Opinion

Paul McNamee: The truth is out there – you just have to look for it

"We need to be vigilant. To tell the difference between facts and agenda-driving opinion given wings by blowhards who shout loudest"

Nobody really knows anything. As a basic starting point, I give you Arsenal FC.

They are a big club, one who have been a dominant force in English football for decades, and with a global reach.

Several weeks ago, their long-standing manager Arsène Wenger left the club. Urbane, multi-lingual, he was a chap who always gave the impression of somebody who was trying to remain calm despite having slight acid reflux. Still, he was a great manager. He led Arsenal for 22 years to multiple trophies. His departure prompted lively debate about a successor.

How Britain is constituted after Brexit is just one of those things we need to understand. And only by really understanding can we start building or finding solutions that go beyond the ‘I just feel it’ll be great’ school that has taken hold

Hours and hours of sports radio broadcast was filled with insiders and experts keen to explain who would take over and why. Last week, out of the blue, a man called Unai Emery got the job. Which nobody predicted. He’d been 66/1 just days before. This set up hours more of analysis, a lot of which was angry, with pundits annoyed that they’d not got close to being correct, and so were left looking well outside the tent.

There was a similar moment with the US/North Korea talks. Just a couple of weeks ago, international experts and cheerleaders were heralding Donald Trump’s new no-nonsense non-diplomacy diplomacy. He’d done it, and the Nobel Peace Prize would be a formality!

Fast forward a month and The Donald is sending weird notes calling the whole thing off, but still asking for Kim to give him a quick ring. Like it was a mate who annoyed him at a Christmas party, but time to let bygones be bygones. Nobody quite predicted that.

Meanwhile, last week the Institute For Fiscal Studies said the only way to keep the NHS afloat was to increase annual taxes by at least £2,000 per household.

This is a dramatic finding, one with huge importance, both because of the change it would bring to individuals and how we view the tax system in Britain, and because of what it means for the NHS.

There was a lot less on this than Wenger’s successor. It’s understandable. Talking football is preferable to talking tax.

But a problem arises here with conflation.

We’re in an age when all stories, regardless of their genesis or their basis in fact, are allowed to oxygenate and receive equal billing and, most importantly, equal credibility.

And because a lot of this happens on social media, agendas grow and how a story is presented becomes more important than facts.

This is not new. But it’s accelerating, and while it might be dreary, we need to be vigilant.

In the coming weeks and months, we have to be able to tell the difference between facts and agenda-driving opinion given wings by blowhards who shout loudest. At The Big Issue, we will do this. We make a pledge to redouble efforts to cut through the self-serving flannel. It’s never been more vital. How Britain is constituted after Brexit is just one of those things we need to understand. And only by really understanding can we start building or finding solutions that go beyond the ‘I just feel it’ll be great’ school that has taken hold.

Some people DO know things. And we should listen to them, ask them questions, provide ideas and use smarts and facts to build solutions.

Of course, we can still talk about football.

Where do you stand on José…

Main image: Michael Vadon/Flickr

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
My child was awarded disability benefits after five years of fighting. Why don't I feel victorious?
disability benefits/ mother and child
Cathy Reay

My child was awarded disability benefits after five years of fighting. Why don't I feel victorious?

Four million Brits struggle with problem debt. Now's the time for the next government to step up
debt
Vikki Brownridge

Four million Brits struggle with problem debt. Now's the time for the next government to step up

There's so many questions needing answers this general election it's hard to zone in on just one
Rishi Sunak calling a July 4 general election on May 22
Paul McNamee

There's so many questions needing answers this general election it's hard to zone in on just one

This government failed to end rough sleeping – so now they're trying to police it out of existence
The Criminal Justice Bill criminalises rough sleeping
Tom Kerridge

This government failed to end rough sleeping – so now they're trying to police it out of existence

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know