Janet Street-Porter: We've put the wrong Gordon in charge

While the PM's credibility plummets, the TV chef is the very model of self-belief
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The Independent Online

Last week was a tale of two Gordons. Gordon Ramsay was out and about, first hobnobbing with the Queen at a reception at Buckingham Palace to "honour" the hospitality industry. He exhibited an uncharacteristic level of humility by stooping so low to chat to HMQ that she must have copped a face full of the sprouting blond artichoke that's living on top of his head.

I can imagine the chat over the Horlicks later, when the royals were dissecting the outfits on display – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall looked as if he'd been dragged out of a hedge backwards after catching and plucking a free-range chicken, while hotelier Sir Rocco Forte resembled a swarthy buccaneer. For some reason Gordon seemed to be dressed for a wedding, but perhaps a prankster had told him he might be receiving a knighthood.

On Friday he hit the headlines again by demanding that the government stop dealing with child poverty and the 10 per cent tax rate and focus on something far more important: unseasonal vegetables. He told Radio 5 Live that he'd like legislation to fine restaurants whose chefs don't feature seasonal British vegetables on their menus. According to Gordon, most chefs are far too lazy.

He has a point, only slightly undermined by his driving a gas-guzzling vehicle and spending most of his time jetting around the globe to oversee his rapidly expanding restaurant empire. Eating out should mean we have a chance to enjoy great food created with local produce, rather than fish, meat and exotic veg flown in from the other side of the planet.

When Ramsay is passionate about something, he puts his point of view across so brilliantly that millions of ordinary Britons sit up and listen.

The other Gordon in the news, Brown, could do with a bit of that oomph. This buttoned-up sulky, sleepless, troubled politician squirmed in his seat on telly last week when This Morning's Fern Britton asked him a personal question about his sons.

What Boris Johnson, Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver understand so perfectly is the art of communication. Sadly, the other Gordon is useless at news management. Last week, Wrap, the organisation that the Government set up to monitor waste, said the average family in this country throws out food worth £610 every year – Environment minister Joan Ruddock called the figures "staggering".

At a time when the Government employs more special advisors than ever before, and our own Prime Minister spends more on experts to air brush his image than his predecessor did, I only have one response to these supposedly shocking figures about waste. SO WHAT? Has the Government nothing better to do than employ officials to tell us to eat potato peelings and make junket out of milk that's gone off?

We now recycle a third of our rubbish – an all-time high. Most people are only too mindful of waste – but until the Government is willing to tackle food manufacturers and insist that meaningless sell-by dates are removed from food, it's pointless whingeing about what goes into our bins.

Meanwhile, Gordon B could take a few lessons in chutzpah from Gordon R.

Grow up, you two. You take the kudos, now take the rap

It's no surprise to me that the smuggest couple on television, Ant and Dec, were honoured with an award which they hadn't actually won. For years, every major music award ceremony has dished out accolades based on who will turn up to receive them – but at least that generally doesn't involve fleecing the public.

A legal investigation into ITV discovered that the 2005 Comedy Awards were rigged because Robbie Williams wouldn't give out a gong unless it went to his pals Ant and Dec. In fact, viewers had voted Catherine Tate their winner in the People's Choice category.

Ant and Dec were said to be "horrified and upset" when they found out. As mortified as when another investigation found that viewers had spent £4m on phone calls to their 'Saturday Night Takeaway' series, voting for winners who had already been chosen well before the phone lines closed?

Ofcom fined the broadcasters £3m for deceiving the viewers that time. Poor Ant and Dec wrung their hands and pleaded they "knew nothing" about the swindle – even though they were credited as executive producers, a role which carries ultimate responsibility for content.

Another programme they presented, 'Gameshow Marathon', has been fined £1.2m by Ofcom for rigging phone-ins. It also found that 'I'm a Celebrity ...' had breached the rules relating to phone-ins.

Ant and Dec have built their whole relationship with the public by behaving as if they are our pretend brothers, fun to have around and expert at light-hearted joking. They seem to be perpetually twentysomething, even though the hairlines are shrinking backwards and they are beginning to resemble a couple of boiled eggs.

It's just not good enough for ITV's highest-paid presenters to keep saying sorry and make out that they didn't know what was going on ... sometimes you have to grow up, stop sniggering and carry the can. Otherwise the viewers will finally, gradually, realise that you don't mind treating them with utter contempt.

Just how many times have I got to tell you? Nagging works!

I've said it once and I'll say it again .... I admit I am a bit of a nag. Years of making television programmes, where you give the team every instruction three times – once so they get the basic idea, twice to make sure they understand it exactly, and a third time for the ego-maniac who wants to do it his way – means that I tend to treat my partner in exactly the same fashion.

Before he goes shopping I tell him what I want. Then I give him a list on a brightly coloured Post-it. Finally, as I assume he will lose this list I ring his mobile while he's in the store to make sure he doesn't deviate with impulse buys – or worse, lose the list and buy what he thinks we need. This results in a cupboard full of tins of custard, rice pudding and gherkins.

Now New Scientist confirms that nagging works by soaking up mental energy, leaving the recipient open to persuasion. Sadly, it doesn't work often enough, in my experience.

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