Editor’s Viewpoint: Party politics

Editor’s Viewpoint: Party politics

Writing in PBM’s February 2022 issue, editor Paul Davies laments the standard of political discourse in the UK…

After the latest Downing Street party debacle, I feel it reasonable to question whether the current Prime Minister will still be in post by the time this issue lands on your desks (* this piece was written on January 13th and whilst events have moved on slightly, the over-arching point remains valid…). The clear and obvious rule breaking is one thing; the dissembling and distraction about the revelations is quite another, all of which were compounded by a rather preposterous ‘apology’ in the latest Westminster PMQs pantomime.

Of course, all of this is really just soap opera stuff. On the same day, the High Court ruled that the government’s use of a ‘VIP lane’ to award Covid PPE contracts was unlawful. Equally, Chris O’Shea, CEO of British Gas owner Centrica, was quoted as saying that the soaring energy prices which “threaten the living standards of millions” (per the BBC) could last up to two years.

And then there were the comments from Liz Truss on the eve of her first talks with the EU since replacing Lord Frost as the UK’s lead Brexit negotiator. “There’s a deal to be done, but it will require a pragmatic approach from the EU” Truss was reported to have said. The oven ready deal remains half baked, it would seem…

Even further in shadows, substantive legislative reform relating to policing, immigration, mandatory voter ID and more wends its way through Parliament. The very future of the BBC (and Channel 4) is up for grabs. And as the cladding and building safety scandal continues almost five years after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Michael Gove, the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, has pledged to “make industry pay to fix all the remaining problems and help to cover the range of costs facing leaseholders.”

“We live in an age of 24 hour news reporting through dedicated TV news channels and the maelstrom of social media, yet it seems as though we are less informed than ever.”

Whether you agree or disagree with any of the policies and proposals is not the point. Quite simply, from the cost of living crisis to the cultural identity of the nation, the news agenda should be packed to the gills with details and discussions of the real issues confronting us. Instead, the debate is all too often framed as mere gossip and tittle-tattle; a real life Game of Thrones.

Where is the nuance, the scrutiny that allows us to form an understanding of how these events could shape the future, much less what is really going on now?

Referring back to the Prime Minister’s current predicament, of course the possible defenestration of the country’s most senior politician warrants discussion. But do headlines such as ‘Operation Save Boris’ (Daily Mail, Thursday 13th January) really serve the nation’s best interests for truly informative debate?

Too often, political reporting appears to come from the pen of a showbiz editor on job swap, with potential letters to the chair of the 1922 Committee tallied as though they are votes on X-Factor. We live in an age of 24 hour news reporting through dedicated TV news channels and the maelstrom of social media, yet it seems as though we are less informed than ever.

And whilst I despair of the lack of genuine political talent on all sides of the House and bemoan the clickbait nature of the modern media, the responsibility must also lie with us. Decisions made in Westminster impact on all of our lives and businesses. We should care more, but I sometimes wonder if we really care enough.

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