We’ll come to the betting on the moderator below, but first a suggestion for
our major networks; the BBC, Sky and Channel 4 (ITV having resigned as a
serious broadcaster long ago). Don’t wait for the usual game of chicken to
run its course, with Andy Coulson warning David Cameron that he has
everything to lose, and Gordon dwelling on his YouTube gurnfest. Bounce the
buggers into it. Issue a joint statement that a debate will be broadcast, on
all channels a fortnight before the election, and that they and Nick Clegg
are invited. If they turn up, splendid. If not, they’ll be replaced by a
bespoke substitute for the Hatterslovian tub of lard?an outsized Lord
Charles puppet for Cam, perhaps, and a gigantic gnarled fingernail for
Gordo. All the power here lies with the media, if it only had the wit to see
it, and some gentle bullying is required. So we suggest an urgent
pan-network summit, followed by an instruction that work begin on
constructing the set. Build it, and they will come.
Don’t bet on it
As Evan Davis wistfully mentioned on Friday’s Today programme, neither he nor
his colleagues are among those mooted for the role of moderator so far.
Ridiculous, really. In any hour-and-a-half debate, James Naughtie’s
questions would take up no more than 83 minutes, as the bookies clearly
understand. The first show sees Ant ‘n’ Dec installed as 11-4 favourite,
with Jim next best on 11-2. Paxo and Kate Garraway are on sevens, with that
other ex-GMTV Chequers favourite Fiona Phillips next on 9-1. You can still
get tens from Paddy Power that the Dimbleby brothers will bring that Mike
and Bernie Winters aura to the debate. The morbid fear of John Humphrys,
self-evidently the correct choice, pushes him out to 12s, with Adam Boulton,
Vernon Kay, our own Steve Richards and the late Robin Day all on 16s.
Unusual betting patterns in the Methodist stronghold of Llanelli push Huw
Edwards in to 20s. It’s 33-1 bar those. The value bet is the man recently
commended as “the most acute political interviewer since Huffty left Channel
4’s The Word”. Jon Gaunt of SunTalk ? station motto: “Listeners? Meh!” ? can
be backed at an enticing 15,000-1.
Victoria’s cheap shot
Despite the humiliation of being moved back an hour to make way for Nicky
Campbell, Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC Radio 5 Live morning show prospers.
Tuesday’s feature, in which a prostate cancer sufferer’s wife appealed to
her warring children to reconcile, was majestic. It absolutely respects the
BBC ethos to invade Trisha’s territory like this. Best of all, as Victoria
read out the “get stuffed, Mum” email from the daughter, was the thought of
them high-fiving each other in the control room upon producing another
immortal moment in broadcasting history. Bless their hearts.
Party animal gets fried
I was distressed by Johann Hari’s brutal demolition of Andrew Roberts in
Friday’s edition of this paper. Johann made sound points about this “leading
historian”, not least his enjoyment of hospitality from those on the very
far right. What he failed to mention is Andrew’s status as the Raffles of
beach holiday history. He’s a gentleman amateur of a type sorely missed in
British public life today, his entrée into society predicated upon the
wealth that goes with being heir to a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise
fortune. In classic recessionary fashion, KFC has been thriving lately, and
he needs the book income less than ever. So it does enormous credit to
Andrew ? such an important reminder that social mobility hasn’t vanished
entirely ? that he bothers churning them out at all. Whatever Johann may
think, he will always be finger lickin’ good to me.
A fatal misunderstanding
More confusion at the Daily Mail, which responded to that law lords ruling by
taking a dim view of assisted suicide. The paper was careful not to overplay
its hand, restraining coverage to the splash, pages 6 and 7, and another
spread in its Life section. The entire leader column was also devoted to the
matter, concluding that enabling the desperately ill to die with dignity is
? what else?? a liberal establishment conspiracy. It’s odd. No media outlet
rails more about the intrusions of the “nanny state”. Can anyone cite a more
grotesque instance of that than the state preventing the loved ones of the
terminally ill from choosing the method and timing of their death?
Rosie left fallow
Commiserations to Rosie Boycott, finally, on the failure of her organic farm.
The process of recouping the £200,000 allegedly lost is underway and, by my
calculation, the debt will be cleared once the Mail has commissioned a
further 198 articles on this commercial disaster. Failing that, Rosie might
think of staying in agriculture. She’d have to do another about turn, and
the cost of the hydroponic lamps would require a loan. But “Old Rizzla” has
flipped on cannabis before, and the suppleness of her mind will permit her
to do so again.
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