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TV Reviews: And the winner is...

Nothing brings a lump to the throat quicker than the round of glad—handing and mutual back-slapping that constitutes the modern "awards ceremony" . So it was with Channel Four's Political Awards, shown—endearingly enough—on Valentine's Day, only on this occasion the cause of any lump in the throat could only be bile. There can be few more sickening sights than a group of politicians congratulating themselves on their parliamentary performances, politicians who on any other day of the week are barely on speaking terms—and not simply because of any political differences either. The principal differences between them will be entirely personal and most likely malicious.

At this particular event, those politicians nominated for awards by Channel Four were put to sit next to one another at nominees` tables, shifting uneasily in their seats and shooting suspicious, sideways glances at their rivals. Only when they were certain the camera was on them—as the announcement was made that one of their rival nominees was victorious—did they crack a smile. And those smiles! It is not easy to generate facial expressions redolent of the type of creature that would be created if Dick Dastardly were to be crossed with Donny Osmond, but most seemed to achieve it.

Not that all the politicians were slimy, untrustworthy examples of a life-form lower than tabloid journalists. Some of the nominees and victors were principled within their pro-capitalist context (Ted Heath, Tony Benn, Chris Mullin) while others were talented enough performers of the political arts, and transparently so (Benn again, Anne Widdecombe, Richard Shepherd).

As with all awards ceremonies what was really irritating was the cloying, fake mateyness of it all. If smugness and complacency paid, they'd all be millionaires (though, come to think of it, a fair few of them are). Far more interesting would have been some critical awards based on the underlying search for meaning in modern politics rather than the concoction of a ceremony designed to encourage the bastards even further. Needless to say, it was not forthcoming from Channel Four, so the Socialist Standard has bravely stepped into the gap and produced its own set of awards for the parliamentary exponents of political science over the last year.

And the categories are:

Greaser of the year: the first category and the one with the most competition. Winners at previous ceremonies tended to come almost exclusively from the Conservative Party. This year's entrants come from the Labour backbenches, in particular from New Labour's sinister Stepford Wives, Barbara Follet—clones without a social conscience. But the overall victor—by a short brown nose—must come from the Cabinet itself. This year's winner: Alun Michael, Welsh Secretary, who is currently so far up Tony Blair's backside he can now see Jack Cunningham's ankles.

Turncoat of the year: the man who posed as the workers` friend, spending years proselytising the Trotskyist cause and who now lavishes praise on the CBI while kicking the unions where it hurts: Stephen Byers, Trade and Industry Secretary, and yet another Trot who has turned out just as expected.

Hypocrite of the year: the man who said that workers should expect no favours from business under a Labour Government but who himself was caught receiving some very big favours from business indeed: Peter ("what's half a million between friends?") Mandelson.

Lunatic of the year: the ever tender, loving and caring Reverend Dr Ian Paisley, saint to the sinners, and three turnips short of a truck-full.

Joker of the year: the newt-lover extraordinaire, whose "loyalty pledge" to the bosses` friend Tony Blair should send the appropriate signals to the workers of London that he can in no sense be taken seriously as any sort of socialist, real or imagined: step forward, Ken Livingstone, whose campaign for free tube rides for reptiles will end up fooling no-one except the lizards on the benches next to him.

Political deserter of the year: Captain Paddy Ashdown, whose piousness in the face of the social problems of the world has only been equalled by his enthusiastic support for the system that caused them. His resignation brings forth the positive prospect that we may now at last see less of him. Hard-up Somerset farmers may now take the opportunity to plant potatoes in his permanently furrowed brow.

Special Princess Diana Award for saintliness: Tony himself, of course. Even now thousands are preparing to hurtle themselves off the pavement in front of buses just so he might come to visit them on one of his many nightly hospital visits. At least that's why we think they're doing it . . . though it is possible that other explanations are more plausible. They might, for instance, have spent Valentine's night watching Channel Four and then regretted it very much indeed.

DAP