"So, I'll be on TV?"

by Joe Ridley
31 May 2016

This story – as many stories sadly do – begins with Nigel Farage. A tweet from the UKIP leader, criticising the government’s pledge to commit 0.7% of the UKs budget (£12.2 billion) towards foreign aid appeared in my twitter timeline last month. Use the money to support British people instead, he cried. That the money is used fighting Ebola and extreme poverty, providing education for the world’s poorest and protecting human rights went unmentioned. I’m a MA Human Rights student, and at the heart of Human Rights is the idea that all people have inherent rights simply because they are human. National borders join gender or religion as being irrelevant to the realisation of those rights. Foreign aid promotes and protects human rights, so we must protect it in return.
So cruising somewhere around invisible in the twitterverse with my 12 followers and 200 tweets, I trotted out my response; no Nigel, you’re wrong, we can afford to help people both abroad and at home. By chance, a BBC producer was mining twitter for potential guests for the BBC2 ‘’Victoria Derbyshire’’ current affairs and debate programme and offered me the opportunity to appear the next morning. Self-doubt creeping in, and the prospect of live TV filling me with dread, I didn’t tell anyone. I figured that unless Victoria Derbyshire had a deal with Netflix, my Wednesday morning appearance might just sneak under everyone’s radar. In case of disaster, hide in the obscurity of daytime television.
After desperately searching my student house for an iron, and a frantic trip to the barbers, I was almost ready. ‘’Be like a Lion’’ was my taxi drivers advice, ‘’go in with confidence, like you own the place’’. Good advice for an appearance on an opinion panel, yet harder when your fellow guests are seasoned veterans of the TV sofa, and you’re feeling a distinct sense of imposter syndrome. However, my anxiety was immediately lost amidst my indignation at my opponents arguments.  No, I declared, it’s not us versus them. We don’t have to deprive one to help another. We can help both, we have the capability. Compassion and wealth doesn’t end at the water’s edge.
It’s a cliché that when opportunity knocks, it’s up to you to answer. The truth is that when opportunity knocks, self-doubt knocks back. In that moment it’s just worth remembering that even if you turn back, your opponents probably won’t.

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