Although I think Gavin Williamson should resign over the school exams fiasco, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him as he was grilled on both the BBC and Sky this morning, for it exposed all the media bias I’ve been banging on about here for so many months and years.
Let me remind you the U-turn by the Education Secretary follows that taken by the SNP in Scotland and is mirrored by the respective devolved authorities in both Wales and Northern Ireland. But where is the grilling on UK-wide networks of John Swinney, Kirsty Williams or Peter Weir? If Williamson’s education remit extends only to England (which it does), why is he put through a media interrogation of an intensity both the BBC and Sky would never even dream of applying to the other three? Although it may be true they will have been interviewed on the regional news arms of the Beeb, I’ll bet anyone here the furore over U-turns in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have abated long before it does so in England. The media will see to that.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The media, not the government, sets the political agenda in this country in 2020. And those at the vanguard were all beavering away at university at the time when Tony Blair was in power. Most of the principal news anchors and hacks have a particular worldview, and I can tell you it is certainly not one remotely Conservative, pro-Brexit, supportive of less immigration or one with an interest in maintaining constitutional unity across the Kingdom. In addition, the main news channels now like to indulge in what I call ‘the personalisation of bad news’. That is to say they go out and scout for some little Johnny or little Maizie, who were destined to read advanced mathematics at Peterhouse College, Cambridge, but who now have to contend with a BA in Cristiano Ronaldo studies at the University of Barrow-in-Furness. It’s attempted tear-jerking on a grand scale, though all it does is turn once-professional media corps into the Kent Brockmans of news delivery.
Either interview all four education secretaries on the national news, or none at all. Don’t subject a government minister to pan-UK exposure for a competence that is devolved. I want Williamson to resign because I don’t think he’s up to the job. The likes of Sky and the BBC want Williamson to resign in order to damage the Johnson administration. The reason being because they will never forgive the Conservatives for achieving the two things they both thought were impossible this time last year: a comprehensive General Election victory and Brexit. That is why they would have crucified the government if it had followed the Swedish strategy on lockdown, but also why they will crucify the government when statistics on mental health, suicide, unemployment and missed medical appointments are published – even though they themselves advocated the strategy the government went along with.
It’s crucially important for people to realise the real Opposition in this country comes not from Starmer and his harlequinade Shadow Cabinet, it comes from folk like Beth Rigby, Lewis Goodall, Jon Snow and Naga Munchetty. Yes, they are interested in holding the government to account, though only as a means to destroy it. If that wasn’t the agenda, they would have subjected the devolved governments to the same scrutiny over anything consequential to the COVID lockdown. The sooner this government realises what it is up against, the better.