‘Politics is show business for ugly people,’ said Paul Begala, famously. Westminster today, however, is more akin to a finishing school for aspiring media personalities. We live now in a new age of ‘presenticians’ – in which more and more political figures present their own news shows.
Turn on your TV and you could well be confronted by one of a dozen current or former MPs who are now anchors or regular pundits.
On GB News, there’s the husband-and-wife duo of Esther McVey and Philip Davies, and Lee Anderson MP just replaced his fellow Tory Dehenna Davison as the network’s resident ‘Red Waller’. Jacob Rees-Mogg has also joined the self-styled ‘People’s Channel’. At same time, across London on Talk TV, fellow Johnsonite Nadine Dorries will soon be grilling her onetime boss Boris Johnson. You can also catch Bim Afolami and Tan Dhesi as talking heads on Talk’s flagship late night show.
If radio is your preferred medium, you can enjoy the weekly musings of Ed Vaizey on Times Radio or Labour’s David Lammy on LBC. LBC now presents itself as The People’s Town Hall, featuring as it does regular ‘Call Keir’ and ‘Speak to Sadiq’ segments.
Media, it turns out, is where ousted or retired politicians go to keep addressing the public. ITV’s morning schedule regularly hosts the likes of Ed Balls and Gyles Brandreth; GB News provides current MPs with sympathetic hosts in the form of Michael Portillo and Gloria De Piero. George Osborne is a regular on the Andrew Neil Show.
The more craven recovering politician seeks out reality or gameshow TV: Strictly and I’m A Celebrity offer the likes of Matt Hancock an easy segue into the world of light entertainment.
It’s nothing new, of course.