Last night on BBC One we were ‘treated’ to one of the clearest examples of why Party Politics is achieving so little in the leadership of our nation. The real question is do we throw our lot into movements such as the Million Mask March and attempt to overthrow the system that way or is there another route that will bring change to the governance of this country that does not involve donning a mask and risk allowing extremists in at the edges? The evidence for the broken system came in a programme hosted by David Dimbleby called Question Time. Last nights edition came from London. On the panel were two Politicians, each from their respective Cabinets so theoretically people at the top of their game and four people involved in journalism. Some of the best contributions in the debate on Terrorism in general and IS in particular came from the audience and after their wisdom, that of the journalists. Sadly the two MPs were left to squabble and out themselves as being unable to bring any form of clarity or authority into a discussion which is one of the most critical for our nation at this time.
Apart from the audience who deserve acknowledgement, the protagonists were Conservative business minister Anna Soubry MP, Labour’s shadow home secretary Andy Burnham MP, former editor of Le Monde Natalie Nougayrede, Daily Mail columnist and former editor of the Daily Telegraph Sir Max Hastings, Al Jazeera English presenter Mehdi Hasan, and the British/Russian businessman and owner of the Independent and Evening Standard newspapers Evgeny Lebedev. Perhaps it was unfair to allow two Politicians to be put into the same environment as the audience and the rest of the panel. However that is what we had for our nightly entertainment. Outnumbered and outclassed, Andy and Anna stood out for all of the wrong reasons.
Based on last night, it is clear that neither Anna nor Andy have the qualities I would expect to see in a Party Leader, but they are nevertheless senior Politicians in their respective Party. Even if we had to choose one of them in some form of political equivalent of the SCD Dance Off, instinctively neither of them did well enough to go to the ballroom in Westminster. They have both worked their way up through a system that promotes people like them. That system has dominated and controlled our national democratic structures for hundreds of years and it is one that is ready to take our bombs and potentially our soldiers into a war with a foe that no one really understands and few can identify. Anna and Andy represent some of the best of their colleagues who sit in 561 out of 649 seats in the House of Commons. These 561 people between them make decisions on our NHS, Education, Police, Prisons etc etc. Of course there are some colleagues in both Parties who could have performed more effectively in that setting last night, but Anna and Andy have risen to their positions as a result of the same system that has selected the other 561. In a system that is showing failure in 86% of its structure, it is not unreasonable to argue that the system itself has failed. The question is what do we need to do to replace the broken system, and how do we stop people like Anna Soubry from taking us to war in the meantime. It was clear from last night that she is determined to do so, and don’t dare anyone suggest that there is any equivalence between the beheadings carried out by the Saudi Government and those carried out by IS as Mehdi Hasan suggested. It is clear that Anna does know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable beheadings. I am sure that some of her constituents must feel reassured with that knowledge, even if many more of them must wonder how she got selected.