Lots of controversy in the news at the moment about George Galloway, the far-left MP currently competing on Big Brother. The Guardian tried hard to find out who was dealing with constituents’ issues whilst George is busy being on the telly,* but could only get hold of his PR agent, who said she couldn’t really help.
Given that whilst he’s on Big Brother he can’t really be carrying out his day job of attending to Parliamentary business, I wondered if there’s anything in the parliamentary rules that specifically says you have to be available and contactable. The MPs’ Code of Conduct says:
Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside
individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
However, I’m not sure if this covers Mr Galloway’s antics. For one thing, although I’d think he could hardly be carrying out any official duties at the moment, “prevent” is hardly the same as “influence”. Moreover, this isn’t actually a rule. It’s merely a General Principle, which “will be taken into consideration when any complaint is received of breaches of the provisions in other sections of the Code.”
The only rule in the Code which might be cover “going on a game show for up to three weeks” is “bringing the House into disrepute”. Which, of course, is a catch-all clause which could cover virtually anything; it’s entirely down to the Standards and Privileges Committee‘s opinion. It seems that, as far as the letter of the law is concerned, there’s no problem with what Galloway is doing.**
* and is out of contact with the outside world, of course.
** and I have no idea of who to complain to if there was.
The cruel hoax TV series Space Cadets, which I wrote about recently is due to finish tonight. The contestants have successfully been made to look like idiots; and sadly, no aliens have been caught on camera.
As nobody went into space, you might not expect aliens to be caught on camera. However, as it happens, a huge number of UFO enthusiasts do believe that aliens have visited the site of the Space Cadets set. Twenty-five years ago this month, in fact. The incident – which has become known as the Rendlesham Forest incident – is often described as a classic UFO sighting, by impeccable witnesses,* even though it’s more likely to have been a sighting of a lighthouse, rather than a UFO. I’m slightly disappointed that, as far as I noticed, a mention of it wasn’t slipped into the programme.** If nothing else, the Rendlesham Forest incident is a wonderful example of how eye-witness reports can change over time, and how rumours can be spread. And, of course, how some people will believe almost anything.
It’s a shame that no aliens – if there were aliens, which is rather unlikely – decided to come back for a 25th-anniversary visit just whilst a film crew was in the area. It’s also a shame that the Space Cadets contestants weren’t a bit more alert – and/or paranoid, of course. Personally, I’m hoping that at least one of them will go a bit mad when everything is revealed at the Live Finale. It really would be can’t-stop-watching TV.
Update: sadly, they didn’t. They all seemed, as you might expect, rather baffled and overcome.
* a group of USAF airmen on two successive nights.
** although, in last night’s show, I was quite pleased to notice a joke about Johnny Vaughan’s time in prison.
Like, I imagine, many other people, I watched the first episode of the new Channel Four series Space Cadets with a slightly queasy feeling. If you’re foreign and haven’t heard about it – or if you’ve been in outer space, of course – it’s a show where former drug-dealer Johnny Vaughan* makes fun of the gullible and easily fooled, by persuading them they’re going to be Britain’s first reality-TV astronauts.
It’s a rather nasty hoax to pull on someone, even if they are a bit gullible. It’s only going to work – I mean, it’s only going to draw the audience in – if the contestants are so stupid that we all feel sorry for them; or are so nasty that we want them all to look like pillocks. At the moment that’s impossible to tell, because episode one – which was all about the audition and selection of the contestants – barely featured the actual contestants at all. Instead, most of the screen time was given over to the production stooges, and their efforts to look like genuine applicants.
I’m going to keep watching, even though I’m doubtful about the entire ethics of the thing. For one thing – like nearly all “reality tv” game shows – the first episode looked as if it will be completely unrepresentative of the series. For another, I’m going to be rooting for the contestants to see through the hoax – even if that does mean they won’t win any of the prize money.
* Referring to him as the former drug-dealer Johnny Vaughan is a rather mean and childish thing to do; but then, Space Cadets is a rather mean and childish show.