Highly amusing Facebook #fail comedy video from the BBC. Wonder if they’ll get the deal to film the Wedding?
If you want to BNP to be ‘shown up’, Question Time isn’t the right format to get the results you want to see22 October 2009
There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the appearance tonight of the British National Party on BBC Question Time. When it was announced that the BBC intended to invite Nick Griffin, BNP leader and recently elected (by the British public) Member of the European Parliament, on to Question Time there were mixed responses. Some political parties thought it was the wrong thing to do because it would give them legitimacy as a political party. Other parties were refusing to put up pannelists – refused to appear on the same stage – but as some parties agreed to participate so they all did.
Now, Im not going to express a view on the legitimacy or not of the BNP, but I do have a concern about their appearance tonight. And that’s about the format of the programme on which they’re to appear.
Let’s just think about Question Time for a minute. Five pannelists, usually three politicians, one academic or similarly opinionated person, and one more populist person (a columnist perhaps), chaired by David Dimbleby. Members of the audience ask questions and the pannelists opine and respond one by one. Perhaps there’s some more pointed questioning from the chair trying to get a response to the question.
And this is the point i’m making. It’s not the kind of format where a party like the BNP will really get probed on their policies. There’s no Paxman (not that he succeeded in the past) or Frost really making them uncomfortable, getting to the bottom of what they really mean, and what they imply. It’s a question, an answer, some political responses and questioning from other pannelists (they have their own point to make, and Question Time is about the audience questions, not politicians asking each others views), and moving on to the next point.
On Twitter this morning there’s been some debate about the show tonight. I don’t disagree that primetime TV is the place to point out to the UK what the party actually thinks – but I do think that this format is not the best one, particularly not for those people who really think the party will be shown up on tgeir views. I’m also not a person that thinks gagging works. I’m not apathetic to watching or disengaged from democracy, whether I’ve made up my own mind about them or not. Surely it’s better to let people hear what they think – some may argue to give them enough rope to hang themselves with.
Taken an example about road congestion in our cities. The BNP answers – “road congestion in our cities is a terrible problem, something must be done about it”. What do the other party members do? Disagree vocally with the BNP point of view, or sit there and nod along, agreeing with Nick Griffin? What will this type of questioning and response do for those people who are already of a mindset that could be persuaded by the other arguments they make? A similar appearance by France’s far right political party in the 1980s saw their membership soar and could so well do, or already has, for the BNP.
Question Time is a format that is about swift answers, soundbites, not detailed probing and questioning on what the politicans really mean, what the real implications of their policies are. After my recent posts on undercurrents of hate and what these legitimise, is this really the platform people really think it is to try and show the politics of this party in a truer light? I don’t think it is. Now I may be wrong, and I hope that there is real opportunity for their policies and views to be probed in depth, but I’d just like to end with a thought from Ken Livingstone on Nick Griffin: :”He comes on, says his bit, but for the angry racist, it’s the trigger that turns into an attack.”
Did i touch a nerve with my moaning minnie post about those grumbling, whiney whingers who do nothing but moan moan moan and complain? I think I may have done. I have nothing against getting what you’re due, I have nothing against complaining about bad service, but – let’s be clear – this, and “life’s crap” whinging, are not the same thing.
Like I said if I get a bad service I will complain – whether it’s to the waiter who made me wait too long, the hotel with the broken toilet or my MP who voted for the Iraq war. But whinging is a reprehensible disease (let’s call it daily-mail-fever or have-your-say-itis) which not only drags yourself down but all those whom you carelessly sneeze over…
I think I’ve insulted my new-found friends over at LondonComplains (oops), here’s our twitter corresponace:
- me: @LondonComplains please get lost you whinging twits (OK I admit, I started it… hehe… but did they really think I’d be at all interested in following their depressing tweets? I thought I put it fairly eloquently anyway…)
- LC: Thanks for the insult. If you think being sick of the way our taxes are wasted & we’re maligned is ‘whinging’ then you need help!
- me: nobody thinks taxes should be wasted but I actually have a life and would rather enjoy it than whining about tubes&parking
- LC: So instead you’re whining about the people you think are whining about tubes& parking. And you claim to have a life? Methinks not
- me: i’m not whinging about you, I’m pointing out the fallacies of your tweets (here I linked to my blog just so they could actually see what I thought about their grumpy whineyness)
- me: i’d love to continue this conversation but i’m off out for dinner with a friend (I told you I have a life)
- LC: Haha I’ve seen your page. You’re the saddest geek round these parts, and that’s saying something.. now run along. *pats head* (ah yes, run along little boy… but *score* they’ve seen my blog before, good to know…)
- me: what an intelligent comeback *yawns* (and at this point I ran out of the door on the way to dinner)
- LC: Er, isn’t there some trendy eaterie [sic] you should be polluting right now so you can post tweets tomorrow about what you ate? Idiot.. (why the ‘saddest geek round these parts’ would possibly be going to a trendy eatery is beyond any logical comprehension, but why should that surprise me… but actually I enjoyed a very nice two-for-one pizza with my friend Andrew at Pizza Express thank you very much…)
And just for anyone who missed that, half an hour later
- LC: Been twittering 24 hours and already some wet wally’s seen fit to write an ESSAY on his own site about how we offend his delicate graces. Ha
…and it was very kind of them to give a ‘floppy noodle’ (as they called me) some publicity…
Now, like I’ve said before, I have no problem with people who can put together an eloquent argument, possibly a paragraph or two, explaining what they think, even if they don’t explain why they think so in detail. But splurging out this tripe over the net just because it’s easy is simply sneezing your phlegmmy germs of depression over everyone around you…
Fine, complain to someone, write to your MP or vote him out, tell someone what you think, but don’t moan and whine, it’s not attractive, it’s a depressive disease and you could be doing something far more life-affirming – something that’ll make you happy or that may, heaven forbid, actually change something…
…who likes those scaremongering, negative, ‘have your say’ style splurgerubbish stories? You know the kind of stuff – things like Facebook Causes Cancer and those whinging whiners who want to tell the world everything about it is rubbish?
