Thursday, February 07, 2008

QT review

Actually, for once Question Time wasn't the best thing on telly last night - that was Ashes to Ashes, the follow-up to Life on Mars with Keeley Hawes' Alix Drake replacing John Simm's Sam Tyler in the role of present-day cop who travels back in time to an era where the policing may be less enlightened but the music is just ace. Doubtless Paul Burgin will have a more in-depth review on his blog by tomorrow morning.

So what of QT? Well, new Culture Secretary Andy Burnham had the job of keeping the government's end up and he was deeply unimpressive. He particularly struggled when asked to defend Caroline Flint's bonkers idea to chuck the unemployed out of their council homes - a suggestion which seemed to have little support in the Liverpool audience - and also when put on the spot about Labour's potty plan to expel the four MPs who are demanding a referendum on the EU Treaty. Burnham does at least seem to have a bit of passion about him, as well as an element of Northern grit, but the overall impression is of an intellectual lightweight. I was left wondering what on earth Telegraph pol ed Andy Porter sees in him.

By contrast, Tory Chris Grayling did nothing to offset the view that he is one of his party's rising stars, helpfully pointing out that Ms Flint's housing proposal would actually be illegal in most cases in that local authorities have a duty to house children.

Liberal Democrat Julia Goldsworthy also impressed, answering each question with calm authority and common sense. She has an extremely useful personality for a politician - high intellect and natural authority combined with accessibility and warmth. I am convinced that barring accidents she will lead her party one day.

Businessman Duncan Bannatyne took a while to get into his stride. At the beginning he was stumbling over his words so much I wondered if he was pissed, but relaxed a bit after some playful banter with Dimbleby over his past donations to the Labour Party. He came over as an instinctive socialist, especially on the council housing issue, but took issue with his party over the EU referendum, posing the question whether they would chuck him out as well.

The real star, though, was Shami Chakrabarti who once again showed why she is Britain's favourite campaigner. Seemingly despairing of Labour over the "surveillance state" issue, she saved her best flourish till last, declaring that the job of EU president was probably "not grand enough" for Tony Blair. I think it was probably her diplomatic way of saying that she wishes the former Prime Minister would simply f-f-f-ade away.

Apparently Caroline Flint herself is on next week...

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7 comments:

JamesB said...

Interesting review, but not sure I agree with your assessment of Burnham - you rightly point out the housing idea he was forced to defend was bonkers, and so he was left attempting to defending an idiotic idea.

The Gordon Brown non-answer approach was probably the only course left open to him, under the circumstances. Likewise the EU treaty issue, really. There's no intelligent defence for a manifesto U-turn that's worked yet.

lettersfromatory said...

Chris Grayling is certainly packing a punch these days. Every time he makes a statement, you can feel the pain in the Labour camp.

Lee Griffin said...

JamesB: Burnham failed for me as soon as he collapsed in to line to try and spin out the usual "ten years of stable economy" spiel. I was most impressed with David for putting a stop to that, in no uncertain terms clearly annoyed as much as the rest of us to have this rhetoric regularly thrown at us.

septicisle. said...

Burnham was hopeless, Shami was as good as ever, especially making clear that bugging/intercepts must require judicial supervision, not ministerial or police.

Justin said...

I caught the edited version on News24 last night. I couldn't concentrate on a word Burnham was saying, fascinated, as I was, by his make up. He looked like Danny La Rue.

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