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Clowns, Chaos & Clickbait

Maybe it’s because I’m a politico, an avid PMQs watcher or because I’m turning into something of a bore, but I enjoyed today’s exchange between Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer, because it was about serious issues.

Starmer chose to major on protection. He questioned the Prime Minister on prisons and the recent escape from Wandsworth, on probation services, China’s election interference and small boats.

It was a good exchange, between two serious politicians. Albeit one on the ascendency and one on the way out.

Immediately after the exchange, Sky News’ Deputy Political Editor Sam Coates, referred to the exchange as ‘boring’. He went as far as to say that Sunak and Starmer are ‘technocrats’ so we should get used to this now. His body language was negative and down.

It really annoyed me.

Trust and confidence in politics is at an all-time low. That much is clear. But it isn’t just because of politicians. Client journalists have done the government’s bidding in newspapers such as the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and the Express as well as on TV channels like GB News and the BBC. But there have also been a large swathe of the Westminster media village that has dined out on the political melodrama.

For these journalists, they have been propelled into our living rooms, almost on a daily basis. Explaining what Brexit was all about. Covering 5 five Prime Ministers in five years and explaining what it all means. They’ve had lucrative documentaries commissioned, written books and toured the after dinner speaker circuit as names and faces associated with the Westminster shenanigans of the last decade.

For these journalists, two technocrats arguing about grown up policy differences on China and prison reform doesn’t get them on the 6 o’clock news or on the 10. It doesn’t make for viral YouTube videos. They find the business of serious politics boring.

It is a sign of how far our political journalism has fallen that instead of wanting to examine the foreign policy differences of the two largest parties a year out from the general election in relation to the world’s new super power, the Deputy Editor of Sky News can dismiss these exchanges as boring.

Make no mistake, there are plenty of serious journalists in Westminster who are asking searching questions and more interested in the substance than the sensational. But as we saw today, there are plenty of others more taken by the clowns, the chaos and the clickbait.

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