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Should the UK remain a member of the EU

  

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  1. 1. Should the UK remain a member of the EU

    • Yes
      242
    • No
      57


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Hard not to look at some of the legal commentators and see the difference in quality and objectivity in their coverage. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a growing campaign to sack Laura Kuenssberg. This seems to me an example of the fundamental attribution error. What’s wrong with the BBC is not so much Ms Kuenssberg herself, but the very nature of political reporting. I suspect instead that there’s a case for sacking all its political correspondents.

For one thing, they are redundant. All worthwhile issues could be as well or better covered by specialist reporters in other fields. For example, the junior doctors dispute could be covered by health or industrial relations correspondents; the local elections by local government reporters; the Brexit debate by economics, foreign or diplomatic reporters. And so on. The relative standings of the parties could be reported simply by comment-free reports on opinion polls or on Oddschecker’s election odds, in the same way that daily changes in the FTSE 100 are reported without comment.

Which poses the question: what do political correspondents add?

One thing is gossip. Political correspondents’ sources are anonymous briefings from “senior figures”, “sources close to Number 10” and other people too cowardly to go on the record. This gives us politics dominated by tittle-tattle and personal grievances rather than by checkable public evidence.

This, though, is not the only way in which the very existence of political correspondents warps politics. They incentivize parties to invest in spin doctors and the management of short-term headlines (which are mostly noise) rather than in more democratic forms, such as building a mass party membership and using those members to change the political climate through the gradual process of millions of individual conversations. In this sense, Westminster-based political reporting encourages closed hierarchical politics rather than more open egalitarian ones.

Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine we got rid of political correspondents so that policy was reported by specialist journalists instead. What would happen?

There’d be a shift in the knowledge base of journalists. The opinions of politicians would have less weight and those of experts more. This would diminish bubblethink – or at worst, give us a multitude of different bubbles which would at least be some improvement. And it would make politics more technocratic because politicians’ utterances – which of course must still be reported – would be judged not just against each other’s, but against the weight of evidence and expert opinion.

Rather than have what Paul Krugman calls “views differ on shape of planet” journalism – of the sort lampooned by Alexander Cockburn – claims would be seriously tested. For example, Hunt’s assertion that people are more likely to die if admitted to hospital on a weekend would be counterposed not just to a Labour party statement, but to academic research on the matter. This would encourage a more evidence-based politics.

The BBC can do this: Radio 4’s More or Less is a model of what I have in mind. Getting rid of political journalists would give more space and resources to this vastly superior journalism.

Now, I’m not calling here for the sacking of all political journalists: in a free country, the private sector media should hire whomever it wants. But the BBC is different. It has a duty of due impartiality. However, this is inconsistent with the employment of political journalists, because their prominence has the effect of biasing politics against openness, egalitarianism and evidence – which is anything but impartial.  

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2 hours ago, Denny Crane said:

Hard not to look at some of the legal commentators and see the difference in quality and objectivity in their coverage. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a growing campaign to sack Laura Kuenssberg. This seems to me an example of the fundamental attribution error. What’s wrong with the BBC is not so much Ms Kuenssberg herself, but the very nature of political reporting. I suspect instead that there’s a case for sacking all its political correspondents.

For one thing, they are redundant. All worthwhile issues could be as well or better covered by specialist reporters in other fields. For example, the junior doctors dispute could be covered by health or industrial relations correspondents; the local elections by local government reporters; the Brexit debate by economics, foreign or diplomatic reporters. And so on. The relative standings of the parties could be reported simply by comment-free reports on opinion polls or on Oddschecker’s election odds, in the same way that daily changes in the FTSE 100 are reported without comment.

Which poses the question: what do political correspondents add?

One thing is gossip. Political correspondents’ sources are anonymous briefings from “senior figures”, “sources close to Number 10” and other people too cowardly to go on the record. This gives us politics dominated by tittle-tattle and personal grievances rather than by checkable public evidence.

This, though, is not the only way in which the very existence of political correspondents warps politics. They incentivize parties to invest in spin doctors and the management of short-term headlines (which are mostly noise) rather than in more democratic forms, such as building a mass party membership and using those members to change the political climate through the gradual process of millions of individual conversations. In this sense, Westminster-based political reporting encourages closed hierarchical politics rather than more open egalitarian ones.

Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine we got rid of political correspondents so that policy was reported by specialist journalists instead. What would happen?

There’d be a shift in the knowledge base of journalists. The opinions of politicians would have less weight and those of experts more. This would diminish bubblethink – or at worst, give us a multitude of different bubbles which would at least be some improvement. And it would make politics more technocratic because politicians’ utterances – which of course must still be reported – would be judged not just against each other’s, but against the weight of evidence and expert opinion.

Rather than have what Paul Krugman calls “views differ on shape of planet” journalism – of the sort lampooned by Alexander Cockburn – claims would be seriously tested. For example, Hunt’s assertion that people are more likely to die if admitted to hospital on a weekend would be counterposed not just to a Labour party statement, but to academic research on the matter. This would encourage a more evidence-based politics.

