Outside the liberal echo chamber that sees peril in almost anything hoving in from the right, here’s a considered note of sanity from Jeremy Paxman:
“I don’t like these media class sneerings about Trump,” Paxman said. “I don’t share his politics on many things, but he was elected on that cockamamie system that they’ve got. He was elected president. And we should respect that.”
Responding to a question from the audience about whether his views on Trump had changed since presenting the Panorama special 100 Days of Trump, Paxman said: “In some respects, he has done rather better than many people had expected.” Paxman was on stage with the comedian Marcus Brigstocke, who laughed at that comment. Paxman retorted: “Well, it won’t satisfy you sneery media types.”
Paxman said he strongly believed people have to vote “to be able to express an opinion” about politics. “The extraordinary thing is the number of people who talk about this being an abomination who didn’t bother to vote,” he said, referring to Trump’s election in November. “Of course, Hilary Clinton was a terrible candidate, but the fact of not voting disqualifies you, or it seems to me ought to disenfranchise you from passing any comment at all.”
Paxman, who once upbraided Russell Brand for not voting because he “can’t be arsed”, said he would make sure to cast his ballot in the general election on 8 June – despite living “in an era of pretty stunted politicians”.
“There have been elections I haven’t voted in,” Paxman told the Hay audience. “The last time I didn’t vote, I was quite comfortable with my decision until about 7 ’o clock at night when I was at work and it was too late to do anything about it. And I felt more and more uncomfortable.
“We’re not given a great choice. But in the end, making decisions is very difficult. To be forced to make a decision every few years in order to put someone there who will make your decisions for you seems not to be a bad thing to do.”
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty