It’s predicted that 2011 will be the year of The Three Cs of Politics; Cameron, Clegg…and now, it seems, that all important third-wheel of the coalition, Cowell.
A news story in the Guardian recently ran with the headline ‘Public to choose policies as coalition gets the X Factor’. The article continued “The government is to follow the lead of The X Factor television programme and allow the public to decide on legislation to be put before MPs.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of referendums. Hurrah for direct democracy. But does anyone really think reality television should influence government policy?
Sir George Young, leader of the Commons, has said he wants to progress with ‘government by petition’ in the New Year, in order to “make politics more relevant to people’s daily lives”. Is this a man that genuinely sits at home of a Saturday evening watching the X Factor? Don’t get me wrong, I can see him listening to Wagner. Wagner circa 1850.
Yet, as wonderfully inclusive as the idea of the whole electorate voting via e-petition sounds, it raises the inevitable problem that the topics the public are likely to deign most popular for them to vote on- withdrawal from the EU, complete halt to immigration, reintroduction of capital punishment- are hardly forward-thinking policies. All three will be batted down straight away, so where exactly was the antidote to the tragic ‘disconnection between the public and parliament’?
Let’s say in a freak wave of parliamentary appeasement to Daily Mail readers nationwide, the Commons pass a policy restricting all immigrants from pitching up in Portsmouth, how do we deal with those who make it across the channel? Do we station Bruce Forsythe at Dover ready to greet immigrants with his token “Nice to see you…”, before waving them back from whence they came?
This news story has nothing whatsoever to do with X Factor, its reference is a poor attempt to harness the interest of the average British citizen and keep up with the people, making it seem nothing more than a farce in the process. The only reality television politicians should be concerned with is BBC Parliament. Why watch Big Brother or Celebrities Do The Stupidest Things when there are a bunch of middle-aged Britons baiting each other, team red on one side, team blue on the other, two sword lengths apart. Their challenge? To run the country. Their prize? Not being ousted from Government or having to deal with Davina McCall. The stakes are high enough without the need to throw in a £100,000 record contract.
The X Factor angle is completely irrelevant and should have been edited from the title; it’s misleading and, quite honestly, it makes a mockery of politics. Let’s keep the realm of celebrity and the realm of politics separate, before we end up with Jeremy Clarkson as Prime Minister and Noel Edmonds as Chancellor of the Exchequer.