Friday, September 30, 2005

God makes a monkey out of Green

If Stephen Green thinks evolution couldn’t make a man out of an ape, then one hopes that this morning he is contemplating how he managed to make a monkey out of himself – which he did with little effort on the BBC’s Question Time with David Dimbleby last night.

And, I’m sure he would consider that this was his god’s will with good grace.

While the BBC still ought to consider whether publishing the personal details of private individuals and threatening to prevent a cancer charity from being able to carry out its work should be rewarded with the “credibility” of being on Question Time, those who worried that Green might use this platform to good effect needn’t have worried.

The sum total of his on-screen talk time was scarcely six minutes and 2½ of those minutes were attempts to defend his disgraceful behaviour to an unconvinced panel and audience and the rest were squandered in aimless meandering around the topic trying to introduce Jesus into the discussion.

It kicked when he tried to suggest that the police new terror legislation might be abused by the police. Fair enough. But then he tried to suggest that he and Christian Voice were a victim of it. Dimbleby jumped in and pointed out that this was a bit rich coming from a man who was not averse to using “strong-arm tactics” themselves and who had “well ‘bullied’ I think is the right word” a cancer charity.

“We didn’t bully them..” he started

“Pah!” exclaimed Janet Street Porter

“You threatened to picket them” said Dimbleby

“Not picket – ‘witness’” whined Green

“Oh, we’ll have ‘secondary witnessing’ next; that’ll be the new slogan” smirked Patricia Hewitt.

The audience shuffled.

In fact, for the entire programme, he got little applause or support from the audience at all. This, despite his email appeal to his (alleged) 50 000 supporters who he tried to dragoon into service to pack the Brighton audience.

In fact, when he did try to play the populist card by making an oblique reference to “the rest of us” it got the biggest applause of the programme – but not for him, but for Janet Street-Porter turned on him. “What do you mean ‘the rest of us’” she demanded. “You mean the people who have signed up for your minority group!”

She went on to say that the god she believed in was more robust than to be phased by a stage show.

Simon Hughes joined in saying that as an evangelical Christian himself, he condemned the bullying and intimidation techniques used by Christian Voice.

Indeed, Dimbleby and the panel at times seemed visibly frustrated with his time-wasting, irrelevant and inane contributions – most of which were prefaced with scriptural non sequiturs. For example, when asked what he thought of privatisation within the NHS, he stammered:

“As the lord Jesus commands us to heal the sick, this is very much a Christian issue…”

He then meandered around the point aimlessly, obviously trying to find away to turn it into a platform for one of his hobbyhorses. Finally he managed this:

“I find it sad that Hospitals which should be a place of healing are being used to destroy human life. What should…”

He was cut off by a visibly exasperated Dimbleby who snapped:

“Are you for or against the private sector coming into the NHS?”

Trying to recover – and perhaps scrape a little populist furrow – he started rambling on about private sector contracts only going to those to donate to political parties or have relatives in the administration. Patricia Hewitt sneered, Simon Hughes and Ken Clarke looked puzzled, and Dimbleby looked as if his patience was at an end.

“This may not be true, but those are the stories that seem to come out” he hedged.

This comment might make a wonderful blurb on the back of this new abbreviated bible, but it is certainly not up to the standard of contribution expected on a high-profile topical discussion programme. Thankfully, from that point his contributions were limited.

I suppose out of politeness more than anything, Dimbleby returned to Green one last time – his final opportunity to salvage his appearance that he’d hoped would show his ragtag bunch of theological bullies would be “taken seriously by the establishment”. Well, it was a belly flop. The subject was climate change and the news that the polar icecaps were melting at a disturbing rate. The exchange was high-comedy:

Green: Well, the Earth is the Lord’s and I’m sure he’s in control…
Dimbleby: In control?
Green: I’m sure he’s in control.
Dimbleby: So, the melting icecaps are part of his plan?
Green: Don’t worry, don’t worry, it worries and challenges me!

Oh boy!

If you missed the fun, you can watch it again on the BBC’s website. But it only stays up for a week, so don’t delay.


At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That'll be David Dimbleby, not Jonathan!

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Brett Lock said...

"Oops" as they say in the trade. Thank you, well spotted, fixed.

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Marc said...

Yes, I mix those two up all the time too!

Super post mortem of the relevant parts of the show, Brett. First class TV too!

At 2:49 PM, Blogger Disillusioned kid said...

I was watching it around a friend's house. I'm not sure if they turned if off because they actually were tired or if they were just sick of me shouting at the TV.

I did remember, though, why I almost never bother with Question Time. Does anybody really care about the opinions of people they have on it? Is anyone really interested in the platitudes trotted out by the audience? Not me.

Good post by the way.


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