Ann Widdecombe, writing in this morning’s Daily Express, thinks that there are three main reasons why turnout in elections is declining:

1. People don’t believe that voting makes any difference;
2. Voters don’t believe a word politicians say;
3. "They have been taught by their role models that politicians are for amusement, to be mocked and embarassed."

Miss Widdecombe makes her intervention after Jonathan Ross’ controversial interview with David Cameron in which the £6m-a-year presenter asked the Tory leader – ‘did you or did you not have a wank thinking Margaret Thatcher?’.

The former Home Office minister thinks that the media prefers "confrontation and derision" to "exploration and examination".  She says that she has no objection to the "sharp wit" of Spitting Image or Rory Bremner.  She objects to the "increasing fashion to try to trap politicians into making fools of themselves when they think they are being invited to talk about real issues."  In addition to Jonathan Ross, she cites the Eleven O’Clock show which tricked a Tory MP into attacking a drug that didn’t exist.

Miss Widdecombe rejects the broadcasters’ defence that such shows are popular.  "So were the horrors of the Roman arena," she declares.  Her conclusion:

"Such obscenity should not be funded by a tax which passes under the name of a compulsory licence fee."