Quick jotting down of one particular thought around the “Battle for Number 10” TV Election discussion.
Like many of us I’ve been surprised/annoyed at how the majority of our TV journalists have essentially let Brexit and it’s issues pass them by. Complex issues have been trivialized and, 10 months later, we’ve still yet to see a proper, adult discussion on TV on the major components.
Tonight however Jeremy Paxman took this to a new level.
Approximately 6-10 times Theresa May answered audience questions with “but everything depends on getting the best deal for Brexit, and only I can do that”. Everything from NHS, Security funding to Schools depends on the economy and the economy in turn depends on getting a good Brexit deal.
So the deal is clearly important, vital in fact to UK interests. I know this is obvious but it’s important to state that this was May’s entire position. It’s fair to say she is running the election in part on how only she can get that best deal. And we also know that the government have completely failed to cost the impact of a “no deal” scenario (or, possibly, they have costed it but dare not release the figures),
So, in Paxman’s one to one interview he asked her, 4 times, “Are you however prepared to walk away from the EU with no deal?”.
And May said “Yes”
And Paxman said “Thank you, goodnight”.
The obvious, vital follow up question which demanded to be asked was “OK, but what will the impact be on the UK if we walk away?”. Or, the alternative “Then if walking out is an option, why haven’t you costed the impact of that walk out?”.
But neither was even hinted at. Paxman harried Corbyn over why obscure beliefs of his from the last century were not in the Labour manifesto…but not a single word on what might happen to the UK if this vital deal, that May based almost her entire appearance on, arguably the entire election on, doesn’t actually happen.
Paxman is not stupid, he may not believe the “cliff edge” predictions of a no deal scenario but he must know they are out there. And the predictions are dire, there are even worst case scenario predictions that we might not be able to feed ourselves when the supply chains are disrupted. But instead of asking a single question on “what happens to us if we walk out with no deal?” he instead let May go out on a high saying “yes, I’d walk out”.
This is unacceptable, this is a shocking dereliction of duty. What possible value is there in discussing Labour or Tory manifesto costings if there is the very real possibility hanging over our heads of a chaotic brexit crash out of Europe, Yet Corbyn’s thoughts on the Monarchy got more attention.
This blog talks about the failure of UK journalism when compared to the US. The author talks about how in the US the failure to take Trump seriously has reinvigorated the US press. They are now being more critical of themselves and the new administration, to do their job in other words.
In the UK however, as we saw tonight, our journalists continue to let us down. We will go into the election and into Brexit, and no TV journalist will even attempt to help the public understand the real issues.