You see, I don’t think I am. I think that they should stop moaning and get on with their lives. So why, today, do i have LondonComplains starting to follow me (ME) on Twitter?
This is the kind of moaning, whinging, “isn’t the world crap”, Jeremy Clarkson rubbish that is the mindset Daily Mail-believing moaners have gotten themselves into. And, you know what actually scares me – they actually believe they are right…
They actually spend their time, expend their energy, complaining about things like this, apparently:
- For how long will London’s tube system continue its weekend paralysis? Last weekend no District, Central or Piccadilly lines. This is insane ...how about the fact the tube’s over 100 years old and needs a bit of TLC?
- DLR Eastbound stopped for 17 minutes this morning at approx.10.30… broken signal at Westferry. Very late for my job interview. Pathetic… things break, get over it – and ‘very’ late after 17 minutes? Maybe you should have left earlier…
- Last Saturday (28th Feb) Whitechapel – 200 strong Islamic fundamentalist group protesting for Sharia Law / Jihad in London. Police watch … what do you want them to do? Idiot…
- Car taken by council last week – permit ran out. Was told £200 fine, turned out to be £350! Was I told of daily £25 fees when I called? NO why not pay your permit?
Oh and in case you didn’t get it – the ‘bio’ tells us this account is run by lots of people, all sick of London’s broken, cheating, stealing, greedy rulemakers…
It’s not that I don’t believe in complaining (heck, complaining about actual things wrong is getting me some special treatment at a Manchester hotel this weekend)… BUT…
why not stop moaning and just enjoy your life? Call me narrow minded if you want but I just don’t see how spending you time, moaning, complaining and worrying will be life-affirming and, in any way, add to the quality of and enjoyment of your own life…
LondonComplains contributors – i feel sorry for you…
Friendfeed pointed me to the fact that a friend of mine posted a link to this Friday rant. The blog is dedicated to the stupidity of BBC News Website’s “Have Your Say” – indeed BBC news more generally – encouraging the kind of people that love to moan to write in and tell the world their thoughts on a news story.
Anyway, the real problem with the BBC comments system is the range of options you’re now presented with. You’re left with a choice between clicking “Recommend this comment” or else stepping away from the computer and banging your face on the wall for a few minutes. There’s no button for “This is bollocks”, “I can’t believe there are people this gullible and stupid in the world” or “I pity the confused, angry, cat penis that wrote this”. Even the Daily Mail manages to provide both “Thumbs Up” and “Thumbs Down” buttons. The end result of all this is that browsing the BBC’s “Have Your Say” forums makes reading the Daily Mail seem like reading the Socialist Worker. Left-wing bias my fat fucking arse.
Why is the commentosphere full of whinging whiners? OK so the blogosphere has it’s fair share of moaners but at least most of them are committed enough to put some thought into what they’re writing and construct some relatively legible sentences, hell, even put them into paragraphs!
More to the point, why does the BBC, which refused to show the DEC Gaza Appeal for risk of appearing to be impartial allow these halfwits to splurt their ill-informed claptrap all over their “news” pages?
Over the last week the crazy story around Russel Brand and Jonathan Ross’s [rather inappropriate] prank calls to Andrew Sachs has been raging. I won’t link to all the articles but you can see more here and here for latest.
Now I’m not here to defend them, and I’m not here to slate them. There has been much written about the history of how this came to be top of the headlines when the Congo’s falling into chaos, the global economic system continues to disintegrate and America could be about to elect it’s first black president (Cosmodaddy appears to have the whole history in the middle of his post), but in summary: two complaints when broadcast, Daily Mail picks up the story leading to thousands of complaints, reporting in less biased media leads to comments even from the Prime Minister…
But it did get me thinking…
Last week I went to see Now or Later at the Royal Court Theatre. Essentially a story about how to spin a story it revolves around the son of the soon-to-be President Elect of the United States and an out-of-context internet-rumour about him with a photograph to boot. The debates are fascinating and raise points on whether freedom of speech would be constrained by apologising for something which, to some people, would appear to be highly insulting.
I started to contemplate the obvious connections between the two. The play was esentially based around an out of context, hyped up internet-fuelled press-spun story of an how an inappropriate action could have offended, or been seen to offend, people who do not have the same fundamental beliefs. And there are undoubtedly similarities to the recent BBC debacle (despite the Brand/Ross debate being far less considerate/intellectual and, most damagingly, bullying of a person).
This led me to a conclusion – that actually what is needed is empathy (sadly after all of this thinking the Guardian beat me to posting a similar view on the issue) and there’s a fundamental lesson for us all:
In a fast-paced world based on an [some may say ‘Thatcher-capitalism’] ‘every man for himself’ attitude it’s easy to be blinkered to how your actions may be seen (especially in a world where free speech can be so easily taken out of context). What we all (myself included) need to do is contemplate how other people may see our actions (out of context or not), and how it will make other people feel. In a fast-paced world where we communicate through keyboards, microphones, telephones, text and computer screens it is easy to be blinkered to the emotional implications of what we say or do. It harder – but important – not to.