Question Time, Political Debate Shows….A waste of time?

Author – Hemant Chauhan

The general public have been conveyed with political talk shows for a long time.  Certainly, shows such as BBC Question Time, Prime Minister’s questions, Sunday Politics, The Andrew Marr Show, etc. have portrayed a type of ‘political correctness’, rather than putting forth issues that do not have a rational solution to them.  The author takes the, rather arguable, view that such shows are not productive, neither pragmatic to reality.

The people choose to identify themselves, perhaps on a subconscious level, with the political tradition juxtaposing liberalism.  Its main principles are that it emphasises the interests of the individual rather than the collective interests of the community.  The state exists only to protect the interests of the individual.  Individuals should be free and maintain an autonomous approach.  Liberalism attempts to place constraints on government in the interest of individual freedom and to give the individual an area of private life that is out of bounds for the state.  It seeks a constitution that free and equal people would rationally support.  The UK Constitution inherently adopts liberalism.

The people adopt this throughout their lives in western thought and western civilisation, in democratic nations.  The right to freedom of expression is crucial in a democracy – information and ideas help to inform political debate and are essential to public accountability and transparency in government.  Article 10 ECHR gives everyone the right to freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without State interference.

Yet, are shows a useful way of showing they are productive to society?  Certainly they evidence this libertarian, Article 10 approach.  It is the author’s view that it is not useful.  It provides a ‘flavour’ into political thought and the on-going discussion of certain issues, but there is no solution.  Simply, why debate for hours, days and weeks beyond, when no action is taken.  Are we all merely spectators to such entertainment?  Do we have any say in governmental issues, or are we bystanders?  Liberalism is not universally admired.  Indeed the desire for peace was the historical origin of liberalism as a response to the religious conflicts that disrupted Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Constitutionally speaking, Parliamentary questions have a significant role in the House of Commons.  They allow Members of Parliament to hold the Government to account, using either oral questions to Ministers in the Chamber of the House of Commons or written questions.  In other words, they are a type of ‘loose’ political convention.  In accordance with AG v Jonathan Cape [1975], conventions are rules or practices which are accepted as binding (to a greater or lesser extent) by those to whom they apply, which are not set out in any statute, and which are acknowledged, but not enforced, by the courts.  So conventions are morally binding but not enforceable legally.  Courts will do no more than recognise them.  We have an underlying ‘right’ to supervise the executive, and the right to question them.  Are such political conventions necessary?

We will view many political shows leading up to this ‘snap’ General Election.  The public will be overwhelmed with different views, and different tactics taken up by some of the major parties involved to defeat Conservative thought.  Many issues will be discussed, and many will be ‘promised’.  What is unsurprising, as with all elections, is that many issues will not be delivered as promised, and that we, the people, will be subject to more disappointment.

Thank you for reading, please follow LEGAL EAGLE for a view on politics and the law in a plain talking language. Updates on the general election campaign will be soon to follow…

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