Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Prime Minister's Questions once did what it said on the tin - genuine enquiries were answered by the PM of the day with none of the mudslinging, point-scoring bedlam, which was the dominate feature of today's half-hour.
You will find more intelligent, knowledgeable debate on one radio football phone-in than in a year of PMQs.
Without any condescension, I am often in awe at the erudition in evidence from both callers and presenters on these shows.
The programmes usually follow matches and the callers are fans returning home happy or dejected or else armchair pundits.
The best shows are those where everyone disagrees with each other both fans and presenters. Abuse is rare and quickly dispatched (Mr Speaker, please note) because the uniting force is a love of football. It's a pity MPs don't hold democracy in such high esteem.
To debate confidently about the game you need a Mastermind depth of knowledge. Foreign-born players and mangers frequently have tongue-twister names but mastering these is the easy bit.
You need to know team sheets, formations, results, future fixtures, transfer news, league positions just not of your team but your opponents' too. You need to be able to argue the strengths and weaknesses of players, managers, and referees.
The dedicated fan will be able to give you chapter and verse about past victories and defeats, which players should be bought and which sold (this means keeping an eye on the overseas game), and when managers have passed their sell-by date.
Some of the callers might be just as knowledgeable about other aspects of British life, say, politics or the arts. But that's not to say those that aren't are wasting too many of their brain cells on following football. In a free society that is not a judgement for others to make.