Neither Boris Johnson nor Nigel Farage could be arsed turning up to the Channel 4 Climate Debate on Thursday, and since Johnson had sent some no-mark that no one had heard of to represent him at the debate on the BBC on Friday night, Labour responded by sending a no-mark of its own instead of Jeremy Corbyn. We also discovered this week that Boris Johnson has not in fact agreed to be split roasted by Andrew Neil in his infamous “wrong foot a politician” technique which he likes to call interviewing, despite the fact that the other party leaders had only agreed to participate because they’d been assured that the Artfully Tousled Wick Dipper had already signed up to it. Johnson even had the nerve to assert that it wasn’t up to him to decide whether to be interviewed by Andrew Neil, claiming that this was a decision to be made by other people. The leader of the Conservative party wants us to believe that he’s not actually the leader of his own campaign. Aye. Right. Uh-huh. He can’t even be arsed making his lies halfway believable any more.
Then the BBC announced that they would refuse to allow Johnson on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday until he agreed to do the Andrew Neil Inquistion. However this didn’t last long as the corporation backtracked after the London Bridge attack on Friday, saying that it was important for viewers that we get to hear Johnson’s fnaugh fnaughing about being hardline on terrorism. This is despite the fact that it was the Tories who cut 20,000 polis in the first place. Now we have the BBC using the deaths of two innocent passers by as a justification for giving Lying Liar Johnson a preferential platform during this general election campaign. That’s pretty low, even by the standards of the BBC’s behaviour during the Scottish independence referendum campaign.
It doesn’t say much for Andrew Marr’s interviewing skills and his ability to hold politicians to account that Johnson has agreed to do an interview with him but not with Andrew Neil. And it says even less about the BBC’s ability to stand up to a governing party which pulls cheap tricks in its attempts to avoid being held to account. Right now the only chance that the BBC has of regaining even a modicum of the public trust that it has squandered would be for Andrew Marr to develop a strategic illness on Sunday just as he sits down with Johnson, and then Andrew Neil can walk on to replace him. That would be worth it just for the look on Boris Johnson’s lying scheming face.
None of the UK parties is having a good election here, but we can already be quite sure that the biggest losers are the BBC. There is already a crisis in public confidence in the BBC, especially here in Scotland. You don’t challenge that perception by allowing Boris Johnson and his team to get away with avoiding proper scrutiny and indulging in behaviour which cheats the public and deceives the BBC. The BBC’s coverage of this election campaign is an absolute horror show.
In Scotland the BBC remains obsessed with attacking the SNP on health issues, which are devolved, and doesn’t display even a small fraction of that same energy in pursuing the anti-independence parties on their anti-democratic refusal to recognise mandates provided to the SNP by the electorate at the polls. The Conservatives and the Lib Dems tell us that they won’t recognise even a landslide victory by the SNP in this election as a mandate for another independence referendum, and the BBC in Scotland just shrugs its shoulders and tells us that it’s up to Downing Street to grant a Section 30 order.
Meanwhile on another channel, Channel Four’s climate debate itself was very different in tone from previous election debates. For the most part, it was informative, good natured, and civilised. Which just shows you what public life could be like without the Tories or Farage in it. Unfortunately they are very much still in the UK’s public life, turning up uninvited in our consciousness like Michael Gove at the MOBO awards show doing an impression of Stormzy.
Despite it being a leaders’ debate, Michael Gove turned up at the Channel 4 studio with Boris Johnson’s dad and a film crew in tow, demanding to be allowed to take part in the debate instead of Johnson. The son, not the father. Perhaps Michael was struggling with the concept of “leader of the Conservative party”. Which is not surprising given that not so long ago he described Boris Johnson as not being up to the job of leading the Conservative party. Maybe in his imagination he thinks it’s really himself. Channel 4 quite rightly held their ground and refused to allow Gove to take Johnson’s place. Cue much harrumphage from the human goldfish. What part of leader don’t you understand Michael? All of it, as it turns out. Channel 4 were not going to be enablers of Boris Johnson’s shamelessness. Take note BBC. They had a melting block of ice instead of the Tories, which was a perfect metaphor for public trust in British politics. Nigel Farage wasn’t their either, but everyone agreed that this was a huge relief and so no one cared. After all, this wasn’t BBC Question Time.
We then had the spectacle of the Conservatives complaining to Ofcom about Channel 4’s refusal to allow them to participate in a debate that they themselves had refused to participate in. Worse, the Tories are now threatening Channel 4 over the renewal of its broadcasting licence over the episode. We are now actually living in a state where the party which aspires to government is threatening a TV station with closure because it refused to collude in the moral bankruptcy of Boris Johnson. This is where we actually are in the UK now. This is the crazy that passes for normal.
On Friday we had another debate, this time on the BBC. All seven party leaders were invited, as well as the Conservatives, Labour, the Lib Dems, and the SNP, there were also representatives from Plaid Cymru, the Greens, and the Brexit party. Yet again Boris Johnson was a no show, but unlike Channel 4, the BBC didn’t have the moral backbone to no-platform him or to replace him on the podium with a melting block of lard. Instead they allowed the Conservatives to substitute Rishi Sunak. No, I’d never heard of him either, but apparently he is the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Before going into politics he was a public schoolboy who went on to become a hedge fund manager and his wife is the daughter of a billionaire. So you know, totes in touch with working class voters and not elitish at all. Oh no.
Labour said that since the Tories are substituting someone that no one has heard of, it’s only fair that they do the same, so instead of Jeremy Corbyn we got Rebecca Long-Bailey. Meanwhile the Brexit party was represented by Richard Tice, who looks as though he should have been a 1970s catalogue model, artfully posing in bri-nylon and acrylic cardigans. Which to be fair is the era where the Brexit party’s social attitudes remain fixed. This debate was marked mostly by the divide between the Brextremists and everyone else, which some particular bad blood between Richard Tice and Nicola Sturgeon. She certainly managed to get under his perfectly groomed skin, which is why we vote for her. However I must confess that I didn’t actually watch the whole debate, since I was having a personal life for a wee change.
So what have we learned this week? We have learned that British politics are morally bankrupt, and that the BBC is unfit for purpose. Neither of which comes as news to anyone who has been paying attention. We also learned that the only way that politics can be civilised again is when Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage aren’t in it. Which is quite possibly one of the best arguments for Scottish independence that I’ve ever seen.
And finally, in some personal news for those who haven’t already heard it on the dugcast, my husband Peter’s visa has been granted and he’ll arrive in Scotland for good on the 16th of December. It’s been a long time coming but we got there in the end. I’d like to send a huge personal thank you to all those British nationalist trolls on social media who attacked us when I did last year’s crowdfunder, especially the guy who organised a wee campaign to get people to complain to the Home Office about us. I took copies of all the nastiness and printed it off. It was submitted to the Home Office along with Peter’s visa application as supplementary evidence that we were in fact in a genuine relationship. All that their hate achieved was to help bring another Yes supporter into Scotland, and since the Scottish Government plans to extend voting rights to everyone legally resident in Scotland irrespective of citizenship, he’ll be able to vote Yes in the next referendum too. So thanks for that Britnat hatemongers, and consider yourselves well and truly trolled.
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