BBC1’s Question Time has hit a rock. The traditional format (one spokesperson from each of the three big parties, plus a couple of others) doesn’t work with coalition politics.
Take last Thursday’s programme. Theresa May is minister for women and equality as well as home secretary. Strange no one calls her “two jobs,” to go with David “two brains” Willetts. She was asked whether she still believes that gay couples shouldn’t adopt, and there was a brief chat about her support for clause 28 and the fact that she’d abstained four times on a vote on transsexuals. She, of course, has had a Pauline conversion on the road to power—a Grayling conversion perhaps?—so she padded up to that one.
But Menzies Campbell, the liberal, let it go. Of course, before the election he would have shredded her and, above all, Cameron for appointing someone with such a record as minister for women and equality. Curious that they didn’t pass this to a liberal who has always believed in social justice and equality. But that’s not the point. Everyone was very polite about her right to change her mind and ignored the key issue.
So now Question Time will be the very incarnation of the “new politics”: cosy consensus from Lib Dems and Conservatives, who gang up on the solitary Labour voice and ignore real differences. Five years of this is going to be great. Perhaps the two assistant producers, the producer, the executive producer and the editor (cuts at the BBC anyone?) could get together for a lunch on expenses and come up…