Over to Hugh . .
Back in the early eighties I was a self-employed printer working out of a grotty (but romantic) workshop adjacent to the occasionally flooding River Hull in Hull’s old industrial quarter, Wincolmlee. I was involved with a radical alternative newspaper, the Hull Post. It was all great fun. One day I had a call from a young journalist who had just started at the local commercial radio station, Radio Viking. In those days, they actually employed journalists. He wanted to meet up to find out if there were any stories he could follow up. We agreed to meet up in the workshop and I took him to my newly created mezzanine level office, which had a headroom of five feet. Anyway, we had a chat but I thought if we on the Hull Post had some exclusive scandal brewing I wasn’t going to tell him, some upstart from the new upstart commercial radio station what that story might be. So in the end I’m not sure what the meeting was all about. But ever since I have taken a passing interest in the career of Hugh Pym, now the BBC’s ever present health editor and formerly its economics chap. The reason I write about this encounter today is that he had the first question to Rishi Sunak at the daily No. 10 coronavirus party political broadcast (PPB), and Hugh actually started his one and only question to the Chancellor with ‘Are you ashamed . .’ [before raising the subject of inadequate PPE supplies for the NHS] and I wondered what had happened here. Clearly the question wasn’t designed to be answered head on [‘Yes Hugh, I am ashamed’]. At last I thought, a mainstream journalist has remembered what they got into the job for—to put the crapsters on the spot! Sadly, Hugh didn’t follow up his question with a demand that it be answered, so I concluded it was just a scripted piece of ‘clickbait’ or whatever they call it, to lead that day's bulletins. It would be nice to think that a journalist looking for juicy stuff back in the eighties could still be looking for juicy stuff today. Keep hoping.
Immediately following today’s PPB, the BBC’s PM programme invited Jeremy Hunt on to give his views. Hunt is chair of the House of Commons Health Select Committee, a role totally and scandalously unsuited to a former Conservative Secretary of State for Health, one who happily presided over so many of the deficiencies we’re now witnessing in PPE and other NHS critical supplies. I have come to the conclusion that when listening to these broadcasts I should keep a thick piece of leather to hand, to stick between my teeth to prevent myself from biting my tongue. Hunt is an apologist for the government’s current failings. He has no other choice.
Leave a Reply.