Now, I am going to have a last little rant, again, about Tim Montgomerie as concerns his appearance on 18DoughtyStreet: Tim has said that he appreciates comments: well, fine, I will make them at The Kitchen with my customary prolixity rather than clogging up the Doughty Street blogs with long sentences and swearwords.
Now, I am not deliberately picking on the man but, as he does do a good deal of presenting, the things that annoy me tend to build up. A bit like mercury in the human nervous system. And I intend to be as robustly honest as always.
Tim Montgomerie is not good at presenting—or, rather, chairing—group programmes. He spends the vast majority of his time staring fixedly at his PowerBook (one can hardly blame him too much: it is beautiful) and seemingly ignoring his guests. For much of the time, this is not a problem; however, on some occasions it is.
At one point (on Wednesday, I think), a fat MP called another guest, Donal, "far right" because he believed in tax cuts; Donal petulantly objected. And the conversation went swinging back and forth in the most tediously pointless way, whilst Montgomerie kept staring at his computer. For the rest of the programme, the fat, talentless MP rambled on and on and on, saying absolutely nothing of worth and behaving as though he were going for some kind of fucking philibustering record. Again, absolutely no control of the discussion was forthcoming from "the chair". Yes, it is good to have a freeform show that encourages a bit of a chat, but the chair has to realise when the argument is no longer being advanced and move to shut down the pointless hectoring and change the subject.
Contrast this with Iain Dale, who generally takes an active interest in the proceedings, volunteers opinions and tries to keep the whole discussion flowing. He checks his computer only rarely and sits it on the table in front of him, out of the way.
Montgomerie's interviews are better, although they tend towards the fawning; one wonders if, like the BBC, he is scared that if he picks guests up on certain points that 18DS will end up with no guests. Quite possibly, I suppose, but why no mention of the EU's role in our trade negotiations with Stephen Twigg? In the end, Twigg is a bit of a nobody: he may still have an axe to grind, but do 18DS really care about the sensitivities of an ex-NuLabour MP?
Why no indepth examination of the Darfur aid issue? After all, it was pretty much 18DS's own tame pundits on there: they are hardly going to boycott the show, are they?
Why so little discussion of actual defence with Liam Fox? I know that he is still part of the Conservative inner circle, but the Tories need all of the media friends that they can get, right now.
I know that Tim is a Conservative, but many people out here are still swithering: they want to know that the Tories can, in fact, walk the walk. I am aware that 18DS have declared their allegiances but you cannot be too partisan or you lose all credibility. This is a fact that I have been very wary of at The Kitchen: I, too, have declared my allegiance but that does not and will not stop me criticising and questioning UKIP and their policies if I think that they are wrong or need considered amplification (I did this so well, in fact, that one of the main authors of UKIP's Education document [PDF]—whom I met in Bournemouth after my dissection had been forwarded to him—assumed that I hated the whole thing).
In the end—and this is aimed at all of the 18DS presenters, not just Tim—if you are simply going to stick to your guests' agendas, not ask awkward questions and not probe indepth then you are simply going to broadcast precisely the same lack of insight as any other TV station but at a million times the length. And that will just be fucking dull.