Sometimes concepts are really difficult to grasp. Take politics. Honestly, I’m so gormless I really wish someone would explain Brexit to me using finger puppets. And never mind the general election! Dearie me, I’m just a muddle-headed lady-muggins, so will someone please put the salient points onto flashcards and reward me with Maltesers if I’m the first one to shout out, “The economy!” and “The NHS!”
But I mustn’t worry because help is at hand. BBC News explains everything to me as if I’ve just joined the Tufty Club and am still grappling with the concept of crossing the road without getting run over by a badger dressed as a policeman driving a car. (Actually, I’m probably still in the Tufty Club. I think it’s like the Mafia, you can never resign.)
Leave it to my local BBC London news to help me get to grips with these fundamentals of British democracy, like how parties must compete to win seats in general elections and the one who gets the most votes becomes the MP. Who knew this? I thought all the candidates went into a field and threw pies at each other till the first one to fall over was declared the winner. Don’t tell me I’m wrong?
BBC London went to a children’s art class where the kids were working in bright bold colours, painting a lion yellow and a dinosaur red. This is because (are you sitting comfortably?) the Lib Dems and the Labour Party were fighting hard for a particular seat. The Lib Dems are yellow and the Labour Party are… all together now… red!
What, you say? You don’t get it? OK, let BBC London continue to explain. So someone on the report talked about the Labour Party as a child painted a red figure. Then another child painted the lion yellow as someone talked about the Lib Dems. OK, you’re with me now?
The report ended with a shot of lots of jars of brightly coloured glitter or paint or whatever, and a voiceover saying, “There’s the full palette of political colours on offer here.”
Right, that’s enough. I’m not four and I haven’t just got home because my mam’s called me in for my tea after I’ve spent the afternoon in the street playing hopscotch. I’m a grown-up with a job and I can cook my own tea, thank you. Just tell me what I need to know, I don’t want primary-school- level visual aids.
Even the proper news falls victim to this show-and-tell nonsense. The BBC suddenly became obsessed by light engineering after the election was called, so now no bulletin is complete without a reporter yelling at us from a factory floor. An uncomfortable-looking Kamal Ahmed, the BBC’s economics editor, who I like because he’s never patronising, recently wandered around a factory that punches holes into metal. I have no idea why, but I’m sure it’s important. So, accompanied by footage of holes being punched through metal, Ahmed had to make a pun: “This company literally punches holes in metal [but] cutting through the vexed issue of the quality of work will be the test for the party that wins the general election.” I’m sorry, what?
Poor Kamal. I suppose he’s lucky he wasn’t asked to explain whatever he was trying to explain via the medium of country dancing or rhythmic gymnastics.
Truly, I know engaging people with yet another ballot is an uphill struggle, but maybe if you shut the toybox lid and closed the classroom door, the adults will be able to manage perfectly well.