Our free and fearless press has once again decided to exaggerate events in another country as a means of diverting attention from the shambles that is Theresa May’s motley crew and the Brexit negotiations, the opportunity being gifted to them by the collapse of coalition talks in Germany. Recent elections meant outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party had to talk to two others in order to stitch together a majority coalition.
A little more to chew on for The Great Man
This was not helped by the centre-left SPD deciding to pass on another “grand coalition”, and so Merkel’s CDU/CSU had been negotiating with the Greens and the Free Democrats. The latter has walked out of talks, thus meaning either more talks, or more elections. It also means pundits in the UK telling everyone who will listen that they know all about German politics, even if, in many cases, they don’t know as much as they claim.
All of which brings us to Andrew Neil, now a BBC host and pundit, and who has decided that he knows everything there is to know about Germany. In this he may have been emboldened by the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph’s claim “Merkel faces battle for survival”, and the Murdoch Times telling readers “May told to exploit Merkel crisis to reduce Brexit bill”. If only he had checked out the Guardian.
“Merkel hints at fresh polls after talks collapse” was their more sober assessment. Germany does things in a more measured and thought-through manner. Talks may resume; they may not. But it is as nothing when put alongside the Brexit brouhaha. That did not deter Neil, who declared “Germany tonight in its biggest political crisis since late 1940s. Bigger even than UK’s current ongoing political crisis”.
Jon Worth, a Brit in Berlin, poured cold water on the idea. “You have not got a clue. One of four parties walked out of coalition talks. It might take a while to find a solution. Big. F**king. Deal”. The Great Man set himself to pour disdain upon this upstart: “Guess you’re not reading/watching German media”. Instead, he was about to get his comeuppance.
“I LIVE in Germany. I am a member of a German political party and am a delegate to its party congress. I follow German politics for my job. And, just maybe, I might know a thing or two about it?” countered Worth, clearly with some exasperation that a supposedly authoritative pundit had not taken the time to figure out who was on the other end of the conversation - or perhaps he didn’t consider such things necessary.
Nor was Neil the only one from the Beeb to be called out by Worth: after political editor Laura Kuenssberg ventured “Merkel mess about as helpful to govt as Chancellor saying ‘there is no unemployment’ at the start of Budget week”, he clearly felt the need to administer a little further education. “Misses the point. No way there was going to be a govt in Germany before December summit anyway. And there was no disagreement in coalition talks about #Brexit. UK *still* needs to get its own act together before seeing problems elsewhere”. No disagreement in coalition talks about Brexit - UK pundits take note.
There is always someone in the world better informed than you. Most of us have long ago figured that out. Sadly, this realisation is yet to reach Andrew Neil.