Political Promise

Posts Tagged ‘TV’

10 O’Clock Live: a vehicle for political accessibility

In Garry Lee on January 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Taking a look at the first episode of Channel 4’s new political programme 10 O’Clock Live, Garry Lee discusses the show’s hidden potential as a way of making politics more accessible.  Read the rest of this entry »

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What Can Politics Learn From Eddie Guerrero?

In Conor Campbell on November 18, 2010 at 9:24 am

On the 13th on November the world of ‘Sports Entertainment’ and its fans remembered the life of Eddie Guerrero, who passed away five years previously. Conor Campbell looks at how he inspires the next generation in the public eye. Read the rest of this entry »

News 25: Claire Balding vs AA Gill

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2010 at 10:15 am

Drew Colgate is back with more news that puts the sense into SENSATIONAL. Today, it’s “Gill spills milk and it’s gone everywhere!” Read the rest of this entry »

Five Days, One Documentary, and “a series of untruths”

In Vicky Wong on July 31, 2010 at 10:48 pm

By Vicky Wong

Nick Robinson’s recent documentary on the five days after the 2010 General Election, which saw in the new era of British coalition politics, has been the latest instalment attempting to prise apart the Tory-Lib Dem marriage. Read the rest of this entry »

What to do with Channel Four?

In Ju Shardlow on July 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm

By Ju Shardlow

Channel 4’s Public Service Broadcaster (PSB) status looks increasingly put-upon as Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt attempts to deregulate commercial television. Channel 4 chairman Lord Terry Burns is expected to defend against allegations of privatization and reveal its high debt levels at a select committee this Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »

Tears of Propaganda

In Matthew Wheavil on February 14, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Emotion is the new rhetoric for the Labour party, apparently. Even Alistair Campbell, the steeliest spin-doctor of our time, was capable of shedding a tear over the “constant vilification” of Tony Blair and Iraq two weeks ago.

And then, yesterday, Gordon Brown poured his heart out in front of the nation, opening up about the loss of his child to Piers Morgan (arguably the tackiest excuse for an interviewer next to Jeremy Kyle).

It is probably no small coincidence then, that the recent poll figures placing the Conservatives at 40% (11 points ahead of Labour) were released last week. The stain of unpopularity on a Governing party is almost always impossible to remove. It would probably take David Cameron flying over to Iran and giving President Ahmadinejad a big sloppy kiss for Labour’s electoral fortunes to turn around.

So with words only serving to dig the hole the Labour party are currently standing in deeper, they’ve started crying in the hope that they’ll float up to the surface again. (Yes, I know, that was an utterly ridiculous metaphor).

This is of course a little bit harsh considering that Brown has been through genuine tragedy that I for one certainly couldn’t begin to imagine. But why discuss it now? How could it not be staged with a few months to go before the general election?

While party leaders tend to be one of the biggest influences on a voter’s choice, ‘wheeling out’ Brown’s human side could prove disastrous. Many people have said that they feel sorry for the Prime Minister and having seen his tears, the public might just feel like giving him a sympathetic pat on the back, whilst casting their vote elsewhere.

Brown has been one of the unluckiest Prime Ministers of all time, having had to spend most of his leadership trying to fix an intensely deep recession. It is a bit harsh to blame him entirely for it – recessions are a facet of capitalism and a global problem. The world will always boom and bust in a seesaw motion – it’s the natural consequence of societies based on excess.

But many tend to blame the current Government of the time for the current recession of the time. If the Conservatives were currently the Governing party, would Britain have begun recovering by now? It’s hard to know and it does make sense to think that despite his fumbling, Brown’s economic experience has somehow steered our sinking ship through the worst.

But Labour’s unpopularity is not just about the recession. The ongoing expenses scandal has demonised British politics in people’s minds more than ever. Brown’s Government has come across as the least trustworthy with three Labour MPs having recently been charged over false accounting.

Cameron on the other hand has tried to claw his party out, threatening to sack any member who so much as breathes the word ‘expenses’. A clever move as while no party has come out shining with credibility, taking an aggressive stance has probably made the Conservatives look more electable.

So Labour’s only option is to show emotion and express vulnerability because some voters might just trust it.

Having said that, it didn’t work for Hillary.

Matthew Wheavil

An Audience with Tony Blair… Tomorrow’s Enquiry is Must-See TV!

In Charlie Edwards on January 28, 2010 at 9:29 pm

The prodigal son has returned to British politics. His depature in 2007 paved the way for political opportunism for Cameron (‘the election that never was’ gibes are still the perennial crowd-pleaser for the Tory leader) and for economic strife and the complete expenditure of patience for New Labour for Brown. The ‘Son of Thatcher’ jumped ship at the perfect time. So, after nearly a decade as PM, the Sedgefield MP stood down to take up the post of Middle East Envoy for the Western world. His brief was to secure ‘peace, governance and economic stability’ to the region. Looking back on the past decade, the role of ‘peacekeeper’ is a laughable one to give Tony Blair.

