Saturday 11 June 2022

In Poor Nick

Has the normally supremely self-confident Nick Robinson had his wings clipped? 

A highly prolific Tweeter, he's fallen silent in recent days, despite not being on holiday from Radio 4. Maybe after having to apologise for wrongly and repeatedly claiming a Ministry of Justice cleaner died 'of Covid' while working in 'Downing Street' his bosses have asked him to rein himself in a bit?

His silent stands out this week because Charles Moore has given him both barrels in The Spectator and Nick on previous occasions has mounted his high horse and galloped straight out onto Twitter to blow his own bugle and rally the troops as fast as you can say 'Nick Robinson'. This time though, crickets and tumbleweed...

Intriguingly, his silence began on the day he made the error Charles Moore describes.

Here's the passage from The Spectator:
Nick Robinson of the BBC devotes his considerable energies to removing Boris. Presumably with this confirmation bias, Robinson kept repeating on Today on Tuesday that Johnson’s vote was ‘worse than Margaret Thatcher’s in 1990’. This was an odd thing to say, partly because they were different types of vote (his a no-confidence one, hers a leadership election), but mainly because it is untrue. In 1990, Mrs Thatcher received 204 votes from an electorate of 372. In 2022, Boris Johnson received 211 votes from an electorate of 359. I am no statistician, but I make that more votes, both proportionally and absolutely, for him than for her. In the same programme, the political editor, Chris Mason repeated LBJ’s dictum that the first requirement in politics is to be able to count. He politely did not point out that his illustrious predecessor in the job seems to lack that skill.

Here are Nick Robinson's remarks from that 7 June edition of Today:

  • 6:12 - On one measure the Prime Minister got fewer votes the Margaret Thatcher when she was challenged back in 1990.
  • 7:09 - His critics, you won't be surprised to hear, see it somewhat differently, pointing out that Boris Johnson did less well than Theresa May, John Major, even Margaret Thatcher, when they faced challenges from their MPs.
  • 7:42 - So history will not repeat itself? Boris Johnson will not have to go, in your view, simply because he did worse than Margaret Thatcher?
  • 7:47 - I've just been speaking to one of the veterans of the Margaret Thatcher leadership contest. Boris Johnson did worse than Margaret Thatcher. But they say, doesn't matter.
As far as I can see [via TVEyes] Today hasn't corrected this either.

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