Saturday 30 January 2021

That said

Talking about Lewis Goodall (as I always seem to be), his Twitter feed last night was characteristic: 

  • Absolutely extraordinary. A trade border on the island of Ireland has been created at the stroke of a pen in Brussels - and yet no-one there thought to tell anyone in Belfast or Dublin. 
  • Throughout the Brexit process there was (justifiable) criticism from Dublin and Brussels that the British government seemed insensitive to the particular problems of Northern Ireland and the problems around the border. Now the shoe is firmly on the other foot. 
  • That said, it is possible to think that the EU is behaving very badly but also recognise that the post-Brexit relationship (and how new it is) does build in a certain instability in the EU/UK relationship and (as many of us have pointed out) an especially perilous position for NI, as it is, betwixt and between the two. We’re [seeing] some of those dynamic play out. 
  • The fact is, this is going to happen a lot. Northern Ireland’s status is now deeply uncertain. The new order post-Brexit hasn’t even been completed, let alone embedded. Every crisis is going to stress test them and the players involved. It’s inherently quite unpredictable. 
  • In amongst all of the vaccine news and the EU/UK/NI discord it’s been easy to miss the news yet another appalling day of deaths. 1,245 added to the official tally. 104,371 now. The 7 day average only just beginning to edge down. 
  • We’ve become part-inured to these numbers. They’ve become part of the background noise to the day, save for the big thresholds like 100k. But they remain exceptionally high. Profound questions to be answered about whether sorrow could have been prevented.
  • I didn’t think It’s a Sin could be a more sublime bit of TV making but the nod to the Resurrection of the Daleks has made me giddy.

I wrote this last night: 

Even by Lewis's standards this is extraordinary. Concede a tiny bit, suggest equivalence, then put in a 'but' ("That said...") and shift the blame away from the EU onto our Brexit settlement, and tie it all into what you've previous said (thus 'showing' yourself to have been far-seeing along). And then swiftly change the subject and try to re-shift the focus onto your main theme: how bad the UK government is. Then move on...

Was that fair?

Others saw it the same way:

Laura Kuenssberg: EU sources describing decision as an 'oversight'. 
Paul Williams: Even Lewis Goodall wouldn't come up with an excuse for them as bad as that. Even though he is trying to do that right now.
Manchester Man: Nice try at diversion Lewis, tugging at heart strings, but YOU KNOW the big story today is the EU’s vaccine debacle. We don’t need reminding by hacks of the human toll of this pandemic. Your job is to report the big news of the day.

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