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Friday, June 20, 2003

Representative democracy

I have always been a fan of representative democracy. I don't have much time for referendums - the public can never be as well informed as a semi-elite group, specialising in dealing with problems in depth from a highly detailed knowledge-base.

Indeed, I remember the late, greatly lamented Robert Maxwell saying how impressed he had been with the level of learning in the House of Commons. He may have been a crook, but he was often right on matters of this sort.

It was therefore rather disappointing to read here recently,
... a special edition of BBC2's University Challenge showed a team of Times journalists, including Michael Gove and Mary Ann Sieghart, wiping the floor with a team of MPs that included Austin Mitchell and Bill Cash.
Further research suggests that the remaining MPs were Lembit Opik and Helen Clark. I did not see the programme but I would have predicted the same result, given the MPs. Austin Mitchell is an amiable buffoon and Bill Cash's judgement about Europe reveals him as an inhabitant of another planet. Curiously, it is Opik who seems to have unearthly interests (“My specialist areas would be asteroids and the final frontier...", according to The Times).

A pretty depressing result, I'd have thought. Did Mad Max get it totally wrong or were the only MPs to volunteer for the programme all puff and no substance? I do hope that there are much better minds beavering away on our behalf in the Palace of Westminster.

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