I listened to Hardtalk with Alistair Darling this morning.
In the Independence referendum part of the interview Darling gives the usual line that we have come to expect from the No campaign, though is a little more conciliatory to the idea of Scotland being able to go it alone than we are used to.
Nevertheless there are a couple of moments when he gets into difficulty and changes the subject and/or resorts to attacking Alex Salmond when the question had nothing to do with Salmond – standard politician stuff and not really worth going out of your way to listen to it.
I felt the interviewer, Alan Little, did quite well in the Scotland section of the interview – even if he let him get out of a few easy questions when he had him struggling.
That said, I think in the earlier part of it (on the economy), there were a couple of things to note.
Firstly, they started with an assumption that an economic recovery is under way and both continued on that theme for a while. I think many people would take issue with that. If it were underway, I’d also be tempted to ask which people are experiencing the benefits of this recovery?
One question in particular struck me though. Darling was asked if Ed Balls was the right man to get Labour’s economic message across. Darling replied that he believed that Balls’ analysis of the crisis has been correct throughout. At that point the journalist said something bizarre…
“It’s not a question of whether he is right or wrong, it’s a question of whether the public trust him”.
Neatly showing in one easy phrase what is wrong with journalism.
It should be the job of journalists to find out whether he is right or wrong. If he is right, then the job should be to explain why he is right. That wasn’t entered into.
The public may or may not trust him. What concerns me more is that the person with the right answers (who I personally don’t believe to be Ed Balls) can be so casually dismissed because he might be considered “unpopular”.
Preferring to concern themselves with who is more popular and thereby turning all politics into popularity contests in which most popular=most correct is probably not a good substitute for neither journalism nor politics. I don’t think I’m alone in suggesting they should be more worried about finding out who really is right.
Sorry if this is nitpicking, but this was Hardtalk – on which you’re not supposed to get away with anything you say.