Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The fastest two hours of my life.

I went on the radio this morning as a guest on Callum Leslie's Soap Box on Edinburgh Student Radio Station www.freshair.org. It's not the first time I've been on the radio talking about politics as I've phoned through to Iain Dale's a couple of times. This was more of a test though as it involved 2 hours of "punditry" with Iain McGill the Conservative candidate in Edinburgh Central. Iain is a bright, friendly and funny guy and although we disagreed about a few things, the discussion was really good humoured. We were joined for the second hour by Labour activist Matthew and we had quite a sparky debate about how we felt the election campaign would go and what the key issues would be.

I was quite pleased that I managed to point out some huge inconsistencies in the Tories' logic. I'd watched on Monday as Murdo Fraser outlined at the Scotland on Sunday Health debate why they were against universal free prescriptions because he as an MSP could well afford to pay and there were better uses for the £40 million it takes out of the NHS budget. I have sympathy with that argument. However, if the Tories are against that universal benefit, why on earth are they giving a £200 council tax to every pensioner household? It's ridiculous when a good proportion of those pensioners will be well off enough not to need it. The Tories are very keen on unnecessary universal benefits to those who they think might vote for them. They are also very keen on students contributing to the cost of their higher education - and how many students do you know who vote Tory?

Going back to Council Tax, Liberal Democrat Jeremy Purvis has come up with something a lot fairer - basically exempting any pensioner with an income of £10,000 or less from Council Tax. That's really quite good for many people, especially women who may not have built up enough of their own pension entitlement.

The scary bit of today's show came when we were asked to comment on music. My tastes are pretty cheesy and as camp as you like.   The challenge was doing a Juke Box Jury style thing with a new song, called Ribena by Pegasus Bridge. Needless to say I'd never heard of them, but I quite liked their song, which is available on You Tube here.

Thing about me is that you should never ever ask me what I think about music because I can never remember anything and it takes a long time to get a song embedded in my brain to the extent that I remember what it is and who it was by. My husband, who lives for music, despairs of me.

I happened to tweet that I was a little nervous about the music angle and am very grateful to Euan Price for tweeting me the following advice.

Quick music primer: Everyone loves Elbow; Bieber is evil; REM, Strokes not as good as b4; Decembrists v. hip; Jessie J = good.

I have actually heard of most of these except Decembrists, so I was quite impressed with myself. Anna loathes Justin Bieber and literally curls up in a little ball and wails if she hears any of his songs. Conversely my niece Emma is, I understand, going to see him. It takes all sorts to make a world, I guess.

There was another amusing moment when Iain was explaining what made him a Tory - admiration of Reagan and Thatcher's handling of the Cold War, while learning about it in Modern Studies. Callum and Matthew pointed out that they'd studied the Cold War in history. That reminded me of a conversation I'd had with my husband, who's 16 years older than me, not long after I'd met him, when we discovered I'd done stuff in History that was Modern Studies to him. Reminding him of that today, he started talking about how he'd done the League of Nations in Modern Studies. An unlikely story, given that that organisation was formed in 1919. He must have meant the UN, surely, which was formed 6 years before he was born.

All in all, the experience was highly enjoyable. It was just like sitting around with some mates having a chat and it wasn't quite as scary as I'd thought. Those two hours passed so quickly - and I found that I could actually have gone on all day. Although given that there was no way of getting a drink in the place, and no ladies' toilet that I could find, I might have expired if I'd tried. I just hope I get invited back.....

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