Belfast Telegraph

How X Factor proves that democracy’s a bad thing

As I said on the radio last week — to a studioful of gasps — I often despair of democracy.

I was talking about the rise of the technocrat government at the time but my stern Stalinist instincts have been bolstered this week with — yes, you’re way ahead of me — the results of public polls on I’m a Celebrity and The X Factor.

The finale of I’m a Celebrity revealed that the most popular contestant this year was one of the dreariest nonentities ever to grace reality TV.

To be fair, McFly bassist Dougie Poynter did express shock at his win, pointing out he’d done nothing but ‘lie around in a hammock’ for two weeks, occasionally saying, ‘Amazing’!

It’s not his fault. He seems a nice chap, if largely catatonic. But as an entertainer, conversationalist, or even watchable eejit, he singularly failed to deliver.

Have the public really become so bland and judgmental that the merest hint of a personality, a chink of moodiness (funny, sharp-tongued Antony Cotton) or vanity (surprisingly sensitive Mark Wright) deem a person unworthy of a little fillip?

It seems so. Despite clearly being the show’s strongest singer and most inventive performer, tough kid Misha B was voted off The X Factor last week, leaving the brain-gnawingly dull and (within six months, trust me) forgettable Marcus and just plain mediocre Little Mix to battle on.

Misha will prosper — she’s by far the most likely candidate to have a serious career — but her abrasive street attitude and gossip regarding her intimidating other contestants has persuaded the watching millions to desert her.

If this is democracy, UK-style, in action the thought of giving more power to the UK masses makes me shudder. This is how they react to celebrities and talent shows, things they actually have some knowledge of.

Imagine the damage they could do if they were handed real power in, say, an EU referendum. It would be like asking a blind man what colour we should paint the sky.

There are also signs that people here aren’t just unadventurous and frequently idiotic (it was the great British public who handed a Bafta to TOWIE remember), we’re also increasingly individualistic and pitiless.

The British Social Attitudes survey this week revealed only 31% of Dave’s Big Society is willing to pay more tax for health and education, and 63% think lazy parents are to blame for child poverty.

Even more depressingly, a survey on views of children last month told us that 44% agreed young people were becoming ‘feral’, an incredible one in four said those who behaved badly were beyond help by age 10 and, worst of all, 38% thought children who get into trouble shouldn’t receive help.

The results had Barnardos and other organisations who work tirelessly to give hope to kids who’ve been written off before they leave primary school tearing their hair out.

A regional aside, though, is worth noting.

Another recent survey showed that within the UK, adults in Northern Ireland are most concerned about children in their local area, with a heartening 73% expressing concern.

There may be some who think this makes Northern Ireland a nation of suckers (those are the ones I want to deny the right to vote, but sadly there are no government plans to go with me on this.) I say it’s a cause for pride and celebration.

If you’re one of the 73%, check out this fantastic website, http://www.actionforchildren.org.uk for ways to bestow the best, most appreciated Christmas present you’ll ever give.

Belfast Telegraph

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