Friday, 28 May 2010

Question Time row - a sad return to discredited politics

The Coalition government refused to put up a Cabinet member for the BBC’s flagship political show Question Time last night, because the Corporation wouldn't withdraw its invitation to Alastair Campbell, Labour’s on-off spinmaster.
Only the BBC comes out of the furore well for standing up to the same sort of bullying that Campbell dealt out when his lot were in office. I thought the government had pledged to scrap the bad, old ways.
The Coalition argued that Campbell was inappropriate because he was unelected. But it was essential that in the week of the Queen’s Speech it had a representative on the Question Time panel.
It should have bitten the bullet and put up someone like Ken Clarke, who would have ridiculed Campbell’s presence on the show.
The Coalition shot itself in the foot – but it is only a nick and the fuss will quickly blow over. Last night’s events will not be forgotten, however, when the government takes an axe to the Corporation.
The Labour Party has no reason to be smug. Campbell got his invitation because he makes for entertaining television. But he should have refused in the best interests of the party. If one of the leadership contenders was deemed unsuitable, Harriet Harman should have been there to make the case for the Opposition.
The sooner Labour realises that Campbell is a vote loser the better. The man will forever be linked with Tony Blair and pursuit of the illegal invasion of Iraq.
If leadership candidate David Miliband has any sense he will count Campbell’s support as a handicap.

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