Vapid Big Brother gossip currently dominates the conversations of colleagues, commuters and pub goers, and the subject is invariably George Galloway, who was finally removed from the Big Brother house this week. The general consensus tends towards a negative reaction to the MP’s contribution to the hit television show. Galloway would, for his part, argue the following: that he had embarked on a public relations exercise in order to pro-actively attempt to reach young people and help them connect with politics. That several of the words in that sentence could, and perhaps should, have been mockingly presented in inverted commas is reflective of the vacuous and ill-considered nature of this exercise, a point which has been discussed at length already. It would seem, however, that the British people, be they young or old, do not like to be patronised. The singular condescension of Mr Galloway’s involvement with Celebrity Big Brother is clearly not lost on most right-thinking people.
What is truly sad is that it is seemingly only with the assistance of a venomous campaign by a fully mobilised mass media, that the public feel sufficiently emboldened to spot what they consider to be a fraud. A debate rages on in relation to the completely irrelevant issue of whether Mr Galloway was in fact being paid his normal wages for his work as an MP for the duration of his three weeks in the Big Brother house. No such debate even threatens to appear in relation to the endless junketing by politicians on the right or centre. Nor are there any indications that the right wing press are to begin a campaign to expose the nature and extent to which those politicians find themselves conflicted and compromised by their positions on company boards, and the amount of parliamentary and surgery time ultimately sacrificed to accommodate their outside business interests. While Galloway only has himself to blame for this entire debacle and the marginalisation which will probably follow, it is clear that patronising or conning people is, as a rule, not considered a capital offence by an increasingly passive and well-managed electorate.
The con-artist who has Rupert Murdoch on his side will never be scrutinised with quite the same degree of cynicism. One is reminded of the Prime Minister’s cringing appearance on Football Focus, during which he remarked, in all seriousness, that he has been particularly impressed with the form of Portsmouth defender Arjan De Zeuw and Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque. It was, of course, wholly implausible that Mr Blair would ever have found the time to watch enough matches involving either of these unfashionable Premiership clubs to make such a judgement. It is a symptom, not only of the Prime Minister’s brazen mendaciousness, but also of our national cultural malaise, that the Whitehall advisers involved in scripting this spectacle did not consider it to be way beyond the bounds of pragmatic common sense. While this sort of invidious passivity remains, the self-assured swagger of stultifyingly ill-informed individuals attacking a Murdoch-approved villain is as derisory as it is cowardly.