He transformed the Labour Party after his 1994 leadership election victory following John Smith’s death. He modernised the party constitution, championed middle-ground populist ideas (“Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”, “Education, education, education”, “New Labour, new life for Britain”) alongside string-puller Mandelson and number-crunching Brown. The trio quickly ascended to power in 1997, ending eighteen years of Conservative rule. (A modernisation of the party in opposition for a long time, letting go of the shackles of the past – familiar ground between Blair to Labour and Cameron to the Conservative Party methinks)

New Labour was a political movement which advocated a regulated, yet free market economy, promoted equality and fairness for women and ethnic minorities more than any British government before them, and well-publicised in the media thanks to a well-oiled PR machine, led by Alastair Campbell – often cited as one of the most powerful men in politics during the turn-of-the-Millenium heyday. September the 11th 2001 was a watershed moment for Blair: the game changed.

Following the terrorist attacks in America, George Bush Jnr liberating himself from silly protocol like democracy and invaded Afghanistan. Blair had to maintain the ‘special relationship’ – and went along with the Texan’s half-cocked plan. And when it came to Iraq, and a similarly shabbily put together plan proposed by ‘Dubya’ – Blair shrugged his shoulders and went along with that one as well. That “Oh, what the heck” mentality is what has got the Labour Party in this mess it is in today: disjointed, disillusioned and displaceable. The money spent and the lives lost in the Middle East has had very little positive effect. A recent article in The Times started “Another day, another round of bombing in Baghdad.” 179 British military personnel lost their lives in Iraq, an their ultimate sacrifice for peace and freedom shan’t be forgotten. The Chilcot enquiry aims to make sure of this – and finally holding the Government to account.

Tony Blair’s appearance before Sir John Chilcot and his enquiry tomorrow will be an interesting affair. Whilst it bears little importance to today’s politics, it sparks controversy given that Iraq-related press is bad press for the Labour party. Tony Blair will have to justify his actions, his lack of Parliamentary debate into the initial decision to go to war, the Cabinet resignations and why six years after Saddam Hussein’s regime was toppled, that lives are still being lost. Whatever political persuasion you hold, Tony Blair has an attractive quality which draws you in: tomorrow’s enquiry is must-view television for the sheer appearance of a political Diego Maradona, a man whose immeasurable talent polarised his popularity: many hated, many loved. I was intrigued.

Charlie Edwards

‘A historic moment’ we could do without

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2010 at 4:54 pm

 Last month Michael Jeremy, director of news at ITV referred to an imminent “historic moment in both television and electoral history.” Can you guess what? 

The introduction of televised debates in the 2010 General Election Campaign.

Well Michael although were not all excited as you are, it is historic in that it is a first. But ‘first times,’ do not always signify moments of national pride. I imagine these televised debates will prove this very point if Prime Minister’s Questions are rehearsals.

 Every Wednesday, we are subjected to the usual tedious ‘banter;’ the latest being ‘Dave your face is  like so airbrushed on those billboards!’ In PMQs there is genuine opportunity for serious although brief scrutiny of the Executive. But it is nothing short of panto politics with Dave playing the cheeky prefect and Brown the angry headmaster. Won’t these televised debates just be a re-run of PMQs?

Will these televised debates be PMQ's-in-a-studio?

 More fundamentally, since Labour’s election in 1997, we have frequently heard the lamentation of collective decision making and ‘primus inter paras,’ demonstrable in cabinet decision making on the eve of the Iraq War. Essentially there has been concern from political commentators, that prime ministers are increasingly adopting a presidential style of decision making. This is alien to our democratic arrangment. Unlike America we do not have a clear separation of powers, and we do not vote directly for a leader. That is why we rely on the doctrine of collective responsility when Government makes crucial decisions.

 The demand for televised debates indicates the disproportionate importance we are now expected to place on personality and charisma when electing our leaders. But do these attributes signify when we are considering which individuals are most qualified to represent our interests?

With a second Gulf War and a recession on our hands, I think we have sufficient drama.

Madeleine Teahan

The Political Effects of Jonathan Ross’ BBC Departure is greater than its Cultural Impact

In Charlie Edwards on January 9, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Jonathan Ross has recently embarked on the production of his 18th series of his primetime chat-show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. His contract, which runs out in June, has reportedly earned him £18 million over the past four years, and will not be renewed by the Beeb when it runs out. So no more Wossy on our screens. As well as his celeb-fest on a Friday night, he also presents a daytime Radio 2 show and the Film… series, where he offers his critique on the latest film releases. His creative, sharp and flirty style won him critical acclaim, and as of this summer, will discontinue all of his BBC roles.

Eyebrows will be raised as to whether he jumped or was pushed, and I think the BBC may have been a little more forceful than the airy-fairy ‘thought-leaves’ that are coming out of White City. The BBC have an obligation to offer the taxpayer value for money. Jonathan Ross onced joked at the National Comedy Awards, after announcements that the BBC was to axe 2,500 jobs, that he was ‘worth 1,000 journalists’. 

