’ in the Tory Party.
Yesterday was no different. We had the obligatory question about anti-semitism in Labour and Corbyn was well-prepared for that, reeling off his answer that he hates racism in all its forms: surely a win for him?
Corbyn repeatedly went on about how he wants to ‘bring people together’ and how important it is ‘to listen to them’. One wag remarked that yes, it’s important and the answer by ‘the people’ will be binned after five seconds. Nobody asked – not that the producers would have let them – why Corbyn doesn’t listen to the wish of 17.4 million people … Here is a summary:
“It was meant to be the first big debate of this election campaign, it didn’t really feel like a debate at all. It simply never got going. In fact, it wasn’t allowed to. Throughout, the moderator, Julie Etchingham, kept butting in to cut the two leaders short (“Thank you, Mr Johnson! Thank you, Mr Corbyn!”), and so they rarely if ever got beyond the soundbites they’d come armed with. In the end, it felt like little more than a rushed, bullet-point digest of both sides’ slogans.” (paywalled link)
Just so – but that, I believe, is the aim of these TV set-ups. It’s not about getting answers to inconvenient questions, it’s about making the TV referee, a.k.a. presenter, look good. It’s about making us watching plebs feel that the politicians on those shows are nothing but bumbling idiots who need to be shown up at every opportunity.
The show producers hope we buy their fake scenes of ‘spontaneity’ and make us forget that the whole thing has been scripted. They surely know what ‘answer’ will come from the Johnsons and Corbyns on a given question! After all, we plebs do!
The show producers’ ultimate aim is to create ‘gotcha’ moments which they hope will make us benighted fools see the light and vote for the party they, the producers, prefer – which is either Labour or LibDem or Green, but never ever Tory, and in this election it’s most certainly not Boris Johnson!
Why do the politicians agree to go on these ‘shows’? Firstly, they all crave the limelight. Any TV exposure is better than none, even if they are made to look foolish: never mind, their spin doctors will correct that impression. None of them want a political debate. Thus it won’t be forthcoming. It’s simply another opportunity for them to peacock about.
Above all, these shows, these ‘debates’, elevate the TV presenters to stand at the pinnacle of politics in our country, or so they fondly believe. With every ‘debate’ show they document that they are ‘better’ than those politicians. See – they can even force them to shake hands because a forced handshake is a win – for the presenter.!
It is par for the course that the one important announcement from Johnson was treated as irrelevancy in this school-room production of how to make politicians ‘behave’ and get them to virtue-signal:
“In one surprising moment Mr Johnson said there would be a social care policy in the party’s manifesto and suggested it would ensure that no one had to sell their home to pay for residential care.” (link, paywalled)
Well – that is surely of interest to all of us! We have to see if it’s of the same ‘Deal’-quality as Johnson’s Brexit ‘Deal’ but it’s something.
I have bad news for you – there will be another such debate, this time on the BBC. It’s on the 6th of December, so you have time to think of something preventing you to watch it.
Fortunately, there’s no Ms Etchingham to tell me ‘Thank you … THANK YOU …. THANK YOU … We’re going to move on”. Indeed, let’s move on. Let’s disdain these fake ‘politics’ shows produced to make us forget what is important: the constant, enduring betrayal of us, the electorate, by the establishment. The MSM and politicians are in cahoots to make us forget. We won’t!
Photo by Bosc d’Anjou