INteractivity is the curse of modern media. “Talent” shows are littered with phone in votes, text messages (“FRED UR GR8.” “leeona, i luv u” “dont lissen 2 simon, u boyz r fanntaztic” you know the thing). And while this may be soon consigned to the dustbin of history due to the Charles van Doren-ish antics of the production companies, in their bid to con as much money as possible out of the stupid and the gullible. Even political shows encourage us to “join the debate”. RAdio 5 actively solicits stories throughout the day (presumably part of the cost-cutting in the forthcoming move to Manchester); the Radio 5 phone ins (at their nadir with the execrable Stephen Nolan at the weekend – “For goodness sake, man, it’s about poledancing children” (declaimed in a pronounced Northern Irish accent being a particular highlight the other week as I scrolled through my DAB radio hunting for thejazz)); Andrew Neil’s admirable The Daily Politics has occasional txt messages from the plebs to question the guests in the studio. Now occasionally this interactive element renders some gems (although the halcyon days of Call Nick Ross and Election Call are long gone – has anyone ever flustered a politician as much as Maggie was flustered on the sinking of the Belgrano). Generally, though, it means that a consistent forensic line of questioning is lost – allowing a politician to trot out a banal line before heading to the next unrelated question. Coupled with the regular “a representative of the government was invited to appear but the minister declined the opportunity” it is little wonder the populace feel disconnected with politics. So, how does the media respond. Well, Julian Worricker (a decent interviewer and personable broadcaster) was saddled with political awards in his Sunday morning show on Radio 5 Live. This attempt to humanise politicians, coupled with the award season, was singularly unsuccessful – apart from an entertaining interview with my favourite MP, Bob Marshall Andrews. Asking listeners to vote for the sexiest MP, the most stylish MP and the like tells us nothing about the process; and even the “satirical” “MP most likely to jump on a bandwagon” if not analysed in depth to explain the public perception adds little to the sum of human understanding.
Anyway, for what it’s worth: the winners
One To Watch
Most Stylish MP
MP Most Likely to Jump On A Bandwagon
Bob Marshall Andrews
Most Gaffe prone