Did you see Question Time on BBC1 on Thursday night?

It was pretty incredible. On one side of David Dimbleby sat Michael Heseltine and Simon Hughes, together representing the new Liberal-Conservative (note big C) progressive coalition government.

On the other side were ranged the entire gamut of conservatism (small c), represented by Labour peer Lord Falconer, Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips and the New Statesman's political editor, Mehdi Hasan.

Question time

It was quite extraordinary not only to see  Melanie Philips (she who Guardian columnist Ed Hussein described last year as occupying a "McCarthy-style paranoid parallel universe" in which she "views
every Muslim a potential Islamist terrorist") sitting between Mehdi Hasan and Lord Falconer, physically as well as emotionally on "their" side as it were, but also to hear her so closely united with them in deriding the coalition government.

I would emphasise my use of the small c in describing this group as conservatives (in the sense that they are traditionalist, conventional and unprogressive) as I think Michael Heseltine might not be too happy if I suggested they were aligned with him in any way.

The funny (both peculiar and ha ha) thing though, is that neither Phillips nor Hasan seem to appreciate the irony that, in joining forces to deprecate the new collaborative government, they are going far further than  Cameron, Clegg or any of their colleagues, in glossing over past differences.

The idea of the New Statesman's (Muslim) political editor ending up (metaphorically) in bed with the Mail's "Zionist pitbull" Phillips, whilst former Justice Minister Charlie Falconer snuggles somewhat awkwardly alongside, was, I would suggest, several times less likely two weeks ago than the coalition government that has arisen from the election.

While Hasan and Phillips joined forces on Question Time to denigrate the new government for the low number of women and ethnic minority representatives, only  six days before, Hasan had written in his New Statesman blog:

"This Press Release....has cheered me up (but has probably sent a shiver down the spine of
Melanie Phillips)......Congratulations to.....the Tories for electing non-white MPs in
general and Muslim MPs, in particular."

It would seem a week is a long time in political journalism.

I haven't yet worked out if this (fairly widespread) indignant posturing and naysaying by journalists is just another example of resistance to change (see my blog from a few days ago),  or if they simply don't have a clue how to deal with the new reality, and are hoping that if they criticise it enough it will disappear, and then they can just carry on as usual.

Or maybe actor and comedian Chris Addison got it right earlier on Thursday evening during Have I Got News For You, when, referring to many journalists' apparent inability to grasp the concept of a coalition, he described them as a "thick bunch of bastards!"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.