Friday, 25 September 2009

Debate trips up pc brigade

Oh joy! Question Time is back on BBC1. The political debating programme chaired by David Dimbleby is a marvellous show-case for what politicians and the parties are really like and the best entertainment on the telly by far.
It slid back into form with ease, as it would after 30 years of practice.
The most fun is usually provided by the old guard and the same was true last night with Tory grandee Michael Heseltine providing the sort of edgy contribution that only those with little ambition left dare to give.
The most illuminating debates often come from the most unlikely questions from the audience, and again this was the case.
The so-called silly question at the end was whether Arlene Phillips should be given a news readers’ job.
There were of course two separate issues that this was supposed to tease out.
One was the continuing row over whether more mature ladies should be allowed to front up news programmes, with various rows over the demise of the likes of Selina Scott and Moira Stuart, while male counterparts survive into their dotage.
In response to this row BBC director general Mark Thompson has apparently charged his managers with finding a female news reader aged more than 50 years.
Then there is the sacking of 66-year-old Arlene Phillips as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing, to be replaced by the younger previous winner Alesha Dixon, aged 30.
And of course all the panellists on Question Time tried to join in the fun by making silly suggestions, including the deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman pointing out that it was always a male Dimbleby who fronted BBC political shows, and never their sister, although it wasn’t made clear if they have one.
Even in jest, this answer revealed just how blinkered Ms Harman and her all-male fellow panellists are by political correctness.
No one made the obvious reply.
Arlene Phillips has decades of experience as an expert choreographer and therefore was the ideal judge on Strictly, but not a journalist and therefore totally wrong for news reading. So the right answer was no.
Modern politicians cannot see wood, in the shape of common sense judgement, for trees, such as ageism, sexism or any other species of right-on doctrine.
Neither age, gender, sexual orientation nor similar are the right criteria for making decisions about employability. Experience, training and ability to do the job are.
Trust Question Time to highlight the absurdity of politicians’ muddle-headed thinking.

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