“Young Conservative: ‘Party girls can do politics’” is the headline of a video on the BBC website. It’s a perfect story – attractive teenager on Question Time goes viral for unexpected views on Brexit, thereby giving the press an excuse to run a colourful profile of her.
The 19-year-old Emily Hewertson is a good character – giving level-headed quotes, laughing, making self-deprecating asides and googling her name on camera.
She makes perfect sense as an interviewee.
Watch it here:
But the BBC’s puff piece doesn’t question her about the “old men” in politics she so decries helming the pro-Brexit movement she supports, or how Brexit will impact the lives of young people like her who weren’t eligible to vote in 2016’s referendum. It doesn’t question her on anything, in fact.
It also fails to mention that she’s not simply a regular gal who likes clubbing with a bit of politics on the side. Just an ordinary fan of taking Instagram bikini shots who happens to be a disgruntled former Tory voter.
She’s actually well plugged into the UK’s young right. She’s a member of Turning Point UK, a right-wing pressure group aimed at millennials that posts her videos about politics. She was even described by the Mail as working as an “influencer” for the group. Its US originators have been accused of anti-Islam messages, and identified by the extremism monitor Southern Poverty Law Center in the US as having links to racists. The UK anti-extremism group Hope not Hate found links with radical right-wing activists and conspiracy theorists.
Giving an individual from this movement such a big slot also seems disproportionate. Turning Point UK, whose disastrous launch was covered thoroughly by the BBC, hasn’t had very much influence at all – compared with, say, the young activists in the Labour-supporting Momentum movement, who are rarely given unquestioningly positive coverage.
So by all means, BBC, identify the new figures on the young right if you think they’re interesting. But don’t just give them the soft vox-pop treatment – they’re cleverer than that.
Update 13.04, 6/6/19
Hmmmmmmm. The BBC seems to have accepted it should have mentioned Hewertson’s main political credential, in an update tweeted last night at the take-out-the-trash Twitter time of 6.14pm: “Emily is also an influencer for Turning Point UK, thanks to those that asked us to make this clear”. Why it wasn’t made clear in the actual interview is the question, though – and one it hasn’t even offered a limp tweet to answer.
Emily is also an influencer for Turning Point UK, thanks to those that asked us to make this clear.
— BBC Stories (@bbcstories) June 5, 2019