Sunday, 10 July 2011

Exactly why 'Politics' does not work, presently

In arguing the above, this post contains a number of links, links that do really need to be read in order to understand the problem we have in our nation.  I refer to Janet Daley in today's Sunday Telegraph; James Gray on Conservative Home Comment; Politics Home with links to the Times (£); a post on Max Farquar; the editorial in today's Sunday Telegraph; and finally, a news article about power being granted to parishes, again from today's Sunday Telegraph.

Janet Daley actually hits the nail on the head with two phrases in her comment piece; namely that (a) British political journalism is basically a club to which both journalists and politicians belong and (b) that when politics is run as a club it is so much easier for both journalists and politicians to escape challenge or genuine scrutiny. In confirmation of my assertion that too much of what passes for journalism is, in fact, a cut & paste exercise, Daley reveals that there are journalists who telephone politicians and take 'dictation', then faithfully reproducing that as 'news' - a damning revelation indeed and one that I think it appears could be laid at the door of a few journalists who have authored the op-ed piece in the Daily & Sunday Telegraph.

In his Comment article on Conservative Home James Gray does make a valid point that election to Parliament is a full-time position and that those who are not prepared to make sacrifices in their personal life have no business becoming an MP. That point just demonstrates the stupidity of attempting to recruit women as MPs - and in stating that I am in no way being chauvanistic, but merely stating a fact. What most people fail to understand is that in our lives it is necessary to make choices and that those choices cannot always encapsulate compromises. Unlike men, women have two choices in life; the choice of whether to have a career or to have children - and please do note the difference twixt a 'career' and a 'job'. Gray, in my opinion, makes another important assertion that it is this 'equality' wish that has led to the present ineffectiveness of Parliament. Unfortunately, as is usually the case with the majority of our politicians, Gray completely omits the cure to the problems we have - something to which I will return later.

The editorial in the Sunday Telegraph wails that the News of The World scandal must not be allowed to destroy our free press - which promptly begs the question: Free? Leaving to one side the unacceptable relationship of politician and journalist, consider the relationship between journalist and newspaper proprietor. Perhaps newspaper proprietors should be apolitical if they wish to own and run an information system? It is because that this is not the case becomes the reason for calls in the blogosphere that Murdoch should be allowed control of BskyB in order that we in this country can enjoy a British version of Fox News. If there was a totally 'free press' partisan newspapers would not exist, in which case there would be more 'investigative' journalism as besides reporting on events, is that not what journalism is supposed to be about - acting as another restraint on an unacceptable use of political power?

Politics Home links to a Times (£) article dealing with the fact that MPs have earned £5million in 'outside earnings' since the last general election. This raises yet other questions, such as conflicts of interest between that which MPs are presently supposed to do and responsibilities to those outside Parliament in return for the payment received. It is also, in my view, incompatible for MPs to hold any commercial position including controlling interests. To quote a previously used example, consider Tim Yeo who advocates environmentalism in various ways; who is Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, yet who holds positions at the head of four companies in the environmental field.

The content of the article reporting the devolving of power to parishes is a tad ironic in a newspaper whose editorial wails about the potential loss of a free press. Returning to Daley's point about journalists taking dictation - ahem, this article could well have been written by Eric Pickles. What confirms the point about the lack of proper journalism is that Tessa Jowell is allowed to make a statement, one that appears at the end of the article, without any comment whatsoever. Why as Jowell not asked where as the accountability and response to local service users; where was the accountability for the way in which public money was spent; and where was the strengthening of community bonds and family life under her governments proposals?

Lastly, 'Earwig' on Max Farquar posts on what he/she considers to be remedial steps that are necessary to return our nation to a democracy, with views that some may consider extreme but with which the majority I, too, agree. It is as a result of the political process and the resultant lack of journalistic accountability that such views as those expressed by Earwig are now being voiced. Needless to say, most of what is proposed cannot be carried out whilst this nation remains a member of the European Union, but that is a separate subject. As for attempting to wreck the European Union by acting as a cancer from within - has that not been shown to be totally impracticable and unachievable by the "In Europe but not run by Europe" mantra of Hague & Cameron? One can only counter that aspect of the post by remarking: "Erewigo", etc etc.......

