Politics.co.uk Blog

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Politics it's a funny old game

Who would be a politician at the moment? Honestly?

If it's not Austin Mitchell appearing on Channel 4 and proving that despite being a Labour politician he has absolutely no idea what the poor have to live on, and more importantly appearing to not care all that much, it's Harriet Harman being given 25/1 odds on for rear of the year. And let's not forget Quango Directgov getting it wrong when naming part of its website Buster's World – aimed directly at children but with the same name as a gay porn website, which appears higher on Google because it's been around a while longer. Someone surely has a sense of humour over at DirectGov I bet the market research that went behind the name for that little gem costs a pretty penny too.

One wonders why they do it.

Last night's Tower Block of Commons - fast becoming my favourite TV show - managed to show just how out of touch Labour really have become. Mitchell seemed to think a dinner party in a council flat with the local Birmingham MP would help solve the problems of the people living in said council block - including the family he was ostensibly supposed to be staying with, but refused point blank to.

Of course it might but I'm thinking flats that aren't falling apart, microwaves that actually work without having to be hit with a hammer, beds and other furniture and the opportunity for dad Dave, a qualified chef, to be able to ply his trade might be of more help. What's more confusing about this is that Mitchell is not a young man and, one expects, did not come from a privileged background. So how on earth could he have completely forgotten his roots?

His utter refusal to try to work with the producers of the programme in the way that had been outlined to him, to try and live on the same amount of money as someone on benefits in some of Britain's worst sink estates, not only made him look utterly ridiculous but massively arrogant and utterly disrespectful towards the people that actually have to live on such meagre handouts. Don't think I'm getting all loony leftie on you; I'm just saying that the people involved in the show were, for the most part, far from benefit scroungers that the Daily Mail might have you believe Britain is infested with.

They were families struggling to make ends meet and not one of the MPs involved in the documentary has so far come out of the experience looking all that good. Good thing some of them - Mitchell and Mark Oaten, for instance - are retiring really. I'm not sure this programme would have helped them much. Take note Nadine Dorries and Tim Loughton. Although of the two Loughton just about came out of last night's episode with a little bit of dignity still intact.

Then there's the case of Harriet Harman being in the running for the rear of the year award famously won by the likes of Charlotte Church and Rachel Stevens in the past. One wonders how the arch feminist and champion of equality feels about such a nomination and whether some of her more cheeky colleagues couldn't help themselves in nominating the deputy leader of the Labour party as she seeks to guide her equality bill through its final stages in the House of Commons. I wouldn't be surprised if a few Tory members thought this would be a great wheeze themselves and decided to add their names to the nominations. If the Sun has its way she'll probably win. After all, 25/1 are far better odds than I would have expected her to get.

And why oh why does this government continue to shoot itself in the head? What a wonderful juxtaposition we had in today's press. On one page Harman is being nominated for rear of the year; on the next directgov is in hot water because it names part of its website after someone else's gay porn balloon fetish website. You couldn't make it up!

All in all a strange day in the world of politics. Let's try not to forget the serious business going on at the moment. What's that I hear you say? Gordon Brown has just nominated Caroline Flint for Playboy's playmate of the year?

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