Friday, May 28, 2010

The new politics: rebel-rousing media

Never mind the government’s odd hissy fit over Alastair Campbell on Question Time; they’ll all get over it. But there’s a wider point about how media debates will take place in our shiny new era.

One of the novelties of the coalition is a question faced by radio and particularly TV current affairs programmes. In the old days, they could get on representatives from each of the main parties and have a three-way debate. But a coalition makes that tricky.

As Newsnight’s Michael Crick pointed out shortly after the government was agreed, if they have Tory, Lib Dem and Labour spokespeople on, that would be two government supporters united against one person opposing, which would seem a bit off (as well as bad TV).

I think I can see the answer to this: they’ll often end up having one government spokesperson (of either party), one from Labour, and then one disgruntled government backbencher – presumably from whichever party is least happy with the policy du jour. The effect of this will be to keep any Lib-Con tensions publicly simmering.

1 comment:

Liam Murray said...

This is a formal coalition, approved by both parliamentary parties - not a minority government. It's no more legitimate to seat a disgruntled backbencher now than it was under Labour.

I think the govt made a silly call last night but if the narrative becomes a constant low-level attempt to undermine the coalition just because the media & punditry don't have the black & white, adversarial thing they're used to then the govt is quite right to tell them where to get off.