Monday, January 22, 2007

The Westminster Hour: A Review

Anyone that knows me will know that I am usually a few minutes late for appointments - not in the Boris Johnson class, but late nevertheless. So to have arrived at my speaking engagement this morning 15 minutes early is a proud achievement indeed. Anyway it gives me time to praise a BBC political programme - no, don't fall off your chair in amazement.

Last night I listened to the Westminster Hour for the first time in a very long time. Sundays at 10pm is not a time I am normally listening to the radio, but I stayed overnight at Doughty Street last night. Carolyn Quinn has taken over from Andrew Rawnsley as the presenter. Her first interview was with Hazel Blears. She seemed more relaxed than usual and actually addressed Quinn's questions rather than come out with the expected New Labour line to take. Unlike her TV colleague Andrew Marr, Carolyn Quinn was determined to get some answers out of Blears on Cash for Peerages and to an extent she succeeded, without getting anything hugely newsworthy. She then had two MPs to preview the week ahead, followed by a couple of other features including a ten minute piece by Dennis Sewell on localism.

All in all I found the Westminster Hour a breath of fresh air. It has a presenter who knows her political onions, asks good questions but remains pleasant and more importantly supports West Ham. It covers issues which are of equal interest to the Westminster village and the world outside but more importantly is a political programme without a political agenda.

If they're not careful I will become a regular listener.

PS This positive review has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they mentioned this blog three times. No, Siree. Do you think I'm bought that easily?!

19 comments:

Howard said...

The programme has had a lift since Quinn joined, and the discussion is a welcome addition. The highlight for me is the Sunday Supplement. Iain, you should listen to some of the back broadcasts. Walden is superb. In the main it is the best of the Radio political programmes. Another is Politics UK on the World Service. Get with it Iain.

Anonymous said...

It was good I agree. Today back to thier old tricks this morning allowing some dweeb to get away with announcing Council tax will rise by less than inflation.

Reality is it is actually going up 3.5% which is higher than the CPI which the government use rather than RPI which is more accurate and is at 4.4%. So its above the figure they always use, another feeble attempt at spin.

Sabretache said...

Your blogg piece on the Home Office break-up announcement was mentioned in the program intro too eh? - to the derision of the apparatchik that was asked to comment on it.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth does everyone have to be judged by the fact they supposedly support some football club or other. Not everyone follows football

Anonymous said...

Think it was Iain

Anonymous said...

I can't stand Quinn's bossiness and interruptions on Today. I dreaded her taking over The Westminster Hour but she was far better on there, not strident, courteous and listening/weaving through the argument. Why the difference?

Anonymous said...

I miss listening to the BBC World Service ,it seems every body who has had charge of it ,has mucked about with it so much ,I think they have taken the heart out of it

Anonymous said...

Iain, don't you dare come up with excuses for being a fan of Carolyn Quinn - she is ace ! Like Eddie Mair, she is from the late, great Nick Clarke school of journalism.

By the way, Charlie Chipmunk wasn't her first interviewee - she started back on WH last week, and interviewed Jack Straw - who is one of the few Nu Labour types who can actually give a straight answer to a straight question.

Just don't ever call her Caroline though, you won't get out of there in one piece !!!

Londoner said...

It's always been a good programme in my view - I listened last night and, to be honest, forgot that there was a new presenter. It is regrettable that she suffers from the lack of taste of supporting West Ham, but you really should not undermine her by publishing such details.

One of the programme's advantages is its lack of hurry, being a full hour. It's also quite often made news - Clare Short on the Iraq war being a notable example.

I am surprised that an inhabitant of the digital age has not usually listened just because of the time of the programme - try "listen again" on the BBC website, Iain.

Chuck Unsworth said...

Not quite that cheap then, Iain? Anyway, are West Ham supporters preparing to form a socio-political movement - or maybe they have already in secret. Is this like the Masons or can anyone join without being asked?

Anonymous said...

howard - agree Brian Walden is worth his weight in gold - his feature on the difference between 'multicultural' and 'multicultural-ism' was worth the licence fee in itself.

If only he, or Carolyn Quinn, could also be persuaded to take over from Mogadon on the old 'David Frost' slot.

Anonymous said...

What was the name of the labour mp who helped preview this week in Westminster? I was struck by her response to a question about Peter Hain et al coming out at this late stage against the Iraq misadventure.

She said "isn't hindsight wonderful".

But my Labour MP, Steven Byers, knew before the invasion that Saddam did not present the kind of threat to this country that would justify a war. He knew that Saddam had no significant WMD. He knew, because it was said in parliament, that many people, myself included, could see the potential for disaster in Iraq, exactly along the lines we now see.

Caroline Quinn acquiesced in this, and of course the Tory MP wasn't saying anything, and history was duly rewritten.

So Quinn is going to have to do better before I give her the status of a Nick Clarke.

Anonymous said...

This is Iain's site and he can say what he likes. But I entirely agree on the football point. Not everyone is passionate about it or even likes it. Some people cannot stand it though I suspect many of them don't object to the game so much as the manner of its coverage. Whilst many people are like Iain and really do love the game I suspect a large number of people are less passionate than they claim. (And on a related point, I do dislike the current overuse of the word "passionate" for just about everything.The word has lost its meaning.)

Little Black Sambo said...

The Westminster Hour at its best is enjoyable for the same reasons as 18DS.

TomTom said...

I cannot stand Carolyn Quinn's intonation - her voice rises at the wrong point and sounds insinuating.

The programme is okay - I have listened to it for a long time and was not happy that Quinn got it. As for Eddie Mair he would do well to drop his sneer

Anonymous said...

I agree Tomtom. She also sounds like she's smoked fifty ciggies.

Anonymous said...

You see, if the BBC had any sense, then podcasting the Westminster Hour would be a good idea. I often forget it's on, so getting it automatically overnight ready for the Monday commute would be a good use of the annual telly fee. It's one of the best programmes on the air, Weekend Business on Five Live being another, and the BBC doesn't podcast that either.

Frank Lee Speaking said...

A worthy review. Quinn is much better, less shrill, than on Today and the Qatar Airways advert but has yet to prove a match for Rawnsley (give her time). The prog has been a "must hear" for me for years and beats the mind-numbing Sunday telly content hands down. It's the perfect complement to Sunday evening working. Try the 9-10pm Radio 4 slot on Sunday also.

Anonymous said...

Dear Howard,

The editor and presenters of Politics UK would like to thank you for listening and we're glad you enjoy the programme