I’m a proud lefty. I joined the Labour Party as a teenager and am still a member today. I’m also a political journalist and to me, that means balancing the political debate. I take that very seriously.
So what am I doing on GB News? It’s “right-wing, shouty telly” isn’t it? I’d ask you to watch my political show and draw your own conclusions as to whether there’s anything right wing or shouty about it. I promise that you’ll just get balanced and impartial debate. I’ve made thousands of political programmes and I’m proud that I’m doing this one differently.
In my GB News programme The Real Me, I want to get to know our politicians beyond the slogans and posturing, to understand their personalities and give viewers an insight into who the individuals that make our laws really are. It is the very opposite of shouty. It’s inclusive, tolerant, open-minded and respectful.
Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft revealed that she is a survivor of child sexual abuse. Conservative MP Tracey Crouch told me how it feels to go through a miscarriage. Labour MP Wes Streeting talked about his struggle to reconcile being gay with his Christianity. Tory MP Robert Halfon discussed the challenges of navigating parliament with his form of cerebral palsy that makes walking difficult. Yesterday, Tan Dhesi, the first turban-wearing British Sikh MP, talked about racism. It’s not all trauma. I giggled when Brexit hardliner Steve Baker MP told me how he fell in love with his wife at first sight and that his chat-up line was, “Hi, my name is Steve Baker.”
We also report on the debates that take place every day in parliament but are rarely covered anywhere else. Every Monday, MPs discuss an issue which has come before parliament because 100,000 members of the public have signed a petition that demanded it be debated. This democracy in action is routinely ignored by the mainstream media, so GB News is giving a voice to these underrepresented issues and people.
I sometimes vehemently disagree with colleagues. That’s life in a liberal democracy. But I’ve also formed friendships with people I previously wouldn’t have given the time of day to. If I’d met former Brexit MEP Alex Phillips on a political panel show a few years ago, we would have dismissed one another’s views as deplorable. It would have been memorable only for a record amount of finger-wagging. But when Alex and I talk about feminism or the frustrations of living in a country where being born with a silver spoon counts for more than your talent, we are in complete agreement.
And can you really see journalists of the calibre of Simon McCoy, Colin Brazier and Alastair Stewart shouting people down or anchoring a show on the “British Fox News”? The friendship I’ve forged with builder’s son and award-winning economics journalist Liam Halligan is genuine and heartfelt, though we disagree constantly.
So who is watching GB News? Nothing beats knocking on doors as an MP if you want to discover what the UK really thinks, but my enduring friendships with my working class mates from childhood kept me grounded when I moved down to London.
Call me chippy if you like, but the friendships I’ve made in adult life are also predominantly with people from working class backgrounds. When they tell me their nan, or auntie or dad watch GB News every day I feel nothing but pride. I know I’m reaching an audience outside of London – those hard-working Brits who have been ignored by the mainstream media for so long. That’s what’s driven me throughout my life, both in politics and journalism.
My working class background has always shaped who I am and what I stand for, but when I look at the background of some of my colleagues, my childhood struggles pale into insignificance. Kenyan-born Mercy Muroki became a mum at 18 while claiming universal credit, got a first class degree, and she has just received an MSc from Oxford. I’m in awe of her.
Michelle Dewberry was raised on a Hull council estate and left school at 16 with two GCSEs. Neither share my politics but who am I to judge them for coming to a different conclusion than me? I’ve no idea what the politics of the CEO Angelos Frangopoulos is – which is proper – but I do know his dad was a taxi driver. I have worked in a lot of newsrooms during my journalistic career and I can tell you from firsthand experience that this diversity just doesn’t happen elsewhere.
Why have I written this piece? Because I’m fed up with people who don’t watch GB News defining who we are and what we stand for. So my message to my fellow lefties is simple: come on the channel. You’re always welcome and we will, genuinely, listen to you.