A healthy democracy depends on an active citizenry which is able to make informed decisions. That is, in theory, the role of the fourth estate: to help the public understand their own society and the world around them, to hold the powerful to account and to challenge myths and expose uncomfortable truths. You do not need to be a long-time critic of the British media ecosystem to see those basic functions are not being satisfied when it comes to Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. Rather than detailed scrutiny being applied to the most important single political event since the second world war, it has been reduced to a spectacle, a pantomime, all framed on the government’s own terms.
Just as Theresa May’s “no deal is better than a bad deal” bluster collided with political reality, Johnson’s demagoguery was followed by his own capitulation to the EU’s red lines. Yet his embrace of a deal first offered by the EU 19 months ago – and rejected by May as something “no UK prime minister could ever agree to” – has been presented as an against-all-odds, critic-defying triumph. The consequences of a deal predicted to strip the country of £130bn worth of growth – making the average Briton £2,250 a year poorer over the next 15 years – should be front and centre in the debate.
So we should examine every proposal by you, McDonnell and Corbyn by the effects on GDP growth, should we? Never another matter to have a look in?
Or do things like democracy, the way we’re ruled, inequality, civil liberty and all the rest get a look in?
And if they do with the plans you like then why don’t they with other plans?