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Saturday, November 11, 2006

The wrong Thomas

Politicians are often envious of the amount of public participation in reality TV shows such as Big Brother. These programmes attract millions of voters and, more significantly, the profile of these voters reflects a group of people who do not normally participate in elections.

The two votes are of course not comparable, and nor should they be. The business of electing political representatives, who are charged with using their intellect and judgement to legislate and govern, is nothing like the beauty contest that reality show contestants submit themselves to. The outcome of the first is complex, achieving only gradual change, whilst the latter provides instant results and often black and white choices.

In these circumstances politicians who try to switch over to the reality show genre often offer themselves up for ridicule, whilst also potentially confusing the process of government with entertainment. George Galloway is the prime example of this. He went onto Celebrity Big Brother in the hope of getting his message across to a wider audience only to find that the producers were not interested in allowing him to espouse his views, they wanted to entertain the viewers.

The latest example of a politician being pushed aside in favour of a local celebrity therefore should surprise nobody. After all who wants to come and see a mere Assembly Member switch on the Christmas lights at the local Asda when a Big Brother contestant is available instead?

Nobody is suggesting that Labour AM, Catherine Thomas was seeking publicity in initially agreeing to carry out the task, although with a majority of only 21 she needs all the exposure she can get, however she is entitled to feel a little hard done by at being elbowed aside to so as to accommodate Imogen Thomas instead.

Still she does have the consolation of leading a team of six Cairngorm reindeer into the St Elli Shopping Centre for their switching-on of lights on Wednesday, November 15. Presumably, all the available celebrities drew the line at this opportunity.
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