There is one thing Covid-19 has changed for the better. It’s persuaded No. 10 that Today’s seven million listeners do deserve to hear from a cabinet minister. The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, was the first to appear since the election. The ministerial boycott has actually been welcomed by many, who say it’s made for a better listen. To be fair to politicians, I think that is a comment on us as much as them. People had grown weary of tetchy and unproductive standoffs between presenters who felt their questions were being ignored and ministers who felt frustrated they weren’t being given a chance to get their message across. It will always be a vital part of our role to hold to account those with power — in government, business or anywhere in public life.
What the last few weeks have reminded us, though, is that this is far from the only function of an interview. There is a role for conversation as well as confrontation; enquiry not just cross-examination; explanation instead of disputation. After three years of bitter political divisions, there is a need, indeed a yearning, for light as well as heat.
This article is an extract from Nick Robinson's Spectator diary, available in this week's magazine.