One solution recently mooted for the knotweed-like spread of pundits who are able to shoot their mouths off while knowing not unadjacent to Sweet Jack about any of the subjects concerned is not to invite them to pontificate in the first place. This has not gone down well with those out on the right, but as ever, the opposition often comes riding to your rescue, and this lunchtime on BBC Politics Live it came galloping.
That was because, once again, a show that is meant to be about informed debate invited one Darren Grimes to be a panellist. Grimes may be able to cause his North and South to flap aimlessly while a number of variously formed words emerge, but informed he is not. This deficiency he duly demonstrated in his usual inimitable style: loudly, confidently, but ultimately, vacuously. Perhaps he had not had time to brief himself.
Take, for starters, the Irish elections: “I don't think Sinn Fein are going to pay *any* attention to being ‘reminded’ about anything from Darren Grimes” mused one observer. “‘Sinn Féin’ can't veto any trade deal Mr Grimes. Any government they were part of could” noted another. It then got worse, as Grimes suggested the Coronavirus was not something to get alarmed about. A GP surgery in Brighton just closed because of it.
Still, as Grimes now works for the IEA, at least he would know something about taxation. Like wealth taxes. Sadly, as Julia Simons observed, he knew nothing about that, either. “Darren Grimes: ‘the wealth taxes that we’ve got in this country they’re some of the highest in the Western world…’ … Institute for Fiscal Studies: ‘There is no wealth tax in the UK’ ... facts are so last decade though”. Maybe something about his part of the country?
Sure enough, he got the chance to say something about manufacturing industry in the North East: “‘We've just seen Nissan commit to this country over Europe’ says young Grimes, unchallenged of course … Nissan have categorically denied doing any such thing” noted Briefcase Mike. So he knew nothing about that, either. And just in case anyone mentions the overdue decision on HS2 … he knows nothing about that, too.
Might his presence be because others out there on the right support him? The thought certainly enters when the likes of Julia Hartley Dooda claim “My friend [Darren Grimes] is trending on Twitter because a bunch of people are angrily tweeting that the BBC shouldn’t allow a highly articulate & politically astute young man to give his opinion on TV, while libelling him as a criminal. But, remember, they’re the *nice* people”.
No thanks, I don’t want to look over there. Grimes has been given the chance to talk about a variety of issues du jour and shown that he does not have an intelligent position on any of them, while making the IEA - which, don’t forget, claims to be a charity - look markedly worse. As Stephen Everson put it, “If you were the IEA and were concerned to maintain the appearance that you were an analytically-driven think-tank not a mouthpiece for repeating tired discredited corporate-friendly nostrums, would you appoint *Darren Grimes* and send him into TV studios?”. QTWTAIN.
Darren Grimes may be articulate and opinionated. But so is every flim-flam man, confidence trickster and independent larcenist known to humankind.
Don’t be as gullible as Politics Live. Invite people on who actually know their subject.
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