One thing that I’ve noticed with the upcoming election, is the amount of coverage it is getting on television. It seems, worryingly, to have become the next form of sad reality television that the TV companies seem determined to foist upon us. I don’t know what is worse – Total Wipeout, or a presidential-style leaders debate that seems to champion style and PR over actual substance. And that is just what is happening.
It got me thinking a lot. I don’t remember anything like this for any previous election, and I’ve voted in a few now, so I must have been paying attention then in some way. I just don’t remember TV executives getting their grubby little mitts on it all. How would previous big names in politics have fared? How would Winston Churchill, Clement Atlee, William Gladstone or Benjamin Disraeli have fared? I suspect that some of the greatest leaders that there have been would have fallen flat on their faces when forced to compete in the cult of spin and personality. I think that this obsession with style and how politicians appear on television is actually damaging for the country. It really should not be a popularity contest (since when did the head girl at my old school ever turn out to actually be the most competent person for the job?) and be about actually who really could run a country well, be a strong leader and – more importantly – get things done and stand up for Britain on the world stage.
I am beginning to despair when I see trailors for the next gladitorial jousting debate dressed up like reality TV. Is this really a good way to pick the bunch of people who will be running GB PLC for the next five years? Of course there should be a way to find out exactly what the parties stand for and what they are proposing to do. But this is not that way to do it. What next? Putting the leaders of the political parties on Total Wipeout? Sending them all off to the jungle to eat worms? The cynical side of me really does wonder whether some television exec really has – with total seriousness – suggested some of this crap TV as a way to run the political debate in the run up to the election.
Could the last person to leave GB please remember to switch off the lights? Never have I been so underwhelmed by the way politics has been commercialised by the TV companies.