Friday, 8 July 2011

The breakdown of trust

Much hand-wringing has been taking place about the damage to journalism caused by the actions of the News of The World. It is perhaps worth mentioning at the outset what I consider a thoughtful "comment piece" in the Mail, although even this piece seems to have forgotten something. Eamonn Butler has highlighted a very valid point in a post which appears on the Adam Smith Institute website, a post which shows that it is not just the News of The World that has suffered a breakdown of trust.

As with all hand-wringing amongst the press and political elite nowadays, it seems slightly misdirected and, unspoken, repeats the mantra that "lessons must be learned". The Mail maintains that the actions of one newspaper has besmirched the reputation of journalism in general and in so doing inflicted irreparable harm on press freedom. The newspaper continues by saying that it does not dance on the NoTW's grave as the death of any newspaper diminishes democracy. It makes a valid point in stating that if politicians and others are demanding an inquiry into events at the NoTW, then there should have been an inquiry into the scandal of MPs expenses; to which I would add there should also be an inquiry into the actions of 900+ police officers who breached Data Protection laws.

It is all very well for the Mail to write about besmirching journalism and diminishing democracy, but what the hell has the media in general been doing for the past years if not just that with their 'cut & paste standard of journalism; their failure to report and investigate just what this country's membership of the EU entails for every man, woman and child; their failure to report on the outpourings of Kinnock, Heseltine et all and their EU pensions, together with the conditions attached to the receipt of those pensions; and their failure (Booker & Delingpole excepted) to report and investigate the subject of 'environmentalism' and the long-term cost effects it will have on our society. Where has been the media voices criticising the power of patronage that lies within the remit of a prime minister? Where has been criticism of the lack of representation for their constituents by Secretaries of State, Ministers and PPSs as a result of always having to support the government of the day when divisions are called in the HoC? Where has been the criticism, rightly held by a good number of the population, that the press are sitting comfortably in the pockets of the political elite - and, quite possibly, vice versa? Where has been the criticism of the political elite that they did not take much notice of the 'hacking' question until it became known that their own phones may have been targeted? Which media outlet has questioned why that of which the NoTW is accused, is carried out quite legally by the state at all levels of government? 

Eamonn Butler is quite correct when he writes that politicians and the media are guilty of self-aggrandisement, that they fail to represent their constituents or arrive at the truth behind what is laughably called "news". Likewise he is totally correct to point out that the lobbying of MPs for new laws, taxes etc only results in yet more bureaucracy, thus increasing the number of vested interests and the opportunity for yet more patronage. Digressing slightly, the latest example of this is picked-up by nourishingobscurity who posts on the creation of a new police ICT company - a further opportunity to practise the art of self-aggrandisement and patronage.

Because of the breakdown in trust of those in positions of power, what insurance can the public have with the judicial inquiry that has been launched into the NoTW affair? What insurance does the public have that should any trail actually lead to the involvement of, for example, Cameron, Clegg or Ed Miliband that that trail will be followed? Having failed so miserably previously, what insurance does the public have that the police will, in fact, act as they should have done?

We have surely arrived at a situation where our democracy, politicians, law enforcement and media are no longer fit for purpose. The last general election resulted in we, the people, being bombarded with a endless calls for the need for "change". What has become obvious is that the "change" that our political elite called for did not involve them, or their ways.

Have we not arrived at a situation where, as the politicians seem unable to effect that change, we the people should do so?


Oldrightie said...

"Have we not arrived at a situation where, as the politicians seem unable to effect that change, we the people should do so?"

Too few educated people left too do it, WfW. Was that deliberate, I wonder?

john in cheshire said...

If only this matter; the hacking and illegal payments to police officers; were the straw that broke the camel's back. If only it was the matter that brought politicians, the press and the police to some form of justice. The effers are so powerful that I suspect even as I write this, they are busy colluding amongst themselves on how to limit the damage.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Or: Of course it was deliberate....!

jic: Too right they are colluding - have they ever stopped?

Stuart said...

What I find amazing is surely phone hacking must already be against the law. Yet my own MP George Young speaks on our local radio about how the press must be better regulated. The phone hacking by NOTW should be prosecuted under any such law and if that law does not exist should do. But why must the press be better regulated? But then my MP is a monley in a blue suit.

Edward Spalton said...

Grubby journalists behave in grubby ways - and that's news? Not really. The extent is surprising perhaps.

But they lied to Parliament!

"Journalists lie to politicians" is a reversal of the usual state of affairs. So I suppose it is news - a sort of "man bites dog" story.

From the BBC's disproportionate, wall-to-wall coverage, I am in no doubt that their aim is to stop a potential vigorous competitor in News who is outside the Guardianista orbit. Detestable as Murdoch may be, he's not as loathsome as the BBC because I don't think he doesn't make the po-faced pretence that his papers and media are

But it looks now as if they will see him off.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

S: As I said phone hacking is illegal - unless you happen to be the state!

ES: That the aim was to shut down a right-wing press before it even 'got off the ground' was never in doubt. The last thing our cozy media club want is a British version of Fox News!

TomTom said...

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 covers interception of communications..........Bribery Act 2010 covers Bribery.

HOWEVER, if it is the Police which is being bribed they might decline to gather evidence for the CPS.

This shows why the REAL change that is needed is to ELECT District Attorneys who can initiate Investigations and ORDER the Police to produce evidence.

The CPS is a joke and the Met is corrupt. It is time for a proper system of DAs based regionally with the Senior DA being elected.

TomTom said...

The last thing our cozy media club want is a British version of Fox News!.

That may be true, but if Murdoch were so keen it would have happened firstly by making FOX NEWS unencrypted in the UK to build an audience; and then by tightening up the dreadful Sky News which makes Al-Jazeera such an attractive alternative with serious discussion and professional presenters

Far too many SKY people are in bed with politicians and their accomplices - it is all too matey and a conspiracy against the public.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

TT: Good suggestion (should have thought of that!). If elected police commissioners are proposed then it makes sense to have an elected DA.

You second comment re SKY just underlines my post about political bias.

Edward Spalton said...

Why not dust off and modernise the ancient office of Sheriff as an elected one. The City of London already elects its own Sheriffs - a jealously guarded, symbolic privilege.

Then you could bring over Sheriff Arpaio from Arizona, who keeps getting re-elected although he must be in his Eighties by now. He could give some handy tips.

When told that the county would have to pay millions for a new jail, he refused and built a tented camp in the desert instead. When prisoners complained of heat and cold, he reminded them that better men, serving their country, were putting up with worse conditions.

If they didn't like prison, there was no need to volunteer to come back. He also introduced a women's chain gang. "We are an equal opportunity incarcerator," he said. He put a large neon sign outside his prison camp, saying "VACANCIES".

Just the sort of chap we need.

In fact, he is doing the job of SHeriff which our ancestors would have recognised.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

ES: Yup, that man is a legend in his won lifetime!

As a commentator said on another post, if we to have elected police commissioners, then why not an elected DA for each local authority area? Makes sense to me!