That there is a 'disconnect' twixt politicians and the electorate, one caused by the political elite believing that once elected they have 'carte blanche', is exhibited in all its glory by an article written, presumably, by John Redwood which appears on the Express website. Besides making the faux claim that this Conservative Party is more rebellious than those of previous Conservative administrations, Redwood goes on to complain that whilst Liberal Democrats were consulted on formation of the Coalition, he and his fellow Conservatives were not. Err, pardon me Mr. Redwood, but neither were the British people and it is our voice that should decide matters, not the cosy club of which he is a member. James Gray makes a similar assumption in his article in that he presumes the present system of democracy is one that should continue. Showing a complete lack of understanding to the problems about which Gray pontificates, one commenter (Elaine Gray) presents a solution involving yet more cost and more bureaucracy - to which I can only say: Ye Gods!

The fact that our democracy and political system requires change is surely beyond doubt and must be obvious even to the non-polically interested within our society. How this is achieved is the subject of much debate with various methods from outright revolution by the people to "change from within" being suggested. Whilst I have been guilty of suggesting the former which includes immediate and permanent retribution of those who have been responsible for our present woes, I do acknowledge the dangers such an approach has - however, if change from within is not possible then I see no alternative.

Actually there may well be a more peaceful way in which change can be affected and it involves no violence whatsoever. It amazes me that the one party with whose views the public appears to be increasingly resonating, namely Ukip, does not adopt a more practical approach. It bemoans, rightly, the fact that the media does not, with the conivance of the Lib/Lab/Con, provide a fair platform for its views. Instead of spending money on not-so-eye-catching stunts such as parading a coffin around the exterior of the EU parliament (or wherever it was), perhaps a programme of producing a series of non-partisan, non-political, but factual news sheets to every household in the land? How about reproducing the cost/benefit analysis prepared by Gerard Batten for the Bruges Group? How about submitting their manifesto to every household in the land, the only mention of the EU being at the bottom saying that none of the policies being suggested can be implemented whilst we remain a member of the EU? How about repeating my challenge to name six aspects of our daily lives which are not subject to state interference?

To nick a phrase from CallingEngland, just my version of a "Sunday Reflection"...........

9 comments:

john in cheshire said...

I think UKIP needs a video clip, that goes viral on Youtube. Something to catch the imagination of the younger generations of voters.

PeterCharles said...

The main difficulty we have re the MSM is that non-partisan ownership is well nigh impossible. Most people own national newspapers in order to have political influence. Even if they did not start out as such the lure of 'power' through influence soon overtakes them, even if they are like the Sun at the adult comic end of the spectrum

Bashing politicians of all parties does not win friends and influence, it might make them responsive to your prejudices out of fear if your newspaper is successful and in such a case you would very soon be courted, feted and generally enticed, if not suborned, into one set of political arms or another.

Your suggestions for UKIP are very good, they wouldn't work, but they are in the right direction. To have any hope of success the party must shed its one policy image, Britain out, and its very name and it needs to improve its activists, currently they resemble 1960s Liberals, I remember them well, earnest, knowledgeable, geeky, not quite with it and obliviously preaching to an empty church. It does need to promote its small government credentials and it does need to get its policies into the political open.

That requires money, oodles of it, and it also needs either a Fleet Street backer to promote its voice and/or a large team of media activists writing letters, offering opinion pieces, critiquing whatever is the political claptrap of the day, maybe even something really radical like its own dedicated free to view TV station, Classic FM can do it so it isn't impossible, who knows what? Obviously I don't, all I know is that with average adult attention spans now being something like seven minutes if you want your message to be considered it has to be there, or somewhere, hung out like a flag everyday.

Their greatest difficulty, of course, would be in actually convincing people you can have small government and welfarism, there is no doubt we as a country, like the rest of Europe, are addicted to it. Short of a truly serious emergency like another European war, the eruption of Katla reducing northern hemisphere food production by half or the arrival of the anticipated economic SuperCrunch, we will not as a nation lose that addiction. I happen to believe it is affordable, although many would lose out because welfare today is simply ridiculously over-generous and over provided, but it would take a lot of persuasion for omnibus man to believe it.

