If so, I need to come out and say that I’ll join. Though this may not be the normal mode for this blog, I need to gush for few seconds about the performance of the BBC’s political editor during the days of uncertainty before the Con-Lib coalition was formed last night.
No television reporter who has to use his judgement will ever perfectly satisfy everyone. I have no sense of whether Robinson’s marathon performance over the past five days is the stuff that wins awards. But it deserves to, and it is worth stopping for a moment to list exactly why he is so good at his job.
Consistency and stamina for a start: he looked and sounded the same throughout – a feat that few of us could manage under those pressures. He is as close to even-handedness as is possible compatible with using his judgement to make sense of what is happening: never lost for words but never waffling, always conscious that his job is not to fill airtime but to add value. That sunny on-screen disposition seems to mask iron self-discipline.
No doubt he makes mistakes, but few get brought up. He avoids Alastair Campbell onscreen and so reduces the risk that Campbell will get under his skin. Here is the Adam Boulton-loses-his-rag scene that occurs if this happens – and the complaints that follow.
Nick Robinson has also been notable for something that doesn’t get much credit: restraint and care. I never caught him making perhaps the commonest mistake reporters made during the negotiations: talking about a possible Lib-Lab coalition as if those two parties alone could command a majority in the Commons (they can’t). There weren’t many facts and he managed to stick to the available ones without being dull. Not as easy as it looks. Those skills made him the standout performer on the lacklustre BBC election night coverage.