After watching Iain Duncan Smith on this mornings Marr show bearing in mind the focus was on a national referendum, it became clear that we need a new form of public discourse. He made a number of dishonest and misleading statements in explaining why he believes we should leave the EU. Whilst he has every right to conclude that Brexit is the right thing to do and to explain why, he is surely not entitled to use a BBC studio to present false information in his cause, no matter how worthy without being challenged. No doubt the same charge could be levied at other speakers on both sides of the debate, but if a newspaper prints false arguments it is expected to correct these. Surely broadcasters must do the same. Perhaps what is needed bearing in mind the public who can be bothered to speak up are complaining that there are too many politicians criticising one another and not enough real information, is a different form of interview. Something that is moderated rather than facilitated. Some examples from todays ‘interview’ were:
There is no definition or core of a single market, in essence it is a figment – According to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union Article 26 The Union shall adopt measures with the aim of establishing or ensuring the functioning of the internal market, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Treaties. The internal market shall comprise an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured in accordance with the provisions of the Treaties. The Council, on a proposal from the Commission, shall determine the guidelines and conditions necessary to ensure balanced progress in all the sectors concerned.
Macedonia in failing to accept people from Greece is creating problems for the EU – Macedonia is not a member of the EU and therefore doing exactly what we want to do (and in effect are doing).
The possibility of the Scots (and Welsh & Irish too) wanting a referendum on the Union if we leave the EU – Duncan Smith variously argued that we have to take one vote at a time, that it was all a matter of nationalists making a fuss and that he really didn’t think it was a risk speaking as someone who was part Scottish. None of this dealt with the substantive issue of what would happen if the union was to break down, or what the UK Government will do in the light of a large majority of Scots, Welsh or Irish votes for the EU but an overall across the UK voting for Brexit.
On the UK standing alone – Iain Duncan Smith claimed we have fought wars alone. Which wars does he mean? The Falklands where we relied heavily on support from our allies, the Boer War? Most wars we have been part of have involved a number of nations alongside.
On Calais – Iain Duncan Smith seemed to believe that having a camp like the Jungle suited the French Government and that they would not relax the border even if we leave because they benefit from the system currently in place. This is clearly not true and whilst the true picture post Brexit will not be clear, it is vital that we have some analysis that goes beyond this level of ignorance.
The EU was created by an ex-communist – I am reliably informed that at the time when Spinelli was a Communist, the rest of Italy was fascist, and that many in the 1920s who were Italian Communists became part of the mainstream in the 1950’s.
As we approach the referendum we need to do better than Marr managed this morning if the public are to be well informed come 23rd June. My idea of moderated interviews may not be the best one, but we cannot continue like today, using public money to allow the likes of Iain Duncan Smith and other Politicians on both sides of the In/Out debate to claim facts that go uncorrected or unchallenged.