In praise of… Stephen Nolan

Now there’s a headline I never thought I would write on Slugger. I should say from the outset that I don’t general demur from Jeff’s criticism of the big man. 

He is rude (though on the few occasions I’ve ever been invited onto his show) never to me personally, and he does talk over people. Sometimes his populist treatment of complex policy issues badly sells us all a bit short of the truth.

But he did do something very useful for the public debate in NI in rather brutally nailing a large lie at the heart of the Leave campaign: the £350 million pw transfer (a figure Nigel Farage reportedly refuses to use).

The most disturbing aspect of the campaign – before yesterday’s tragic events – has been Leave’s literally incredible insistence on muddying the waters on this one central fact, that isn’t actually a fact.

It has been akin to Gerry Adams’ ridiculous denials that he was ever in the IRA and just as corrosive to proper democratic discourse.  Corrosive because of that special appeal to the right to have your own facts in addition to opinions.

It’s become commonplace in our ‘on the one hand and on the other’ media style to allow public figures to pass the counterfeit as genuine without challenge. Nolan’s prep on this was forensic in that regard, for which he deserves praise. 

More of that sort of thing…

  • Slater

    Do you quote your current salary to potential new employers as net or gross?

  • On the fence!

    I always seen the most commonly reported figure of the UK’s net contribution to the EU as being somewhere in the region of £8-9billion pa, which obviously does NOT equate to this £350 million per week which seems to have become such a bone of contention.

    Whoever has been responsible for bring it to such prominence certainly does the “leave” campaign no good at all, especially given that the commonly agreed figure is shocking enough anyway!

  • AMORR86

    ‘The most disturbing aspect of the campaign – before yesterday’s tragic events – has been Leave’s literally incredible insistence on muddying the waters on this one central fact, that isn’t actually a fact.’

    Mick – Do you think that the murder of Jo Cox was an ‘aspect of the campaign?’

  • AndyB

    Not an equivalent. The £350m a week figure includes a rebate that never leaves HM Treasury, whereas every penny of your salary is paid to someone, be it yourself, any regular deductions, or to HMRC.

  • Nevin

    “Nolan’s prep on this was forensic in that regard, for which he deserves praise.”

    Focusing on one claim doesn’t necessarily reflect public opinion on a range of claims by the opposing camps.

    The Telegraph, which probably has its own editorial agenda, has been looking at a range of claims, concluding that some are wrong and others can’t be validated. On the UK net contributions, these are estimated to be about £10 billion per year over these past few years and well up on the £5 billion figure around seven or eight years ago. That £10 billion is of the order of the claimed subvention to Northern Ireland. I don’t recall Stephen mentioning this doubling of the UK EU ‘subvention’ or putting it in the context of the UK NI subvention.

    The Independent has been looking at the latest Ipsos-Mori poll:

    Supplementary questions in the poll suggest that key economic arguments made by Leave are cutting through with voters, while Remain is floundering.

    Just 17 per cent of voters believe George Osborne’s key claim that households will be £4,300 worse off after Brexit, while 47 per cent accept Vote Leave’s statement that Britain pays £350 million to the EU every week.

    That fact comes despite almost all economists and economic organisations backing the Treasury’s claim and deriding Vote Leave’s as misleading.

    Perhaps the referendum vote will us more about public opinion of the UK government than about the drift towards an EU super-state.

  • Acrobat_747

    The leave campaign have sown the seeds of their own destruction should Brexit happen.

    Brexit is mutually assured destruction for both sides.

  • Jollyraj

    An interesting companion piece to the previous article. And sure isn’t the truth somewhere in between – he’s more than just a portly Jeremy Kyle, but less than a Jeremy Paxman.

  • chrisjones2

    1 what has your post got to do with the topic

    2 your comment is nonsense and purile

  • chrisjones2

    Yes ….its not £350m a week net …..its only about £150m to 200m a week net

    So that is alright then. Its not 10 new hospital builds or 30 new schools a week…its only 5 new hospitals / 15 schools every week

  • Acrobat_747

    You spelt puerile incorrectly. However, I get the feeling you might not be having the best day so I’ll not tease you about it. I’m just highlighting it to help you.

  • Acrobat_747

    1. What’s this got to to do with an article on Nolan.

    2. Your comment is nonsense and puerile.

  • Zorin001

    Nothing happens in a vacuum, and the rancour both in the political class and the general public around this referendum surely can’t have helped.

  • Reader

    Mick Fealty: But he did do something very useful for the public debate in NI in rather brutally nailing a large lie at the heart of the Leave campaign: the £350 million pw transfer…
    It would have been even more useful if he gave the correct figure – did he?

  • Nimn

    Mick, I’f you’re suggesting Nolan nailed it on the show, then he ‘nailed’ old news and merely followed the herd in trotting out a challenge, which has been running for a few weeks now. I’ve never known Nolan’s prep to be forensic on anything other than his acute nose for playing the man or woman rather than the ball when he knows he can. He is rarely interested in getting it right, but very interested in embarrassing and cornering his guests if there is any chance of doing so.
    If he had wanted to be forensic in his analysis he would have walked the Leave members through the construction of that figure step by step, but of course he didn’t because he was reading from a prepared script.
    However would we have been any the wiser had he done so? We have now reached a point in this referendum where many people inclined to leave and making up their minds want to believe that £350m pw is correct because the analysis of it has been so thoroughly obfuscated by so many commentators that people don’t know what to believe.

  • AMORR86

    I believe that Mick has inferred that the murder of Jo Cox was an ‘aspect of the [Leave] campaign’. I want to know if this is what he really believes.

  • AMORR86

    Can something be nonsense and puerile at the same time?

  • Slater

    That’s top slicing, a practice carried on throughout the public service. It doesn’t change the reality (and the rebate is being eroded).

  • ted hagan

    Enough of this self-delusion for goodness sake.

  • Sherdy

    As long as the ‘nonsense’ is not perpetrated by a female!

  • aquifer

    “commonplace in our ‘on the one hand and on the other’ media style to allow public figures to pass the counterfeit as genuine without challenge”

    Thanks Mick. for your public service webcasting with no license fee.

    Too often the media allow logically fragile posturing to pass unchallenged, devaluing reason itself, perhaps hoping in vain that the opposition will take time to explain.

    Children can then assume it is OK to spout selfish nonsense.

    We are running a monster factory where adults have abdicated in favour of mouthy maggots.

  • Nimn

    Good post. Thank you.

  • Kevin Breslin

    In condemnation of Mick Fealty

    The decline of turnout and the introduction of The Nolan Show is not entirely a coincidence.

    Frankly The Nolan Show Audience Show is a poor substitute for what the Civic Forum was meant to be.

  • Jag

    Is this the same Stephen Nolan who maintains Westminster gives us £10bn a year?

    If Radio Face (copyright, Slugger O’Toole Sept 2014 https://sluggerotoole.com/2014/09/23/robinson-tweets-out-the-old-and-tweets-in-the-news/ ) is able to disentangle the gross £350m a week given to Brussels from the financial transfers in the other direction, why isn’t he able to do the same for Northern Ireland and its financial relationship with Westminster?

    And no, it’s not a net of £3bn either; if you capture the notional corporation tax on all activity originating in NI (think the bottle of wine you buy from Sainsburys down the end of the Falls Road and the capture of taxes including taxes on profits linked to that transaction), we may actually be in surplus.

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