Tuesday, August 28, 2007


No Ming, Polls, Defections, Selections, Outrageous Confections, and Definitely No Iain Dale… Just a Bit of Radio

I’ve been busy with other things than blogging over the bank holiday, and if Stephen Tall’s spectacular return to the Interweb is true, I’ve just constructed the least interesting headline* possible for Lib Dem Blogs. Two of you still here? Good. My erratic performance on last Wednesday’s Simon Mayo Show will disappear from the BBC’s currently even more erratic Listen Again tomorrow, so you’ll have to listen sharpish to get in your own critique. Getting in before that deadline, I shan’t give as much depth as Millennium’s lovingly partial write-up, but I will say who I think came out best…

The best on the Five Live discussion panel: well, obviously, that would be me. I had the best lines, I had the most passion, I occasionally displayed a sense of humour and – this is the decider – curiously enough, I agree with what I said. As the topics were crime, immigration and Europe, rather than join the de facto party line by keeping my head down, my contribution boiled down to ‘This won’t win a lot of votes but, oh, bugger it, I’m a Liberal’.

The most terrifyingly on-message: Tim the Tory. He had an impressive stack of colour Tory Party press releases, but, to be fair, I don’t think he was actually reading from them; they were just piped straight into his brain. Calm, intimidatingly loud in the studio without raising his voice, brilliant at delivering contentious put-downs then bulldozing through, and clearly thinking it was Christmas come early with the choice of topics. Main drawback for me: I disagreed with almost every word he said. Main drawback for listeners: while they probably agreed with him more often that I did, he did sound like a robot.

The one whose point of view was a little vague: Labour Kerron. He had a smaller bunch of print-outs, mostly in black and white (I had one tatty sheet with nothing on it but my own brainstorming; I admit I chatted for a couple of minutes to someone at Cowley Street, but I suspect asking them “Have our MPs said anything about this? I’d rather be forewarned than ambushed when I disagree with them” wasn’t too slavish). General line: ‘The Tories are pandering to a vile, shocking right-wing Daily Mail agenda… And I agree with them.’ I found one of his answers so shocking that I didn’t press him on it in the studio, but just asked if he really meant it afterwards… Still, at least he likes the TARDIS, so he’s not all bad.

The worst on the panel: well, obviously, that would be me, too. I may be consistent in philosophy, but as far as performance goes… The others didn’t say “Um” as every fourth word, I missed several opportunities, and I was the one most likely to be completely derailed. More than once. On the plus side, no-one could have mistaken me for a Tory, and I somehow wasn’t derailed by the classic attack question, ‘So, Alex Wilcock, Mr Angry from just outside Cheltenham [see, I do know where Winchcombe is] wants to know how you personally will solve all his personal anti-social problems this very minute?’

Despite all that, my favourite line I’ve heard on the radio all week was not on BBC Radio 5 but on BBC7, in a 1920s play by Arnold Ridley (long before he was the most sympathetic old gent in Dad’s Army), The Ghost Train. An appallingly rude woman summons the guard to accuse a young man of molesting her after she refuses to make way in the corridor and he attempts to get by:
“Don’t believe a word he says. He is probably a member of the Liberal Party!”
In other blogging news, I’ve just got round to updating my sidebar links for (cough) the first time this year. So my selection of what I reckon are my best posts so far – no stats, just personal preference – is now up-to-date again (though I couldn’t work out how to get two links on one line, as in both the ‘Best of Politics’ and the ‘Best of Fun’ lists I had two posts that went together).

I’ve also added quite a few new blogs that I read regularly. Not as many as I’d like, though, as I decided there had to be a limit: I started cutting Lib Dem Bloggers off so that bit of the list’d still fit at one glance on my usual screen resolution. You may be able to spot three links I might have dropped but retained in the hope they’ll start writing again, too. But imagine my distress when I noticed the lovely Antony Hook had started blogging just after the updates… Sorry, Antony, but I think your link’ll have to wait until I next steel myself to pick someone else for the chop!

*Apart from one mentioning local casework, obviously. Er, sorry, councillors ;-)

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