The Media Needs To Hold May To Account

Since taking power what has Theresa May substantively done? The only thing I can think of was the passage of the Snoopers’ Charter, which incidentally received remarkably little coverage given that it is the most extensive restriction of individuals’ privacy rights. However other than this what has Theresa May done since taking office? Don’t get me wrong, if the Tories won an election and then proceeded to do absolutely nothing I wouldn’t mind that much, the problem with Tories is their horrible policies. Inaction can be good, but in this case it is not.

There is a lot going on in the world and I would expect the Prime Minister to have done something about these things. I’m not only talking about Trump’s election, but I would have expected the Prime Minister to at least comment on the worrying rise of neo-fascism across Europe. I would think that the May would have commented on the systematic persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, or mentioned something about working with the new Gambian President-elect who just unseated a leader who’d been in power since a coup in 1994 but has committed to a peaceful transition of powers.
Now you could say that these are in the purview of the Foreign Secretary and so May shouldn’t have to make a statement. I don’t accept this argument because May remains the Head of Government, but let’s discount these criticisms and only focus on home news. Nobody has any idea what the government’s strategy for Brexit is, the Chancellor has abandoned the philosophical principle that the Tories claim is the source of their economic competence, and May has remained silent on helping communities that are feeling negative consequences from globalisation.
The only reason we know anything about May’s Brexit strategy is because of cock-ups like this. (Steve Back/Barcroft Images)
What has brought on this angry tirade? We live in highly political times where everyone can see that almost all news stories are dripping in ideology and the consequences of government action. However on the BBC News website what is one of the lead politics stories?  Theresa May will watch Doctor Who on Christmas Day. I shit you not.
The media’s job is not to report on what people in power are saying or humanise politicians so they seem like ‘one of us’. The media’s job is to meticulously pick holes in what the government is saying and hold their feet to the fire. There are ordinary people who can’t make ends meet despite working full time jobs but the media is talking about the Prime Minister’s view on Poirot. An example is on wages. The Tories introduced an increase to the minimum wage but re-branded it as the ‘National Living Wage’ even though it isn’t national (it only applies to people over 25) and isn’t a living wage (NLW is £7.20 per hour, the living wage is £8.25/£9.75 in London). Theresa May uses the NLW as a way of illustrating how the Tories are on the side of workers, but nobody ever points out this Orwellian definition.
The Labour Party doesn’t get off scot free either. The Labour leadership needs to stop pissing around with issues that, while important, do not resonate with most voters. Polls consistently show that the top concerns of people are Brexit, the NHS, the economy, and immigration. The job of the Opposition is to hold the government to account and ruthlessly promote their alternative. When the Tories were in Opposition they said something along the lines of ‘Labour’s reckless borrowing’ a million times a day. The consequence of this is that every time Labour suggests spending any money there is a groan from people who have been bombarded with a misleading message that spending ‘too much’ caused the global recession. Get some talking points together which expose the Tories as being heartless liars and pump this message out until you are blue in the face.
The job of the media to keep people in power honest by forcing them to answer difficult questions, and I can think of plenty of questions to ask this Prime Minister. For the record I do not think that all journalists at the BBC are terrible, but the person who sent the memo saying that the television choices of Theresa May was worthy of being called ‘news’ should be sacked. The government has to be accountable to the people, and without a media that will ask these important questions how can the public make an informed decision? Just as bad policy should be pointed out, inaction must be highlighted when there are so much that needs fixing.
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