Looks like I was a little closer to the mark than I realised last night as the BBC are ‘plunged’ into acrimony over the lack of vetting around the hustings show last night. I found their explanations a little hard to follow, particularly in the Imam’s case of making comments on Twitter and then somehow hiding them from scrutiny (how – did he make the account private?), before they came public again. It’s all a bit odd, and only reinforces my gut feeling that the show was too staged and rigged to try to embarrass Boris for its own good.
It hasn’t gone so well for Rory Stewart either today, though, ejected from proceedings after going backwards with the progress he’d made yesterday. I’m not sure his performance last night did him too many favours, along with the slightly strange body language and posture that he adopted for much of proceedings. He looked like he was being buffeted in slow motion by a wind machine. Still, the whole venture has probably done him no end of good and certainly planted him firmly on the political landscape.
I was also confused by his flip-flopping over whether he would be willing to serve in a Johnson led cabinet. No doubt the media caused confusion here too, but it did seem a bit strange that the guy posing as the unity candidate was so equivocal about actually working with the others. And even though I didn’t really agree with a lot of what he said, I have to say he’s generally played a blinder. I suspect this is not the last we’ve seen of him by a long way.
And so the whole roadshow trundles on for another day. At least there’ll just be two left tomorrow, if some kind of coronation doesn’t take place instead.
Well, I just watched the hustings show on the BBC and quite frankly I think it was a huge waste of time.
Emily Maitlis seemed to spend most of the limited time Boris Johnson was given talking over him trying to remind him of things he said. Indeed, most of the questions seemed deliberately worded to allow Emily to go on the BoJo offensive – she had all her embarrassing Boris quotes lined up ready – although in fairness she did once do the same to Jeremy Hunt. Both Jeremy and Boris did a great job of ignoring her, although Boris realised this and his apology to her was one of the lighter moments of the show.
I’m not sure any of them came out of it particularly well. Rory Stewart seemed a bit vague and waffly at times (but did talk some sense), and Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt were competent, but in the most part didn’t say much of consequence. Michael Gove seemed to have a lot of air-time, and as a result may stick more in people’s minds, but his heart-felt thanks to each person who asked a question (when perhaps he should have just been answering the question) made me cringe.
I don’t think any of them said anything we didn’t already know, and none of them really properly answered any of the questions, or for that matter, really interacted with the people asking questions. None of them, for example, had the courage to tell the young lady who asked them to commit to cutting carbon to Net 0 by 2025 that it just isn’t economically possible. The poor Imam who asked the question about ‘words having consequences’ just looked like he’d been set up by the BBC to have a poke at Boris. The woman from Southampton mentioned that her husband’s job was at threat from a No Deal Brexit, but no-one asked exactly how that would happen (I couldn’t figure it out, and presumably neither could they from their answers).
I’m not sure what was worse, the BBC’s efforts to make them look daft, or their own inability to add anything useful to the ongoing debate. Either way, as I’m not a member of the Conservative Party, so don’t get to vote, it’s just an hour of my life I won’t get back…
There’s a good interview with Rory Stewart on the Spectator’s Saturday Coffee House Shots podcast this week, where James Kirkuk quizzes Rory about various things. Funnily enough, the first thing they talk about is the ‘radical centre’ which is basically what I was expounding in yesterday’s post.
Rory discusses his ideas for a government that takes the best of left and right, very much echoing my points. He also goes on to describe how he proposes to get round the Brexit impasse by creating a citizen’s court, which I also think could be a good thing. James Kirkuk seemed less convinced by the idea, but as Rory says, if it doesn’t work, it’s only taking a few weeks out of the process and is a better idea than anyone else has come up with to break the stalemate within Parliament itself.
The one thing I’m not sold on is the term, ‘radical centre’, it sounds like a group that are only interested in the centre ground of politics. Kirkup also runs a think tank that calls itself the Radical Centre, and I agree a lot less with most of the things he tends to come out with (but I’m sure he’s a jolly nice chap).
To me, Rory’s (and my) political stance needs a brand, more than a ronseal title, something that is relatively meaningless, but people can assign values to. As I own Whuff.org (long story, read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Corey Doctorow to get some idea of where I got that name from), I’ve started to use that as my little playground for further exploring my political ideas. I’m not saying that whuff.org, or the Whuff Party, is the way forward, (phones tend to autocorrect it to whiff for a start), but something along those lines.