This morning, Brexit Secretary David Davis finally presented the government’s Brexit ‘white paper’ to Parliament. This was screened live by BBC News.
As a result, Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer’s outrage (and that of the benches behind him, whose cries could clearly be heard) at receiving the white paper only two minutes before the debate was broadcast, live and unmistakable, to anyone who was watching.
A fuller analysis of the white paper will follow once the Hansard record is updated and details are available, but even this little passage of events was absolutely telling in two ways.
The government, like the proverbial duck, is trying desperately to maintain an appearance of competence and control which completely belies the reality beneath the surface.
Governments do not deliver white papers – formal policy papers for Parliamentary discussion – to the Opposition two minutes before a debate unless they are:
a) utterly in disarray
b) utterly contemptuous of Parliament and democracy or
From all available evidence, including Theresa May’s desperate arse-kissing of despots in the US and Turkey, option C is the correct one.
The Tories have been preparing their white paper – supposedly – since well before they lost their Supreme Court appeal against Gina Miller nine days ago, which forced them to take a proper parliamentary route to triggering Article 50 and beginning Brexit negotiations. Yet they only have the document ready to hand over to Starmer a couple of minutes before the debate.
This indicates that – not to put too fine a point on it – they had no bloody clue or agreement what to put in it. The accusations by Jeremy Corbyn, Starmer and others that the government is in disarray were absolutely on target.
Here you go – sorry, never happened, guv!
The other tell-tale was in the way the BBC treated the issue.
The clear ‘take-away’ from the live coverage was Davis’ unease at only being able to deliver the white paper moments ahead of the debate and his discomfort couldn’t be hidden by his bluster.
However, within minutes of the end of the live coverage, as the editors and presenters began to talk about the white paper and what it meant there was not a single mention of the lateness of delivery – everything was about Theresa May’s ‘clear’ purpose and fulfilment of her obligations.
Oh – and (of course) about Labour’s supposed difficulties. They somehow remembered that, even though it had played no part in the coverage we’d just seen. This collective amnesia has continued throughout the coverage since then.
If ever a future historian writes a book on the Tory-suborned BBC of the early 21st century, this will be the case study. You couldn’t find a clearer contrast, within the space of mere minutes, between the objective reality and the skewed, biased, agenda-driven narrative on it provided by our ‘public service’ broadcaster.
And the fact that it was their own, fresh coverage they were ignoring only made it all the clearer.
If anything should convince people to trust nothing the BBC tells us about Labour, politics and how to perceive them, this – this ‘slam dunk’ proof of hidden agendas – should be it.
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