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Bush, Blair and respect

I was dismayed to read of Tony Blair being harassed by a member of The Wright Stuff audience on Five.

This is becoming almost a common occurrence — the hostile and cynical TV audience who haven’t a good word to say about anything the Prime Minister does.

I was at the inauguration of President Bush in Washington in January, and the contrast could not be starker. Some 265,000 people on the National Mall saw his swearing in and there was no booing, no slow hand-claps, no irate members of the general public demanding to have their say.

Americans, whether Democrat, Green or Republican, respect the office of the President and the scenes on The Wright Stuff would simply be unthinkable in the US, a nation that falls in line behind its President.

My question for Des Brown: Are you suggesting that challenging the leader in an open forum is a bad thing?

I didn’t see The Wright Stuff, but I did see Talk to the Prime Minister, and I have to say that it did occur to me that the programme was anything but balanced in terms of the selection of speakers. Just a few years ago, this would have been unthinkable – there would doubtless have been comparatively little criticism of the PM.

Yes, we should respect the office of Prime Minister, and perhaps we don’t do this enough. But we shouldn’t end up in an American situation, where to criticise the incumbent President is seen by a large sector of society as unpatriotic criticism of the country as a whole.

I think we are priveledged to be able to broadcast programmes like this, where we see the PM defend himself against the criticisms of the masses, and I think that this should, for the large part, be celebrated, not criticised.

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

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