Iain Dale: Some political journalists seem set on making a drama out of this crisis without a second thought for the national interest

Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.

So there I was – broadcasting from my bedroom. It was about 8.10pm, and I had just finished interviewing the new Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds.

I switched from my email to the Google document on which my producer writes instructions. There it was in black and white: “Just announced – PM taken into intensive care.” While I am used to handling big breaking news stories, this seemed different. From the off, it was clear that we’d need to clear what we had planned, and roll on it.

As soon as I announced the news, my other laptop screen was filled with texts and tweets from listeners expressing their concern for Boris Johnson. Text after text came in from diehard Labour supporters wishing him well. In the following one hour 50 minutes, I didn’t see a single text or tweet which did anything but express an outpouring of love, support and prayers.

Several callers into the show got quite emotional, and at one point, I’ll admit, I nearly lost it too, but thankfully held it together. It was as if the whole country was standing in intensive care by the Prime Minister’s bed, holding his hand and willing him to recover. It was really touching, in a way which I’ll admit I was surprised by. It showed the best of our country.

The next daym I texted him. I’ve no idea when or if he’ll even see the text, but I told him what our listeners were saying and how much support and love for him there was across the airwaves.

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So, we’ve reached Defcon Raab. Dominic Raab may not have the Prime Minister’s flamboyance, but he’s got many of the qualities needed in a reliable deputy. He’s calm, unflappable, organised and unlikely to concentrate on his own ambition.

The task for the Cabinet now is to unite behind him and stop any off the record briefings. So far, that’s seems to have happened. For the country’s sake, let’s hope it continues.

It’s been a mystery as to why most of the media seemed to think there was a power vacuum, and no one knew who was in charge. This was as idiotic as it was preposterous. Having been named as First Secretary of State, it was always clear that Raab would take over in the event that the Prime Minister couldn’t continue. We don’t need a written constitution to tell us that.

It’s yet another example of how the political lobby has let itself down in this crisis. Some political journalists seem intent on making a drama out of a crisis without a second thought for the national interest. The asenine questions that emerge from too many of their mouths during the government briefings are not designed to scrutinise – they are designed to create a ‘gotcha’ moment.

They don’t seek to extract new information or to get the Government minister concerned to explain a bit more. They are just after headlines.

nd regardless of whether someone else has asked a better question, which gets a newsworthy answer, their own broadcast organisation will only ever feature the answer to the question their own journalist asked. It’s all about them, not the issue or the country. That’s not the fault of the journalist, it’s the fault of their editors.

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You can always rely on the EU to f*ck it up in any crisis. Go back to the Balkans, to the financial crisis, to Greece, to the refugee crisis – I could go on – and it will invariably demonstrate that the institution is fundamentally flawed.

Nation state interests come to the fore, and it’s almost impossible to get 27 countries to agree on anything beyond the bland. No amount of cajoling and persuasion from the Commission or Council presidents can change the unarguable fact that when it comes down to it, each nation is in it for itself.

This was demonstrated this week when the EU’s chief scientist, Mauro Ferrari, resigned in high dudgeon, accusing the EU of failing to respond properly to the coronavirus crisis. The EU PR machine hit back and tried to launch a campaign of character assassination against Ferarri. People will draw their own conclusions.

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Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday, leaving the field clear for Sleepy Joe Biden.

There’s still part of me that thinks it won’t be Biden that ends up fighting Donald Trump in November. Or maybe it won’t even be November. There’s nothing in the constitution that allows for postponing a presidential election, but it surely has to remain a possibility given the parlous state that the US finds itself in over Coronavirus.

The White House must surely be wargaming every possible scenario. And if it isn’t, it may live to regret it. Trump’s handling of the crisis has been a disaster in every possible way. It’s got so bad I can’t even bring myself to watch his embarrassing press conferences any longer.

It’s lie after lie. Untruth after untruth. Embarrassment after embarrassment. I’m no fan of Joe Biden, but even a Biden whose mental powers are clearly on the decline, would be better than a president who is addicted to his own brand of untrustworthy narcissism.

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