Many thanks to the new coalition government for helping to make Question Time even more enjoyable.
Their idiotic decision to try to get me kicked off the panel by refusing to field a minister if I was ‘the Labour voice’ was stupid on so many levels it is hard to know where to start.
First, this is Queen’s Speech week, and for the government not to be properly represented is a straightforward failure of communications management. It is also an insult to the programme, the audience of Gravesend, and to the much trumpted Clamberon notion that they are pursuing a new politics of engagement.
Second, it suggested that since becoming the government despite their failure to secure a majority, the Tories have gone all cocky and decided they can start to dictate the terms on which impartial broadcasters go about their business. I may be a bit of a control freak but the idea of saying you can only have x if y is axed was way beyond my understanding of the rules of the game.
Third, it suggests they’re a bit frit, and unsure about defending the shifting sands of coalition politics.
I sensed something was going on through the week, because whenever I tried to ascertain from the programme makers who else was on they were a bit vague. I knew that Piers Morgan was on, but that was it.
Then came word that they were hopeful of getting chief secretary David Laws. Good choice I thought, in the week of the cuts announcement and the centrality of the Treasury to the Queen’s Speech. But they weren’t sure about a Tory, and they thought they might get a Green but really it was not straightforward.
Two days later came word that no, it seemed Laws couldn’t do it after all. So who? They weren’t sure.
It was only in the last 24 hours that I finally learned John Redwood, Susan Kramer and Max Hastings were on.
And I only learned as the programme started the reason why there was no minister. I thought I must be hallucinating at first. Did David Dimbleby just say the government would only field a minister if I was bounced? I think he did.
I thought there and then of pulling out the David Laws framed photo my daughter had suggested I take on to let people know who Mr Laws was, and remind them why I’d spent a few hours researching his views (though I wonder if he even knew of the ludicrous discussions being pursued on his behalf)
Instead I waited to the end and later we toasted him, and all the absent friends of the new Con-Dem government who exposed qualities governments in the first flush of youth ought not to be displaying – cowardice, incompetence and boneheadedness.
* Buy The Blair Years online and raise cash for Labour http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.