Tuesday, May 11, 2010

To boldy go where Neil Hamilton has gone before?

Time to leave this stage but not all stagesI have now had a chance to catch up with last Friday's Have I Got News For You where one of the contestants was none other than Lembit Öpik, fresh from having lost his Montgomeryshire seat.

One of the cruelties of British politics is the way election results are declared, with the politicians there for all to see. On Election Night it was saddening to watch Jacqui Smith as her defeat was announced. I didn't catch Lembit's defeat but it can't have been great for him. But to go on Have I Got News For You and endure numerous taunts about his defeat is going beyond it all. Lembit looked uncomfortable at times but still took it well.

Lembit Öpik, new media superstar?It reminds me of a previous ex MP going on Have I Got News For You soon after their defeat. Neil Hamilton made a memorable appearance back in 1997 and came out with the wonderful soundbite "I've found it's much better making political jokes than being one." He finished the show by accepting his fee. Naturally it was paid in cash in a brown envelope. But from that show Neil, and his Christine who also appeared, have carved out new careers as media celebrities.

Lembit Öpik is, of course, no stranger to appearing all over the media - of his party only Charles Kennedy seems to have appeared more. But now that Lembit is out of parliament will he take his career in this direction? It could be quite lucrative for him and he is genuinely funny. It could bring years of reward for him and entertainment for the rest of us.

Unless of course we're suddenly all wiped out by an asteroid.

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