Posted by: secretperson | May 2, 2008

Toynbee and Littlejohn Need Their Own Show

Before the election night special, I watched some Question Time. On it were the biggest left-wing commentator, the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee, and the biggest right-wing commentator, the Mail’s Richard Littlejohn. These are both quite far to their ends of the political spectrum, and hate figures for their respective opposite sides.

David Dimbleby managed to keep them apart for most of the time, but I almost expected to see a Jerry Springer style chair fight at one point. Littlejohn accussed Toynbee of being out of touch with people on average wages when she defended high taxes, she retorted that he was hardly on average wages, and he responded with a reference to her flying to her villa in Tuscany. Then Polly decided it was best not to get too personal.

William Hague (who also should have his own show, very interesting man) observed that polticians were politer than journalists. But I have to say, when being unpolite, more entertaining. Remember Vince Cable’s Mr Bean joke? Expressed politely but cutting.

Anyway, I may write to the BBC, asking if we can have a weekly show where Toynbee and Littlejohn insult each other. Certainly more interesting than Des “two jobs” Browne or Ed “not even the best politician with the name” Milliband.


  1. I hate both of them – Toynbee was in the SDP if I recall correctly, and Littlejohn is just Kelvin Mackenzie but not nearly as charming or witty.

    As for Hague and Cable – now that’s a show I’d watch. The two are always amusing…

  2. Oh yes, I understand Charlie, I was going for a sort of gladiatorial spectacle rather than the reasoned debate of two more intelligent, and less angry people. I am also a fan of Hague and Cable.

    I can’t think of any of the Labour bunch who would interest me though. Frank Field is one I respect, but I don’t know how entertaining he’d be?

  3. I respect Field’s positions on the EU and on English devolution – and the 10p tax abolition. He’s a bit dry, mind you – a face better for radio, bless him.

    I’ve a lot of respect for Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, mind.

  4. I suppose I like Field because he seems like a Tory (although more of the Cameroon persuasion than me) but also because he seems to stick up for what he believes rather than acting in self interest.

    Your choices are good too, a bit left for me, but basically honest.

    If there is one thing I really hate it is people who say what they think you (or party leaders) want to hear, and really partisan types who wouldn’t criticise their own party if they committed genocide.

    Th front bench is often bad for forcing people into this. If we could strengthen parliament compared to government I hope there would be more independent back benchers.

  5. I thought the most biting comment from Littlejohn was when he confronted Toynbee on her sending her children to private schools despite being a vociferous champion of our state education system. It is so rare to see the likes of Toynbee challenged on their rank hypocrisy and ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ attitude. I was disappointed that she was allowed to mumble an answer and change the subject.

  6. I don’t have children – and perhaps this is why I am puzzled at private education. If I had the money spare and if I had kids – I sure as hell wouldn’t be spending it on them when there’s local schools they can go to that I’ve already paid for in taxes!

    As for parliament being strengthened – this is very important, but probably depends upon electoral reform to ensure that if the winning party gets a minority share of the vote, it doesn’t get a majority of seats (as happened in 2005, and could happen for the Tories when and if there’s a general election). I am in favour of MPs being paid the wage of the average worker with no privileges (like the discount booze in the bar and the John Lewis list!) and being subject to recall by their electorate, should a fixed percentage of constituents sign a petition. I think these two things would ensure that MPs are in touch with the real world economically and must take seriously their constituents views rather than following the party line. I must say though that I think the role of MPs in Parliament should be to raise important issues and to draft legislation -ideally the general public should be given the final say on approving policies. I’m big on direct democracy, though not that admiring of Direct Democracy, if you get my drift.

  7. Well Charlie I don’t have kids either, but I think when I do I would be willing to do anything to give them the best start, not worry about whether I had already spent the money. If my local state school was rough, or my kid was being bullied, or very smart and I thought they needed the special attention a private school can offer I would be tempted. If I could afford it, of course.

    I totally agree on the right of recall, we need to make MPs more accountable. Anything that weakens the party system would be good too.

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