COLUMN: Keep calm and carry on in testing times

Blaise Tapp
Blaise Tapp

It is true to say that, over time, many journalists develop a deep rooted scepticism, which some would describe as cynicism.

It is hard not to, given the amount of death, destruction and down right bad behaviour which floods into your average newsroom on a regular basis. One of the first things you learn on the job is to never take anything at face value and that it is good practice to question absolutely everything.

It is also follows that is takes an awful lot to impress and surprise your average hack, this one especially, but I am beginning to wonder if all this is going to change in 2016.

The longer that this year goes on, the more I feel that we could be experiencing one of the newsiest 12 months in recent memory.

Much has made of the number of high profile deaths since New Year’s Day, including music icons David Bowie and Prince, not to mention Sir Terry Wogan and comics Ronnie Corbett and Victoria Wood.

Perhaps more significantly are the potential political changes which could occur in the coming months, including the referendum on whether or not we should quit the European Union and the rise and rise of half man, half comedy bouffant, Donald Trump.

It is without question that the poll on June 23 will be the most significant in a generation with its outcome likely to be felt over the course of many years.

A leading expert on European finances recently told a meeting I attended: “The one thing that we know about this referendum is that we don’t know” and this Donald Rumsfield-esque statement made perfect sense to everyone there on the night as the British public has never faced a vote quite like it.

Despite the already long drawn out, some would say turgid, campaign the referendum is still likely to be talked about at the back end of this century.

But it is Trump’s elevation from megarich loudmouth television star to megarich loudmouth contender to be the world’s most powerful person which could be the most significant event of 2016.

If our referendum is a step into the unknown then the prospect of Trump in the White House is beyond the comprehension of most sensible voters everywhere, with the exception of the US, the only place where the opinions of the public actually matters.

Much of the world has watched, open mouthed, as the brashest American who wasn’t in ‘80s soap opera Dallas tours the 50 states, saying pretty much the first thing which enters his head but growing in stature with each ill-considered utterance.

For the first four months of this year the rest of the world viewed each Republican primary election with an increasing sense of foreboding due to the gradual realisation this guy has a chance of becoming President Trump.

If he beats Hillary Clinton then Trump could easily be the biggest story of the decade and one that we in Britain might be really affected by. The possibility of a Trump presidency might be one of the best reasons yet for us to stay in a large, united European Union.

These two big ‘diary dates’ aside, it is unclear whether the treadmill of news will continue at the pace with which the year started but I am already viewing it with wide-eyed enthusiasm rather of a schoolboy rather than the weary cynicism of a hack who thought he had seen it all.