Punch & Judy on Question Time

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The rehearsal of idée fixes, the dog whistle politics and the same old pundits paid to be promiscuous with opinion. Tonight is no exception. It’s Punch and Judy. It sounds like your eighth year “your mumming” in the corridor of a wet Thursday.

I’m watching BBC’s Question Time. I usually give it a pretty wide birth. It’s bad for the old blood pressure. If this is the nation thinking, we’re done for.

The rehearsal of idée fixes, the dog whistle politics and the same old pundits paid to be promiscuous with opinion. Tonight is no exception. It’s Punch and Judy. It sounds like your eighth year “your mumming” in the corridor of a wet Thursday. There’s the same Five Positions on the panel – with minor variations. Tonight we have Presentable UKIP (an oxymoron?), Sensible New Labour, who could put bricks to sleep, Shrill Businesswoman, who calls spades spades, Tory Minister, who is. I’m afraid, the Gove at full throttle ... and finally the Dead Clever Scribe Will Self, who is winding up Middle England with our opening quotation.

They move on to address Education. I hide behind sofa. A schoolboy pops up and says his teachers are rubbish. This elicits much applause. Mr Gove preens and seems to suggest that his terrific unpopularity with the nation’s teachers is commensurate with his fabulous competence. Mr Self now doodles. Mr Gove waves some blank white paper.

“That’s the Labour Education policy that is!”

Mr Self looks as though his root canal nerves are giving him considerable gyp. Mr Gove now warms to his theme. He tells us, not for the first time, that teachers are the “enemies of promise”. Mr Self might well be contemplating suicide. No-one – but no-one – picks the minister up on this. Why not? These enemies – would that be you? Me? The NUT? Most teachers and heads? Why is he allowed to get away with this on national television? I’d like him to follow any teacher around for just one day. The ones I know are brilliant, honourable, decent, empathetic, prodigiously industrious, perpetually pressured, randomly insulted, insufficiently remunerated – and the nourishers of much promise.

Mr Self now looks like I feel. The subject changes to the Machiavellian practices of politicians. Mr Gove says the Labour party is much worse than the noble Tories. Mr Self reminds him of the recent vile antics of his accomplices and tells him he’s “a little master of the dark arts”. Mr Gove does a lot of harrumphing.

Now, much as I might concur with the prolix scribe, this hardly constitutes a nuanced debate. Mr Self finally suggests, “Let’s take it outside”. “Your mum!” I say to all of them. Education is too serious to be left to these buffoons.


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