Dear George Galloway
Last night you blew it on Question Time. You allowed yourself to be drawn into an ugly squabble – deeply personal in tone – with David Aaronovitch.
George, you’ve just won an extraordinary victory in Bradford-West. Aaronovitch is the very definition of ‘yesterday’s man’. You don’t need to take this no-mark under your notice. His opinion was once sought and valued, briefly, when he was that most curious of things, an apparent Left-winger willing to act as a cheerleader for the ‘war on terror’. And we all now know how that worked out, bringing the judgement of people like Aaronovitch into serious question to boot.
I suspect that he was invited onto Question Time only because you were. The BBC were banking on the two of you providing ‘good TV’; hoping that fireworks would fly between you. The very seating arrangements were a clue – with you one end of the table and Aaronovitch the other.
As the BBC abandons all semblance of public service responsibilities it won’t care that such clashes generate more heat than light, just as long as it gives the impression of the cut and thrust of debate on what has become a tired TV format.
Fireworks? It was all a bit of a damp squib really. You see, the audience at home, and in the studio, know who you are: you’re that bloke off Celebrity Big Brother! But I doubt many people could identify David Aaronovitch if he was presented in a police-style line-up of journalists and commentators. They know little and couldn’t care less about him. Yet at one point you seemed determined to share his every biographical detail with us: his association with Blair, Murdoch and the Communist Party!
And yet the audience were unmoved, probably because they recall the old CPGB with a degree of affection – after all, for an ‘enemy within’ they compare quite well with the homegrown Al-Qaeda operatives that lurk in the public imagination today.
Your combative spirit is fine, George, when you’re addressing the issues but when you turn it to personal invective then you expose your own individual actions to scrutiny and you’re weak there.
You recovered the situation a little as the show went on, mainly because you spoke to the issues and ignored Aaronvitich, which you should have done from the start. But note-to-self, George: the mainstream media want to make you the story at every opportunity. Don’t open the door to that.
All the best,