West Midlands Journalists’ Charity welcomes Robert Peston as guest of Honour at annual lunch
The West Midlands branch of the Journalists’ Charity welcomed the BBC’s former economics editor Robert Peston as guest of honour at its annual fundraising lunch which raised £17,000.
The event at Edgbaston Stadium, sponsored by Pertemps Network, was Mr Peston’s first public appearance since his high-profile move from the BBC to ITV, where he is set to host a Sunday morning current affairs programme starting in January 2016.
A capacity audience in the stadium’s banqueting suite enjoyed a conversation with the award-winning broadcaster conducted by ITV News Central presenter Bob Warman, with guests invited to submit their own questions too.
Asked about his ITV move Mr Peston said: “The reason I jumped ship was that it was simply an opportunity I couldn’t refuse – an opportunity to create a new current affairs programme on a Sunday.
“You don’t get those opportunities as a journalist very often. I was incredibly excited and remain incredibly excited.
“ITV has been out of that territory for a long time. They want to invest in serious journalism and current affairs.
“For someone who has been a passionate working journalist for 30 years I simply couldn’t refuse.
“The BBC have incredibly successful shows such as Andrew Marr. Not in my wildest dreams did I think they were going to create another one or sack any of those brilliant people.
“It would have been completely unrealistic to have expected that from the BBC.”
Mr Peston said his excitement was fuelled by the fact now was one of the most interesting times in politics for decades with the question of Europe being “hugely important” but one that was far from a “black and white” issue.
He said: “Right now we are seeing remarkable things – the rise of the SNP and UKIP. In the US you have Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump on the left and right.
“Millions of people have lost confidence in the political system.
“People we would have called fringe politicians are now calling the shots..
“We have never seen the hard left running the Labour Party – it is extraordinary.”
Asked if he thought the Labour Party might split Mr Peston said they would look at what happened with the SDP as a “disincentive” but added that it was difficult to see how the centre right of the party might gain control.
He said: “Forty nine per cent of ordinary Labour Party members voted for Corbyn in the first ballot.
“They thought we don’t care. They are idealists.
“Right now it is difficult to see how you regain control.”
Asked what his opinion was on the state of the UK economy Mr Peston said: “The British economy is currently doing well compared to many of our competitors.
“We have grown the third fastest of the big economies but we are still too dependent on domestic consumption.
“We need to get the debt down so we can get the cost of money back to something more sensible, so debt decisions get taken in a more rational way.”