As is customary last night was TV night. I thought Extra's went further down the road of cringe which may turn me off it in the end. While a lot of humour is derived from awkward situations half an hour of cringing is not the same as half an hour of belly laughs. Mitchell and Webb continues to be top notch stuff as well as Mock the Week.
Question Time promised to be a good one with both Oliver Letwin and Ian Hislop. The first question went straight into the furore over Jack Straw's veil comments. I'm glad it came up. As I've mentioned before I think it's important these sort of issues get debated. One thing that is guaranteed to increase divisions in society is people not talking to each other and left to form their own ideas of the "other side" without honest discussion. It seem however the audience had more than it's fair share of Daily Mail reading closet racists. No one used the phrase "I'm not a racist but..." but there was plenty of references to "they" and "them" trying to paint the whole Muslim com unity as one amorphous blob of fundamentalists. Luckily Hislop was quick to jump on that and there were a few Muslim audience members that pointed out how varied dress practise can be. All in all the panel gave will reasoned views without playing on peoples fears. I have to say given the bashing I gave Mr Straw last week his performance on Today this morning came across as very honest and sincere. Hopefully the wider debate will be to. For the record I don't think its taboo to ask for someone to remove their veil as long as the persons wishes if they don't want to are respected. I take the point that it is a barrier to social interaction though, I would be uncomfortable approaching someone in the street for directions if they were covered head to toe save for a pair of eyes. Although I'm happy for people to dress how they want there are always some places where a persons choice may be compromised, for example school uniforms, formal ID and health and safety issues.
This Week's fun was enhanced by a smattering of Boris and the exceptionally right wing Peter Hitchens. His main thesis was that the Tories where denying a substantial portion of the electorate a viable right wing alternative by their move towards the centre ground. One of the more laughable points was they could of one the last two elections if they had campaigned on Europe and immigration "with real conviction". Both Portillo and Abbot pointed he could go and vote for UKIP. The irony of Peter's statement that they were not a "viable party" seemed to be lost on him. I think it's quite clear the electorate want their parties to be more centrist. I don't buy into the idea you need a ideological gulf between left and right for parties to successfully differentiate themselves on centrist policies. We shall find out if I'm right in a few years :-)