The BBC can do this: Radio 4’s More or Less is a model of what I have in mind. Getting rid of political journalists would give more space and resources to this vastly superior journalism.

Now, I’m not calling here for the sacking of all political journalists: in a free country, the private sector media should hire whomever it wants. But the BBC is different. It has a duty of due impartiality. However, this is inconsistent with the employment of political journalists, because their prominence has the effect of biasing politics against openness, egalitarianism and evidence – which is anything but impartial.  

Some excellent points there. I'd love to read a response from Kuennsberg or Robinson or whoever, setting out what they think political correspondents add to any given debate.

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Apart from the USA who are desperate to get their hands on the Health system and smaller countries desperate for any trade, which major trading blocks/countries would be mad enough to enter trade discussions with the Uk who want it all and on their terms, based purely on arrogance. 

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5 hours ago, sir roger said:

I don't think there has ever been a plan really , the whole charade has been an effort to make it seem like the EU and the opposition are frustrating their wonderful plans for a new UK Utopia. The scary thing is that, if you believe the polls, the majority of the British voting public might just be moronic enough to make it work.

It's a country were people still read the s*n, the mail and people watch celebrity love island. The general public are interminably dim.

 

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57 minutes ago, M_B said:

Classy stuff

 

 

Edit: grrr For some reason the embedded picture doesnt show....

 

Plays well to the gammons gallery, like the front page of the S*n or the Daily Heil.

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29 minutes ago, viRdjil said:

Chilling.

 

 

Time to rip that plaster off. The sooner people start losing jobs, going hungry and without medicines the sooner we can string up the Tories.

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53 minutes ago, skend04 said:

Time to rip that plaster off. The sooner people start losing jobs, going hungry and without medicines the sooner we can string up the Tories.

Those last four words speak to me, can't think why!

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1 hour ago, skend04 said:

Time to rip that plaster off. The sooner people start losing jobs, going hungry and without medicines the sooner we can string up the Tories.

Kill vulnerable people to prove a point?

 

Not for me, Clive. 

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1 hour ago, Nelly-Torres said:

I've just seen James Cleverly referred to as "Graph Cunt" and it tickled me greatly. 

Arl arse on Woolster that 

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6 minutes ago, Red Shift said:

Truth or lies: the UK pays a billion pounds a month to have a trade deficit with the EU?

 

Not good business if it’s true.

Every £1 we pay in membership fee comes back as £10 into the coffers. Anywhere else you can make 1000% ROI?

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2 hours ago, skend04 said:

Every £1 we pay in membership fee comes back as £10 into the coffers. Anywhere else you can make 1000% ROI?

Pimping Tony's ma?

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2 hours ago, Red Shift said:

Truth or lies: the UK pays a billion pounds a month to have a trade deficit with the EU?

 

Not good business if it’s true.

Isn't it? We import £345 billion per annum with zero tariffs. And the EU buys £290 billion of our products, again with zero tariffs.

 

Sounds good to me. What am I missing?

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Well, that is a deficit of

21 minutes ago, M_B said:

Isn't it? We import £345 billion per annum with zero tariffs. And the EU buys £290 billion of our products, again with zero tariffs.

 

Sounds good to me. What am I missing?

that is a trade deficit of £55 billion. That's fine, on it's own, but doesn't the UK have to pay £1 billion a month in subsidies to the EU, on top of that deficit?

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We effectively pay 1 billion a month to access the single market (although as others have said we get rebates). The deficit is because we buy more products and services than we sell in that market. I don't see the point of the link between how much we pay to access the market and the trade balance. The alternative is not to be in the single market and to have tariffs imposed on that trade which would raise prices of imported products and services and lessen demand for our home produced products.

 

I honestly might be confused here though so am happy to have things explained to me in an economics for dummies fashion.

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5 minutes ago, M_B said:

We effectively pay 1 billion a month to access the single market (although as others have said we get rebates). The deficit is because we buy more products and services than we sell in that market. I don't see the point of the link between how much we pay to access the market and the trade balance. The alternative is not to be in the single market and to have tariffs imposed on that trade which would raise prices of imported products and services and lessen demand for our home produced products.

 

I honestly might be confused here though so am happy to have things explained to me in an economics for dummies fashion.

I guess at the end of the day, it depends on 2 factors. Firstly, how much flexibility in trade does the UK have outside the EU (whilst still in the EU) and secondly, how much opportunity there is for the UK to increase it’s EU export market share. I have no idea.

 

However, as an independent sovereign trader, the UK may well be better off over time - assuming that in both the above factors, the UK (within the EU) is rigidly fixed.

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1 minute ago, Vincent Vega said:

Maybe our defecit with the EU wouldn't be at the level it is if Thatcher hadn't decimated our manufacturing industries?

Yip. No argument here. A mixed economy is a robust economy. Here in Aotearoa, we do pretty well as a small Pacific nation, trading globally. However, we have extensive resources.

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