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M.P. T.V. O.D

01-12-2006

The Stirrer's webmaster Andy Goff has obviously got too much time on his hands. Just take a look at what he's been watching on the box lately.

The Stirrer editor accuses me of being a saddo, but I have discovered some gripping television. No, not I'm a Celebrity… Get Me out of Here, but reality TV just the same. It's actually reality television at its best and most relevant: BBC Parliament!

If I put it on (Freeview channel 81) I am instantly hooked and it's a real problem to drag myself away.

This week I watched the brilliant Bob Marshall-Andrews demolish the government's plans to start doing away with trial by jury for “complex” fraud cases.

The policy involves the introduction of trial by judge as they are the best qualified to balance the complexities of fraud and are plainly more able than your average thick juror to convict on flimsy evidence.

There was a suggestion from the Solicitor General that there could be two judges involved in order to act as a balance in case Judge I was knobbled. As Bob pointed out, that's a re-creation of the jury system. Juries are there to act as a balance. They won't be doing the job again whereas a judge would be, and could be targeted.

I didn't understand all the legalities involved, but it renewed my faith in Parliament as a means of questioning the law makers. Would that the Palace of Westminster was filled with MPs of Bob Marshall-Andrews' calibre!

Later I watched a foreign affairs committee meeting from 8th November at which they questioned Carne Ross, a former diplomat heavily involved in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

He was inspiring and devastating in his criticism of both government actions and the lack of scrutiny by the committee.

He resigned from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office having lost faith in the basic honesty of the Government and questioned the need for a Foreign Office at all!

Ross gave a balanced, informed and illuminating view on the failures of British policy over Iraq and Afghanistan and confirmed that too little thought had been given to alternatives to war. In addition, too little thought had also been given to the aftermath of war.

All in all it was a gripping watch and I'm only sorry there isn't greater coverage given to what is said in Parliament. We live in an age of soundbite and spin which feeds the media but if more of us took the trouble to watch MPs in action maybe we wouldn't hold them in such low esteem.

Can't wait till tomorrow when Cbeebies gives over to MPBeebies!

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