I probably shouldn’t start my Sunday mornings by looking at Twitter, but that’s what I did yesterday. It’s how I saw the news that drone strikes had taken down a massive chunk (half, according to some reports) of Saudi oil production.
Not everything that gets tweeted and retweeted on Twitter is necessarily to be believed, so I went to the BBC news website – and sure enough the story was there. However, the top story was the defection of an ex-Tory MP to the Liberal Democrats.
It was the same thing throughout the day on all the BBC broadcast reports that I saw and heard: the Lib Dems given more prominence than an event of possible world-historical significance.
The attack in Saudi Arabia over the weekend lies at the intersection of three hugely consequential developments: (1) The rapid evolution and proliferation of drone warfare. (2) The deadly conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran and their respective allies. (3) The extreme vulnerability of the global oil and gas supplies to (1) and (2).
One has to ask in what world is any of that less important than the Lib Dem conference?
The answer is the world of weekend current affairs coverage – particularly Sunday mornings and lunchtimes, which for some reason are seen as an ideal time to focus on the trivialities of domestic party politics. Don’t we get enough of that during the week? Don’t our MPs have constituents to serve and homes to go to? Can we not end the ghastly parade of politicians in their unconvincing casual wear?
Switch off the circus for two days straight and we might just discover there’s a world beyond Westminster politics, beyond Brexit even – and there’s much more that we really need to know about.