Much Ado About Nothing

Listeners tuning in late to the Light programme at 8 p.m. on 11th January probably thought they were hearing a knockabout cross talk act by the Crazy Gang. A perusal of the “Radio Times” however would inform them that it was an “argument between two controversialists from opposite sides of the House of Commons.” Dr. Chas. Hill, erstwhile Radio Doctor and Lib.-Cons. members for Luton and Beds., and Douglas Houghton, Labour member, Sowerby, Yorks. The Doctor kicked off by expressing his ardent desire for a stronger Government. After he had reiterated this several times we begin to feel that his proposed ideal government would be so strong it would positively stink. Sounding very much like an irate and peppery Colonel about to throw an apoplectic fit or burst a bloodvessel, he ranted of the Fuel Crises, Housing shortages. Rising Costs and Government expenditure. His opponent tried to keep his end up, questioning if Conservatives had in the past or would in the future do any better. He hadn’t the Doctor’s booming volume or bulldozer approach and was bogged down like a centipede in wet sand. The “argument” more or less developed into a slanging match, at times both speakers “hogged” the air simultaneously, the Chairman endeavouring to maintain some semblance of order and guide the course, not very successfully. Houghton got in a dirty crack about the Drs. “bedside manner,” the point of it we lost in the general melee. He also called attention to the Labour Government’s “achievements” since 1945. But spluttering like a damp squib on firework night the Doctor once again asserted that a stronger government was needed and called passionately for an early General Election. Again he poured his wrath on the Fuel Crisis, the Chairman headed him off but he dived back again later like a homing rabbit or a dog to its juiciest bone. Towards the end Houghton recovered his wind a bit and made a brave try. (The Daily Graphic of 12th January, referred to the whole thing as a “Hot talk with a tepid reception.”)


The Chairman then spoke a few soothing words and said they are not really cross, they’re grinning at one another. Possibly because each flattered himself he had put up a good show—in raucous cacophony they certainly had, but reasoned or intelligent argument, definitely no. In future when we read in our daily papers that “pandemonium reigned in the House” we shall visualise this exhibition multiplied and magnified, a veritable Tower of Babel.


This “argument” was the 2nd of a series of three. The writer missed the first by accident and will miss the third by design.


F. M. Robins