Jonathan Ross on his primetime BBC chat-show

On the BBC website, a debate entitled ‘Will you be sad to see Ross go?’ amassed a whopping 6,355 responses, a tiny proportion of his 5 million-strong audience on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross . The cultural impact on his departure will initially cause a fuss (he fills 80 prime evening slots a year) but Britain is hardly suffering from a lack of willing and able presenters and personalities. He was a character, and I’m sure his next move will be to conquer America.   

In this country, he will inevitably always be remembered for the Andrew Sachs scandal, where  he and fellow presenter Russell Brand sexually harrassed the veteran actor’s grand-daughter over the phone in a recording of a Radio Two broadcast. The furore surrounding that event bruised his ego: it certainly didn’t leave any scars. The quality of BBC output will not suffer.

Given the Government’s talk of ‘cutting the budget deficit’, the BBC have decided to lead the way in cutting spending. The significance is greater than the future savings, it is the willingness and courage to scrap a primetime heavyweight. Similarly, in order to cut public debt, many of Labour’s heavyweight policies may have to be scrapped. Unnecessary, expensive and not wholly popular ideas such as ID cards could well be the Jonathan Ross-shaped sacrifice the Labour budget needs to work out – to prove to the British people that the economy will be stimulated by a future government. Faith in economic management is where this election will be won and lost. Gordon Brown will have to concede the Tory are not the ‘party of cuts’ and show how he is going to manage the deficit. Today. Not to ‘stimulate future growth’. How will the debt be paid off today? The BBC are one of hundreds of public bodies where implementing cuts can save more money than many people think. And that is exactly what they are doing.

The BBC  commit to cut costs by 3% a year. Between now and 2013, they hope to save £1.9 billion. A survey conducted in November from Policy Exchange, a centre-right think-tank, revealed that two thirds of voters support a decrease in BBC budgets. This was revealed in an article in the Daily Express: ‘Voters Call to Slash Bloated BBC Budget’. A prospective Government must follow suit in order to cut their own budget deficit. John Maynard Keynes’ economic theory of spending your way out of a recession may ease macroeconomic problems now, but as Phillip Hammond, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary announced last week – the Government debt is partly due to the recession, but mainly a structural debt. Spend spend spend can only work if you’ve saved saved saved when times were less harsh.

The BBC has been ridden with controversy over the legitimacy of the BBC license fee,  many believe that its legal monopoly (you go to prison if you do not pay your TV license) protects BBC funding immorally. Jonathan Ross’ extravagant pay package seems even worse once the numbers have been crunched:

75p of your license has gone to Jonathan Ross over the past four years. 0.5% of your license fee this year will have funded Jonathan Ross. 0.5% of Britain’s GDP is spent on the entire expenditure on health in the whole of Northern Ireland. When put in that perspective, it does not seem like the ‘value for money’ we are promised.

This graph shows the ways a household's monthly license fee is spent within the BBC.

The imposition of a television license fee is immoral: irrelevant of how much BBC television you consume, whether half an hour a week or sixteen hours a day  . Some people’s £142.50 is much more value for money than those who cannot afford the time to enjoy as much television, or for those who simply prefer the output from other broadcasters.

The writer Jonathan Miller described the situation in a debate in 2007: “You cannot watch New Delhi TV news without paying the BBC. It’s as if you had to subscribe to the Guardian to be allowed to read The Telegraph.”

The license fee is a guaranteed source of income, which ringfences the British broadcaster from unforeseen economic circumstances. The drying-up of advertising revenue streams is another argument for the safeguarding of the BBC. BBC’s largest competitor, ITV, have been badly affected by the economic recession (loss of ad revenue combined with the massive loss the company made on its acquisition of Friends Reunited, the doomed social networking site) and has since had to scale back on the production of many programmes. The Bill has been shortened to one episode a week, and there has been an uptake in storylines featuring the younger (and cheaper) cast members of Coronation Street. ITV has one man to thank for not going into administration: Simon Cowell.

Reality television has taken a grip on our screens, and the British public do not want it to let go just yet. Channel Four’s Big Brother will ultimately be remembered as one of the programmes of the Noughties. Whether it is looking good naked, dieting, home improvements or selling your uncle’s chase silver rasor blades – there has been a TV programme for it . Channels Four and Five’s reality documentaries created a much finer line between science fiction, freak shows and scientific anomalies. ITV created the four most succesful (aside from BB) reality offerings in Hell’s Kitchen, X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and I’m A Celebrity… The BBC has not been able to keep up in this sought-after category of public broadcasting. There is a perverse joy to be taken from watching other’s misgivings, the British people like television which can be related to.

Sitting on a sofa interviewing trumped-up Hollywood celebrities can not be easily related to.

In our age of austerity, budgets need to be cut. The BBC is taking an active role in leading the way. The decision to not renew Jonathan Ross’ contract may not have a cultural impact. But if other public bodies follow suit – it will have a political impact.

Charlie Edwards