An adequate politician needs courage to have enough confidence to address a difficult situation and seek a solution. An adequate political journalist needs courage to have enough confidence to provide full investigation and analysis of politicians’ acts and words.
Intellectual courage is necessary; a politician or political journalist needs to trust their capacity to inspect, analyse, deduce and conclude while not deviating erroneously.
Professional courage is necessary; a politician or political journalist needs to subdue or overcome tendencies to worry about their professional status or its longevity.
Possession of such courage is not optional. It separates those who are able from those who merely aspire. It also separates those who are able and suitable from those who are charlatans and liars.
Today (Autumn 2019), British government and British political journalism are bereft of courage. There is not the slightest echo of courage of thought or deed anywhere in Downing Street, Whitehall, newspaper offices or television and radio studios. Cowardice has consumed.
Boris Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May’s tenure was defined by her cowardice. She never attempted to answer a question in House of Commons or in media interviews for fear of revealing her stupidity or her deception, she campaigned for an election (in 2017) without meeting the public for fear of having to speak off script and she chose to lie relentlessly rather than make definite statements for fear of restricting herself with her own words.
Boris Johnson’s behaviour makes May seem courageous by comparison. Johnson’s weak upbringing, enhanced by the Eton machine, produced a waffling streak of urine that combines extreme laziness, wilful ignorance, grotesquely misplaced arrogance and a criminal mind all of which is underpinned by a full commitment to cowardice.
Johnson dodges questions in parliament by use of incoherent waffle infused with abuse and squirrel pointing, his speeches are a cacophony of eclectic utterances barely within sentences and accompanied by arm-waving and noises, in media interviews he avoids questions and reacts like a petulant teenager and whenever a public statement is needed from the prime minister on an important issue Johnson hides behind the sofa while Dominic Cummings defecates deceptive trash disguised as a “leak” for the (equally cowardly) media to lap up obediently.
The cabinet of pleurisities beside Johnson share his embedded cowardice. Think-tank gimp Dominic Raab, bankers’ plant Sajid Javid, “hang ’em high” Priti Patel, Institute of Economic Affairs’ employee Matt Hancock and the rest enjoy avoiding scrutiny by never expressing clear plans or responses and communicating via casual remarks. They refuse to explicitly state their intent, conclusions of analysis or unambiguous opinions because they fear that any declared certainty would collapse immediately after the slightest inspection of veracity. They are right to assume there would a swift collapse of their assertions because they are illusory. Their cowardice directs them toward evasion and vacuity; in that sense their cowardice is useful.
In TV and radio studios and in the pages of newspapers cowardice dominates political discussion, reporting and interview style. The inspiration for weak minds varies: Most newspapers are owned by tax-dodging towrags who use their newspapers to promote policy that favours the wealthiest elite; many TV and radio stations are owned by similar arsewhipes and their presenters and reporters are wary of damaging their career paths; at the BBC the fear is the spectre of charter renewal and this fear is passed down from Director-General Tony Hall.
A factor that encourages lack of courage in broadcasting is the desire to acquire “exclusive” interviews. Whenever Peston, Rigby or Marr congratulate themselves on the exclusivity of an interview with a politician then it is guaranteed the said interview will be undemanding for the interviewee. An example of such an interview was Jon Sopel allowing a platform for extreme-right white supremacist Steve Bannon.
The flipside to exclusive interviews is banishment of broadcasters or newspapers if they dare to present a challenge to government. Channel 4 is ostracised by the Tory government because it refused to be obsequious enough; in particular, its presenters were willing to say that Johnson and his cronies lie. Channel 4’s lack of cowardice is uncommon in other media outlets.
A cowardly government and cowardly news media combine to leave the public without information, without analysis and without truth. The beneficiaries are the wealthiest exploiters and tax-dodgers for whom the Tories work.