Wednesday, 17 August 2016

When Victoria met Owen and Jeremy

I watched a goodly slice of the Victoria Derbyshire show this morning. I’d heard criticisms of Ms. Derbyshire’s programme on Radio 5 live, (mainly that she was stupid) but I don’t listen to that channel so I come to her T.V. programme with a minimum of baggage.

The BBC’s V.D. show is a lightweight magazine type affair, but with serious interludes. It’s an ‘in the background’ type of programme. If it’s on, something might catch your eye, and you might stop what you’re doing for a moment to concentrate. So when I was urged to switch it on today, “because Corbyn and Smith are coming up”, I did.

They repeated the same format as some of their previous political studio debates, with the audience separated into Corbynistas, Owenites and Don’t knows. (Or so they had us believe; with Question Time in mind, one has to doubt the sincerity of the participants’ stated positions) 

Since the previous debates were unproductive and (generally) negatively received - okay, let’s call them failures - it seems silly to expect a better outcome from this one. The audience’s intrusive cheering and booing made matters worse, as it always does.  I doubt that their enjoyment transferred to the viewers at home.

I imagine the job of hosting is tricky. Especially when you’ve got pre-recorded film clips to seamlessly insert, a potentially volatile studio audience and an obligation to appear impartial. Victoria Derbyshire was pretty good in that respect, and I did like the shirt she was wearing (green and white stripes.) I sensed she was not a devout Corbynista, but neither did she seem to be much of a Owenite. 

I see Guido Fawkes has a whole series of mini-posts based on what was said during the show. At the point of writing, five. to be precise. See Corbyn's catastrophic failure to recognise Ant and Dec.  Guido and the Spectator make me superfluous. BBC-bashing is virtually mainstream these days. (Not that we see ourselves as a BBC-bashing blog.)

Anyway, let’s be clear - as Owen Smith is apt to venture -  like a stuck record (forgive the obsolete simile) - neither of the two socialist comrades are credible either as party leaders or as future Prime Ministers. They’re far too niche.

I appreciated Owen Smith’s outspokenness when addressing antisemitism in the Labour Party, courageous, yet almost contrived, as if he’d taken a few ‘straight talking’ leaves out of Nigel Farage’s manual. 

Nevertheless it was refreshing to see antisemitism mentioned without being attached to ‘all forms of racism’.   Smith even dared to utter the dreaded word ‘Israel’. Jeremy Corbyn on the other hand, stuck to his usual obfuscation. 

While we’re on the subject, Jeremy Corbyn’s tiresome mannerisms are beginning to coagulate like cold gravy. He’s more repetitive and sloganistic than ever, and the little breaths he takes mid-flow, as if playing for time while trying to retrieve an elusive stock answer from the cobwebs of his brain seem to be getting more frequent. For the same reason, (visualise that icon on your computer, spinning to catch up with itself) he continually talks in the language of the bullet point. All this ‘reaching out’ brings to mind a terrible image of Mr. Tickle. 

I see Owen Smith has had to row back on his ‘talk to I.S.’ policy. Talk to Hamas? Talk to Hezbollah? Reach out to everyone? If Jeremy can get away with it, why not let his opponent? I thought  reaching out was generally accepted as the socialist, democratic, egalitarian  way. 

Highlights from the debate are on this Twitter timeline. 

That said, one mustn’t forget that the whole topic -  the Labour leadership - is comparatively niche.


  1. Given the way the result is bound to go, Morecambe-born Owen Smith might very well be one of Ant and Dec's kangaroo-testicle-eating 'celebrities' later this year.

    Alongside either Hillary or The Donald (whichever way that turns out).

    I'm guessing The Donald would cope with the fish eyes and meal worms better than Hillary. So Hillary would be more fun to watch.

    Regarding, Jez-we-can's failure to recognise Ant and Dec, I'd bet a lot of the programme's viewers didn't recognise Owen Smith, despite him being a Labour supporter too (like them).

  2. I find it kind of worrying that he couldn't identify them to be honest they've been around and in the media longer than many of his shadow cabinet have been out of school!

    I don't watch them or many of the other "entertainment" programmes on a Saturday night but I tend to pick up things from other people, channel hopping, commercials during programmes I do watch etc etc as I'm sure most do.