Biased Brazen Contemptible? Oh, that’s just this Tory beauty contest…

DISTANT cousins in perpetual outrage, the Mail and the Express are fuming today about the BBC leadership debate (Our Next Prime Minister, presumably because That’s What I Call A Shitshow Shower was too long – yesterday’s Ledge).

Both papers, along with the Sun and the Boris Bulletin (previously known as the Daily Telegraph), accuse the BBC of having run a biased, anti-Tory debate. I will take a deep breath before trying to navigate that one.

How, when the BBC news is wall-to-wall Tories, when every bulletin comes loaded and larded with Boris Johnson, can the BBC be accused of anti-Tory bias – or what the Mail’s headline writer sums up as “Biased Brazen Contemptible”?

Well, one of the guest members of the public was questionable, another turned out to be a Labour supporter. Unless the BBC debate was intended to be a total Tory love-in, I don’t see a problem with having a Labour supporter ask questions. As for the anti-Israeli imam, he probably wasn’t a wise choice of questioner, although his inclusion seems more cock-up than conspiracy.

Look at is this way. This is a Tory leadership contest in which 160,000 party members are deciding who should be prime minister – without the involvement of the rest of us. And if that sounds like a democracy deficit, that’s what it is.

Three years ago, when the Tories last had a leadership ding-dong, the thorny crown was passed to Theresa May without opposition when her rivals withdrew.

This time round, with the ejected Mrs Maybe still hanging just out of view, the Conservatives are entertaining themselves by again anointing a new prime minister without anyone else being involved. To hear the self-congratulatory chorus, you’d have thought the candidates represented a party that had unified the country and was supremely in power, rather than a Brexit-battered and riven mess of a minority government that has failed to govern itself, let alone anything else.

Nope, just the usual Tory pass-the-baton sense of entitlement, with another epitome of privilege being slotted into Number Ten.

Viewed in that light, the BBC debate was a Tory orgy the rest of us were invited to watch as weary, unexcited voyeurs; wasn’t it?

All very undemocratic, I’d have thought. And with Brexit remaining an immovable problem, all this tawdry Tory contest is doing is allowing assorted would-be prime ministers to claim they have a magic spell – just chant “Brexit-cadabra!” and all the problems disappear.

Easily the most sensible comments about Brexit to be heard anywhere came this morning from the Dutch prime minister. Speaking on the BBC Today programme, Mark Rutte said that the UK would not be “big enough” to play a role on the world stage outside of the EU. He also pointed out the EU was reshaping along exactly the lines Britain demanded – so why was Britain leaving?

A good point, only answered by the question really asked in that referendum: are you vaguely pissed off about everything and feel the EU is to blame for all your ills?

That implied question gave us Brexit – the Brexit that “must be delivered”, even though defining exactly what Brexit is, how long it will take, what it will stir up, has got no easier at all.

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