CHOOSE A BLOG
C4’s Climate Debate Antics, Not Boris’ Absence, is the Real Disgrace.Posted on: December 2nd 2019
By: Harley Dalton, Area Manager, Greater Manchester.
On a football pitch, the captain is the leader, and it is his job to motivate the other players and instruct them on the go, with assistance and input from his manager. When the referee awards his team a penalty, the captain has the option to step up as the team's leader and take the penalty if he wants. However, most of the time the captain is not the team's star striker, and he will usually step aside in specific scenarios like that to allow the most talented individual on his team to bring his skills to bear on the situation.
Imagine then, if you will, that the referee awards a penalty, but when the star striker puts the ball on the spot, the referee stops him, and demands that the captain takes it instead. The captain, naturally, refuses – the rules do not say that he must take the penalty, and the star striker is obviously a much better choice. Instead of properly abiding by the rules, the referee decides to put the decision to the opposition team – would you like the star striker to take the penalty, or should the penalty be withdrawn? The other team, obviously, opts for the latter.
Such an obvious breach of the rules would be an outrage in the world of football. The referee would likely be struck off, the game suspended or its concluding result nullified. The opposition team would be lambasted for unsportsmanlike conduct. For these reasons, it is almost impossible to comprehend such a disgraceful scenario occurring.
Yet this is effectively what happened in last week’s farcical climate debate on Channel 4.
Channel 4 was the proverbial referee in our political football match, and their televised climate change debate was a penalty awarded to the Conservative Party. The squad’s captain, Boris Johnson, had the option to step up and take it himself, but Tory City FC had a better man for the job – Michael ‘Golden Boot’ Gove, who has served as the Secretary of State for the Environment for most of the last three years.
Those of us who care about the issue of climate change and want to hear detailed information and policy discussions on this issue should only have been glad to have Michael Gove stand in for Johnson – after all, he would have been uniquely qualified amongst the panellists for his insight as a Cabinet Minister in this field. The Conservatives being the most likely to be in power come December 13, Gove would also arguably have been the most contextually important candidate to speak, given he is more likely to form part of the leading party in charge of such matters.
Channel 4, however, chose to refuse Gove a place on the panel, arguing this was a leaders’ debate, and instead decided to continue with a pre-planned stunt involving a melting ice sculpture of Earth.
Putting the obvious political bias of that action aside, which the Conservatives have accused of being “a provocative partisan stunt”, this is a poor excuse for exclusion – even the relatively recent phenomenon of televised leadership debates has precedent of replacement panellists, as when Amber Rudd stood in for Theresa May in the GE2017 BBC debate. The Tories have also argued, quite correctly, that C4 are in breach of obligations to maintain editorial balance in election coverage, citing Ofcom regulations which require the broadcaster to make reasonable accommodation to fairly represent all major political parties.
C4 should have included Michael Gove in the televised debate, which would have been a proportional accommodation to make to allow the Conservative Party a voice in the debate. Their failure to do this is a disgrace.
They are not solely to blame, however. It has been claimed that C4 consulted the remaining panellists who were scheduled to appear in the debate on whether they wished to permit Gove to participate. If true, what does this tell us about the attitudes of those leaders who refused the opportunity to hold a government minister to account for his record on what they claim is the most important issue of the day?
Simply put, it tells us that the purpose of last week’s debate was never about conducting a serious debate on the climate – it was about ambushing Boris Johnson five to one on national television for political gain. The five leaders who appeared on the panel are not serious about the climate change issue; rather, it is abundantly clear that making a partisan political statement at the expense of the Tories and in cahoots with a complicit national broadcaster was deemed more important than actually holding a relevant government minister to account for his record on the issue at hand. It was a shameful display of political opportunism and cowardice.
The views expressed represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of UK Liberty Party. UK Liberty Party sometimes publishes articles we may disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.