Friday, 9 July 2010

Now we know who Moore is - the new bogeyman

We've all had that morning after feeling when we wake up and hope that the events of the previous evening were just a nightmare.

Unfortunately for Michael Moore the BBC have invented i-player so he can see himself being booed and barracked and told "to get a grip" by an Edinburgh audience on Question Time all over again.

It was Moore's first major public outing on behalf of the coalition government, and boy did the Secretary of State get a measure of what the Scottish public make of his pact with the Tories.

When he was confronted by a young woman who faces homelessness because of cuts in housing benefit he didn't really have an answer.

It was the sight of a man perplexed. In his heart Moore is on her side, in his coalition deal he is cutting her benefit and creating more economic problems for the poor of the country than he will ever solve.

It is the story of the Lib Dems in one toe-curling piece of television. A few minutes later Moore was booed by the audience, a fairly rare event on Question Time.

Ironically, sitting next to Moore was the Conservative peer Michael Forsyth, who until last night was reckoned to have been the most unpopular Secretary of State for Scotland. The body language was interesting. Forsyth just sat back and watched Moore take the flak, I didn't see them operating as a team.

For the Lib Dems this is frightening. Their Conservative colleagues may pour oil in their ears that their majorities are big enough in Scotland to withstand any erosion of their vote because of the consequences of the brave but unpopular decisions they have to make. Last night's viewing signals a different story.

The mistake Moore kept making is using defensive language about "difficult decisions" and expecting to get credit for it. People know that politics is actually about difficult choices, and Moore saw last night that his party might have made the wrong one.

Great audience, by the way, that kept the panel on their toes, all of them, and didn't go parochial as Question Time sometimes goes when it tours Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

And I love the cut-aways that caught Moore and Forsyth sneering at Ed Byrne, the Irish comedian on the panel, before he had opened his mouth properly.

Yet, agree with him or not, Byrne wiped the floor with the pair of them in getting his point and his politics across.

It's called communication and in that race Moore lost out. The night was won by the woman from Edinburgh who floored him with one blow and told the Secretary of State to "get a grip".

UPDATE: I hear the Lib Dem leader of Liverpool City Council is warning today that the party will disappear inside five years thanks to the coalition with the Tories.

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