Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Two views of one event

 Yesterday the Commons debated the Government's bill to allow the UK to break the law, though only in "a very special and limited way."

 Here's the Guardian's Sketch-writer's report on the opining of the debate: 

 This was Boris [Johnson] at his very worst. Normally Johnson has little trouble in dealing in bullshit and lies: in fact he has made a career out of it. Yet right from the very start, he appeared nervous and defensive, even though a near empty chamber saved him from having to take too many embarrassing interventions from both the opposition and Conservative benches. Instead, what we got was total incoherence.


  Miliband [Ed, the former labour leader, leading for the Opposition] didn’t put a foot wrong, both goading the prime minister for his failure to understand key aspects of the Northern Ireland protocol and inquiring how he expected other countries to take us at our word if we were so willing to break international treaties, before taking him down point by point.

By contrast, here's how the Daily Mail reported the debate:

Boris laid out his stall calmly. The Bill, he said, should be supported by anyone who cared about ‘the sovereignty and integrity of our United Kingdom’. Without the Bill, we could end up with a situation where the EU refused to list any of our agricultural products for sale anywhere in the EU.

. . . 

 [Ed Milliband] lacks the authority that comes naturally to orators, causing him to keep repeating phrases until he’s sure everyone has heard them.

He spent most of his speech speaking directly at the PM. 

‘For a man who said he wants to get Brexit done this gets Brexit undone!’ he yelled. In a rather hokey piece of grandstanding, he goaded Boris to intervene and challenge him. Boris simply stared down at his lap shaking his head.

 On and on Ed honked, his quivering lips giving the despatch box a liberal soaking as he belted out lachrymose statements about Britain’s proud place in the world. ‘Magna carta… mother of all parliaments… rule of law'

I confess that I very rarely read anything from the Daily Mail.  I merely picked up these contrasting views from a BBC review of the day's papers.

The Daily Mail readers live in their own bubble: I live in my own, smaller, Guardian  bubble.

No wonder we think, and vote, so differently.

As Alexander Pope (1688 -1744) put it in his Essay on Man (if I recall my student days correctly):


'Tis with our judgements as our watches, none

Go just alike, yet each believes his own. 


Actually, today watches do go pretty well "just alike" but human nature hasn't changed. Even in an age when information is more freely and easily available than ever most of us  still allow ourselves to be exposed only to the information that supports our prejudices.

We used to be able to rely on The Times, which called itself a Journal of Record,  for a more impartial take on events, but I suspect it's now not much better than the Daily Mail.

Hence the importance of preserving  the BBC, which I believe does make a genuine attempt to "hold the ring" impartially.  Its influence and value will be further reduced  if its wings are clipped as the present government intends, and when it is exposed to rivalry from the Fox-style "opinionated" sources which are now in the pipeline.

Post-script, added 19th September.

A friend has sent me this link to Ed Milliband's speech:


 Please use it and see for yourself whether the  Daily Mail or the  Guardian  description is the more accurate. 


Post Script added 23rd  September. The speech seems to have been "taken down" from that site.  I wonder why?  I'm told it can now be accessed here, 


but "come in" after 1hr 47 minutes



  1. For a different bubble, try the Daily Express. Brexiters and Tories are always making BRILLIANT points, leaving Remainers, Labour, Liberals, the SNP and the BBC all totally HUMILIATED.

    1. And - goes without saying - the EU.

    2. So it's really Guardian and Daily Mirror v the rest.

    3. As an afterthought, I wonder what the press is like in Scotland. How did the SNP manage to "break the mould?" (to revive a familiar phrase)