Coventry Uni guest talk with MP Geoffrey Robinson (Oct 2012) – 134MC

As someone that doesn’t have an interest in politics I went into this talk as a bit sceptical, as I wasn’t sure if I would actually take away something from it. In fact I didn’t know who Geoffrey Robinson was so after some quick googling I found out he was part of the British Labour party and has been an MP for Coventry North West since 1976. In a way I was pleasantly surprised as I found what he had to say interesting but also confirmed what I already knew that politicians and the press don’t have a good relationship.

When asked about his relationship with the press and how he felt about the press publishing things about him, he said that some journalists are good but others go a bit too far. He felt a bit violated but He also knew that this is what you let yourself into when becoming a politician saying that when people go into politics, they have to accept your private life doesn’t exist. He thinks that the press need stricter rules as he feels that politicians deserve more of a private life but he did go on to say that France has too much privacy for politicians claiming that the last French Prime Minister was sleeping with 17 year olds and fathered a child and the Public did’t know.

The obvious question that was going to come up was about the MP expenses scandal. Mr Robinson said it was disgraceful and that there is a difference between an allowance and an expense.

When asked about improving a relationship between the governement and the press he said that there is a natural non-avoidable conflict between the press and the government and what we all do isn’t that different. He claimed that our job, as journalists is to get behind the details, to see what the real sit and policies are and if there is something that has to be exposed, we must but we have to be honest, factorial and not to break the law or government guide lines. He also said that although the press is good for society and keeps a necessary check on the power the government has he also argued that some journalists can over do it in exposing the truth.

He is in favour of sixteen year olds to vote as they can go and fight for their country so should be able to vote as well and claimed that the labour party is more open to the idea of sixteen year olds to vote but they wouldn’t necessarily promote the idea. He compared the idea to the times before women were able to vote, as people were against the idea then as they thought they were naive but time has shown they are capable of making up their minds and thinks the same for sixteen year olds.

From this talk I gathered that Geoffrey Robinson fits into the public stereotype of a politician as I felt that whenever we asked him a question he would answer it in a way that he wanted to and not necessarily the answer that was needed for the question asked. I’ve gone out of the talk still having no interest in politics but perhaps a little bit more enlightened on the relationship between press and government even though Mr. Robinson seemed a bit negative towards the press from his own experiences when the press exposed him lending money to a fellow colleague to buy a house with government money which then resulted in him resigning.

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