The presenters on today’s roster, including Malty’s favourite Kirsty Wark, aren’t a patch on Lawson, and, though the likes of Michael Gove (soon to be wasted on Government) and Joe Queenan provide some relief, too often the pundit-sofas are stuffed with interchangeable Guardian columnists who insist on mentioning the ‘illegal war in Iraq’ in every sentence and all talk over each other in their haste to do it, with Sarah Churchwell the rudest and most breathless talk-overer. The show doesn't need to be broadcast live; I’m convinced the whole thing would be much better if it were pre-recorded over a few hours and then edited down, to reduce the sense of hurry.
That said, Friday’s episode was a good one, with the usual political ratio reversed and some Scottish bloke called Pat Kane the only left-leaning conspiracy theorist. Most socialists have a contemptuous, impatient hatred of the People and must put the enduring popularity of conservativism amongst them down to ignorance or brainwashing by a sinister elite. Quite probably it does not occur to Kane - it is not even a possibility in his universe - that people can be decent, sentient and broadly right-wing all at the same time. It was warming to watch his fellow guests poke fun at him, and David Aaranovitch got off a real zinger right at the end with this exchange:
Kane: The Republicans are quite explicit about the fact that the reason they have had an American hegemony is because they tapped into psychologically-based marketing techniques to be able to manufacture certain kinds of consent to certain kinds of agenda...
Aaranovitch: Or to put it another way, people agreed with them.