Question Time: Eastleigh, 28th February

Angela Eagle and Claire Perry in Eastleigh

Angela Eagle and Claire Perry in Eastleigh

Having roundly battered Question Time the other week when launching its reluctant bid to cover it now and again to keep up with the political mainstream, the Bemolution found the first episode it watched in ages reasonably interesting.

The Setting: Eastleigh, Hampshire, unsurprisingly, on the day of the obsessed over by-election to replace newly-disgraced Lib Dem Chris Huhne. Mostly leafy and affluent, it tends to bounce between the Tories and the Liberals.

The Background: Huhne, narrowly beaten by Nick Clegg to the Liberal leadership in 2007 and until very recently one of the party’s highest fliers, pled guilty to perverting the course of justice earlier this month. Years previously, he’d made his ex-wife take the legal flak for speeding offences he had committed himself to protect his political career. He consistently denied the allegations for months but eventually came clean, resigning as both Coalition energy and climate change secretary and Eastleigh MP. Continue reading

Questionable Use of Time

dimblebyFor those as yet blissfully unaware, Question Time is the BBC’s flagship topical debate programme, and it’s often a harrowing, exasperating, sanity-imperilling watch.

The Bemolution, it has to be said, harbours an intense dislike for all things QT. Really, it’s a way for a self-obsessive, unrepresentative and largely untouchable political caste to tick the ‘public engagement’ box while continuing to live in Westminster la-la land. Important People – predominantly rich white male metropolitan Important People – are asked questions by an audience of electors. But the questions are vetted beforehand to ensure they stick to whatever the mainstream media is presenting as the Burning Issues Of The Day. Anything outside of the Westminster-fixated corporate-friendly mainstream news agenda is rejected. Continue reading

Grisly Arithmetic – ignorance, apathy and humanitarian disaster

starving-children1The Bemolution is staunch in its grouchy belief that the worst thing about civilisation is how sickeningly easy it is for one group of human beings to ignore the abject suffering of another. Horrendously, it’s not just socially acceptable to ignore the suffering of others – determined ignorance is society’s default position.

Bawling about injustice, inequality, poverty and war is a highly adaptable way of committing conversational suicide in an excellent range of social situations. For disastrously many, far-off suffering just doesn’t compute. People are puzzled at the notion they should know or care about humanitarian catastrophe, let alone try and do something about it. We’re conditioned not to criticise the world we find ourselves in beyond impotently grumbling, and we shrink from anything too bleak or upsetting that might make us question the way things are.

Given what goes on on our planet, this is very bad. It’s this blog’s position that a less horrific world, if it ever arrives, isn’t just going to be about dry economics. Bypassing our ingrained individual selfishness would require nothing less than a grand, socialism-enabling ethical overhaul – more specifically, a major compassion transfusion.

And thus, to further its pseudo-Buddhist fixation with suffering, the Bemolution is going to start a new item on the reasons why the world needs to shoved, firmly, in a less humanly disastrous direction.

Crudely, it’s going to have a go at roughly working out just how many members of our species have died unnecessarily over the previous 30 days or so, and how many are wobbling on the brink. It will try and highlight particularly grotesque humanitarian crises in an effort to spread the word. And it will spend considerable time moping about the horror of it all.

Forcing yourself to dwell on the suffering of others, no matter how personally unpleasant that might be for you as an individual, is a most vigorous way of exercising your empathy muscles. Buddhists have been doing it for over a thousand years.

Trying to comprehend the anguish of other people, and imagining yourself and those you like in those same terrible situations, is a way of training yourself to be more compassionate – and, on the side, of battering down the daft cultural barriers that mean we don’t see far-flung suffering as our concern, and only show basic human decency within driving distance, if that.

And now, to end, the Bemolutionary theme tune.