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A wave of referendums coming our way?

By Angela Harbutt
December 14th, 2009 at 11:30 pm | 4 Comments | Posted in Culture, UK Politics

simon-cowell1YES, if Simon Cowell has his way……


In an interview with Newsnight this evening Simon Cowell admitted to giving serious thought to a political X Factor style show. In the interview he talks about picking a topic each show e.g “Should we be in or out of Afganistan and Iraq” ….”Knife crime” … (Capital Punishment???) , talking about it ( a bit vague on detail), a panel of “experts” to comment – and then “the public vote”.

What seems to tickle his fancy is the idea of “the people having their say”…well eventually . Ok what he probably means is telephone voting (a nice little earner for his company and the TV channel broadcasting the show no doubt) but the idea is intriging and will doubtless send waves of fear/excitement reverberating around Westminster. With a Simon Cowell show this would not be “a poll” of 900 people from some pre-selected panel, balanced by blah blah blah – this would be hundreds of thousands, millions possibly, making their views felt. Politicians doorstepped the next-day for their views on their party’s policies in light of the results……oh the chaos….

What sounded optimisitic was his idea that he could run 5 or 6 of these before the next general election (well that might prompt Gordon Brown to pull his finger out at least). But what Simon Cowell wants, Simon Cowell gets (can you really see a cash-strapped ITV turning down ANY Simon Cowell project right now?). 

This has a real chance of  getting off the ground. If he is serious….Cowell’s reputation would (a) almost certainly ensure that his programme would be snapped up by the lucky channel he talks to because  (b) Cowell’s reputation would undoubtedly guarantee substantial viewing figures to at least trialling it. After that it will down to just how good the show actually is – and he is as good as it gets – I cant see it being a turkey myself. 

Personally I liked the idea of the “red telephone” – enabling NO10 to call at any time during the show. Kirsty Wark could envisage Brown falling over Mandelson falling over Balls to get to the phone first … I am not so sure… but I can see Mr Hilton and David Cameron (as indeed Tony Blair would have) realising the wonderful opportunites that this might present. 

So could this be the new age of democracy?

Could Simon Cowell be the man needed to re-enage the public with politics? Will any of us like the answers the public gives us ? Could he actually achieve what Rupert Murdoch has tried so hard to do for soooooo long (financing loss making enterprises such as Sky News along the way) to influence politics in a significant way. The answer to the last question is yes, he could, and make money out of it. I have no doubt.

So brace yourselves, “Simon Cowell – the KING of Entertainment”, might just be set to be the “Simon Cowell – the most influential person in politics”. As Newsnight says…”The X man cometh”….

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Liberal Vision on Newsnight!

By Angela Harbutt
June 12th, 2009 at 9:32 pm | Comments Off on Liberal Vision on Newsnight! | Posted in UK Politics

Mark Littlewood will be on BBC2 Newsnight tonight at 2230

on Hazel Blears’ contrition.

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