I was asked during the week if I could speak from The Late Late Show audience in favour of water charges. As it happened, I couldn’t, as I had a prior commitment. But to be honest, if I was free, I’m not sure I would have agreed anyway. Fair play to the RTE researcher who was diligently trying to get some pro-water charge voices into the audience for balance, but the bear-pit format of RTE audience debates on political issues is so awful that I avoid them. It’s not just RTE either. I’ve been elsewhere, and there’s an over-emotional sound-bite culture that drives the format now. No room to make longer points, or actually debate comments from others, and an obsession with getting “as many voices” into the debate, which favours 15 tiny slivers of opinion over say, 4 people discussing an issue. When you’re in the studio, you can see the “Be short, be short!” look of panic in the producer’s eyes, which is understandable. He or she is just doing their job, but it doesn’t help inform anybody. Surely there’s room somewhere in the Irish media for a show with a long discussion and a modest number of participants?
The new polls from Scotland are fascinating, pointing to a Labour meltdown in the next year’s general election. Now, All four of Britain’s main parties look like getting screwed by First Past the Post in different ways, which must be a first. There’s also the possibility of the SNP holding the balance of power, which will be very entertaining. Turns out the Brits may not need Proportional Representation to look like Italy after all. Yet still the Tories won’t concede that FPTP is an electoral system for a different age.
Check out Peter Kellner from Yougov’s Scottish poll analysis here.
The other interesting/milk out of nose from laughing development in UK politics is that the rise of UKIP seems to be making the EU more popular in Britain! UKIP’s repellence towards many voters seems to have made them look at the EU again on the basis of “If these guys are against it, can it be that bad?” Be funny in Nigel Farage turned out to be the man who saved Britain in Europe.
Of course, don’t forget the EU’s ability to be its own worst enemy. Watch how the latest row over EU money causes a sharp drop in support.