We are in the middle of a major crisis in our nation, and at long long last, after 10 weeks since the Coronavirus first arrived in our nation (albeit unknown at the time when it arrived in East Sussex), the two largest national political parties have finally agreed to work together. Yesterday, after Corbyn stepped down as leader of the Labour Party, Johnson finally got around to writing to what we have been told is the leaders of all of the other parties to ask them to work together.
‘As party leaders we have a duty to work together during this time of national emergency. Therefore, I would like to invite all leaders of opposition parties in Parliament to a briefing with myself, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser next week. I want to listen to your views and update you on the measures we have taken so far, such as rapidly expanding testing and providing economic support to businesses and individuals across the country.’
It remains to be seen how many parties will have actually received his letter – given that no one I know has received the letter he promised to send to the whole of our nation a week ago. It also seems strange that it has taken him 10 weeks to grasp that working together is a way forward. However perhaps more importantly, how many of those party leaders will attend the session he has organised? Reflecting over the last 10 weeks of Question Time and Any Questions that the rest of us have access to, the approach by the BBC was to focus almost exclusively on the two largest political parties and then to invite a number of other people who are either political commentators or experts in a range of fields to sit near them or alongside them. Over this time the TV Question Time has profiled Matt Hancock 3 times and has given two seats to the SNP MPs and two to Lib Dem MPs and across the same period Radio 4 Any Questions has given two seats to the SNP and one to the Liberal Democrats. Any Questions was a bit more extreme back at the end of January when they had two Labour Party and two Tory Party members and no one else at the table and so they appeared to compensate for that at the end of February by having no formal politicians which in a way seemed like a good approach. So what will next weeks arrangement look like?
If the Political Parties are going to be radical and start working together, which for me seems to be very important, perhaps what could take place now for the Any Questions or Question Time could reflect this. What is needed is to limit the MPs and Ministers to one at a time and allow people such as Council Leaders (CEOs), Leaders of agencies such as the Police, Fire and Rescue, NHS, Ambulance, and then the Charitable Sector and Businesses along with one or two members of the public from different age groups to begin to challenge the MPs or Ministers on how they are working together. I wonder if Fiona Bruce and Chris Mason would also work together so that the failure to answer a question or respond to a challenge on the Thursday night TV programme by one person could be picked up with focusing on a different collaborative MP or Minister on Friday night on the Radio?
That suggested according to the Mentorn website (they produce Question Time): Got an idea? – Mentorn does not accept unsolicited format ideas. so perhaps it won’t happen!