YP Comment: Fatal flaws in Blair’s Brexit – stop patronising the electorate

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair during his speech on Brexit at an Open Britain event in central London.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair during his speech on Brexit at an Open Britain event in central London.
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IT DID not take long for Tony Blair’s call for a people’s movement against Brexit to be mocked – and with considerable justification.

This is the same Mr Blair who appeared to totally disregard a mass movement of hostile public opinion when it came to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

This is the same Mr Blair whose total acquiescence of the European Union helped to fuel the clamour for last June’s referendum.

And this is the same Mr Blair who, like so many establishment figures, remains in denial about the electorate’s verdict.

That said, the views of the former Prime Minister are entitled to be heard with courtesy – even though he says he has no intention of putting his pro-EU views, and maligned reputation, to the ultimate test by standing for public office.

For, like it or not, he was withering in his condemnation of Labour’s totally ineffectual leadership under Jeremy Corbyn and how this was one of the “facilitators of Brexit”.

How ironic that Mr Blair’s analysis should be delivered at the same time that Ukip’s own discredited leader Paul Nuttall was promising to exempt fish and chips from VAT – this juxtaposition speaks volumes about the febrile state of politics, the level of disenchantment amongst the North’s working class voters and the resulting fragmentation of an electorate which will no longer be taken for granted.

And while many will resent the former Labour leadership’s more patronising remarks, namely that they did not understand the consequences of Britain leaving the Single Market 
and so on, he does have just cause when he questions whether Theresa May has been left at the mercy of her 
more fanatical Brexit supporters.

Yet, rather than looking to foster a greater rift between the public and a Government tasked with upholding the democratic will of the people, it was perhaps too much to expect Mr Blair to be more constructive and collegiate in his approach.

Duty to challenge

IF 2016 will go down in history as the year of ‘Brexit’ and Donald Trump’s election, it’s dispiriting that this year will be defined, in part, by the extent to which politicians use the term ‘fake news’ to dismiss uncomfortable truths.

Though the chief culprit remains President Trump, others under pressure – notably Jeremy Corbyn – have attempted to use this ruse and others will doubtless follow.

As Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murphy tweeted so succinctly: “Please get this politicians: “Fake News” is made up, intended to deceive. Bad journalism and inconvenient good journalism are not fake news.”

This sentiment goes to the core of this newspaper’s mission and its founding principle in 1754: “The Yorkshire Post will lay before the public information both exhaustive and precise.” They are the words that have passed the test of time with three prime examples being this newspaper’s exposure of the Donnygate scandal 20 years ago; revelations into the misconduct of a succession of chief constables and other public servants and the Government’s complacent response to the 2015-16 winter floods.

All three could have been dismissed at the outset as ‘fake news’. Yet they were in the public interest and only published once their providence had been established. Equally this test means there are many investigations which do not come to light – readers have a right to expect the highest standards at all times. Contrary to the misconceived views of some, newspapers do not publish and be damned. That The Yorkshire Post’s audience is growing, thanks to new digital platforms, is testament to the trust that exists between this title and its readers – there is nothing fake about it. And that is why we will challenge any politician who uses the ‘fake news’ defence until we are satisfied that their motives are justifiable.

Football’s values

MANY football traditionalists lament the fact that the FA Cup is no longer taken seriously by the so-called big clubs who cheapen the competition by fielding much weakened sides.

Yet a by-product is less fashionable teams, including two gallant non-league sides, reaching this weekend’s pivotal fifth round when Huddersfield Town – last victorious 95 years ago – have the honour of hosting Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Let’s hope this remains the year of the underdog, one in which the FA Cup is restored to its rightful place as the most cherished club competition in the land because it is the one occasion when journeymen players – those who compete for the love of the game – get the chance to line up against some of the finest exponents of their sport.