by Tobias Phibbs
Friday, 7
May 2021
Reaction
11:24

Cummings is right about pointless pundits

Even when they're proven wrong, they act with almost zero accountability
by Tobias Phibbs

As the hot takes swirl around the Twittersphere over today’s elections results, Dominic Cummings tweeted out a warning of his own: don’t listen to the pundits.

On this point, Cummings is surely correct. Even when they’re proven wrong, pundits act with almost zero accountability and this week’s elections will be no different. On days like today, the pundit class will be on full display.

The first thing to notice is that the Pundit is serious and he’s got serious things to tell us — about cut-through, dead cats and ground-game. Sometimes you don’t quite know what he’s talking about, and it never seems to correspond to anything actually happening but it’s all important stuff.

So what have they been saying about the country’s local and national elections? Yesterday, Andrew Adonis, politician turned pundit, said that “today’s elections will come to be seen as a mid-term watershed moment, akin to the 2016 referendum, Black Wednesday in 1992 and the 1981 Warrington by-election.” (You won’t want to miss his new self-published book, either: It’s the Leader, Stupid: Changemakers in Modern Democracies.)

Meanwhile, the centrist pundits who thought Starmer would return Labour to electability (any leader other than Corbyn would be 20 points ahead, of course) charge on regardless, somehow attributing today’s losses to Jeremy Corbyn; those on the Left of the party who referred to the Northern Independence Party as “serious” less than 24 hours ago have gone rather quiet after Thelma Walker managed all of 250 votes.

But ultimately, it doesn’t matter if the pundit’s predictions are right or wrong. Regardless of the results, the pundit is here to helpfully let us know that lessons will have to be learned. Adonis says he has “a lot to say about [the result].” I’m sure. The takes have already been written and if the results confound them then never mind, the pundit will just write some new ones.

Over 50 years ago, Peter Cook wondered whether Britain was in danger of sinking giggling into the sea .The pundit is far too serious to giggle but the seriousness with which he regards things that do not matter contrasts with national silence on those that do. Rates of immigration or competition over rare earth metals and semiconductors will shape our country for decades to come. Real wages are falling, China is building Britain’s infrastructure, and nobody is building Britain’s homes. On these questions the pundit is remarkably quiet.

Join the discussion


  • If pundit be synonymous with expert then I’m 120% with you.

  • Does anyone actually pay any attention to anything Adonis has to say anymore?

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