It is interesting, is it not, that two of those nightmare scenarios are almost certain to occur within our remaining lifetimes? In fact, indications are that they may well occur simultaneously, or should that be concomitantly. One government can do nothing but react to, having left it too late to make suitable provision for disaster of that scale, the other they are simply too frightened of potential consequences to even consider it might happen let alone prepare for or try to mitigate it.

BJ said...

"perhaps a programme of producing a series of non-partisan, non-political, but factual news sheets to every household in the land"

Well said WfW - I have been ranting on about this on various forums for years.

A good example is the EUrofacts website - simple pdfs with simple facts on expenses and the effects of regulation.

Luckily my Mac laptop can save any newspaper article in pdf format - I regularly print these off and show to workmates.

UKIP's videos only reach a selected already converted few - we really do exist in a very small bubble

WitteringsfromWitney said...

jic: possibly, but then some of NF's have had more than a fair share of publicity to no immediate effect.

PC: Actually, I don't see why we cannot have non-partisan media, after all their job is to report fairly on what is said and done - nothing more, nothing less. Likewise, I believe it wrong that politicians should be allowed to write article for money in the press - their forum for airing their views is in Parliament, or in leaflets at election time.

Why would my idea not work? Has it been tried? No. Your idea of a free internet/free to air tv is a good one. I do believe that Ukip waste money on stunts as I said in the post and that it could be put to better use. If people don't know exactly what you stand for, is it any surprise if you then don't get the support?

BJ: Agreed re the small bubble - but try tellling that to the heirachy of Ukip! At conference after conference I have tried to talk to 'people' but with no effect - heads nod, but nothing happens!

WitteringsfromWitney said...

jic: possibly, but then some of NF's have had more than a fair share of publicity to no immediate effect.

PC: Actually, I don't see why we cannot have non-partisan media, after all their job is to report fairly on what is said and done - nothing more, nothing less. Likewise, I believe it wrong that politicians should be allowed to write article for money in the press - their forum for airing their views is in Parliament, or in leaflets at election time.

Why would my idea not work? Has it been tried? No. Your idea of a free internet/free to air tv is a good one. I do believe that Ukip waste money on stunts as I said in the post and that it could be put to better use. If people don't know exactly what you stand for, is it any surprise if you then don't get the support?

BJ: Agreed re the small bubble - but try tellling that to the heirachy of Ukip! At conference after conference I have tried to talk to 'people' but with no effect - heads nod, but nothing happens!

PeterCharles said...

Actually, I don't see why we cannot have non-partisan media, after all their job is to report fairly on what is said and done - nothing more, nothing less.

There is no reason why we shouldn't have, indeed the BBC insists that is exactly what it is, they may even believe it. My point was I doubt there is anyone with sufficient altruism and financial resources to do it and that even if there were they would soon be suborned by one political party or another.

Likewise, I believe it wrong that politicians should be allowed to write article for money in the press - their forum for airing their views is in Parliament, or in leaflets at election time. I agree 100% they should not be in any way able to profit from the position or their politics.

Why would my idea not work? Has it been tried? No. Your idea of a free internet/free to air tv is a good one. I do believe that Ukip waste money on stunts as I said in the post and that it could be put to better use. If people don't know exactly what you stand for, is it any surprise if you then don't get the support? I apologise for being so dismissive, it was at best rude. Free newsletters are in fact a good idea, but the point I should have made is that they must be regular and ongoing, a one off leaflet would be just another passing blip, out of memory for most before it even reached the recycle bin.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PC: Fair point in para 1 of your comment.

No need to apologise, although I am disappointed that you failed to pick up on the fact I said "a programme of" and never intimated that a one-off was all that was necessary...... :)

thespecialone said...

Here is one ex-Tory party member who has not renewed his membership and has now joined UKIP. I really will be doing my best to get the message out there. People are gradually getting the message, despite the constant pro-EU agenda of the BBC and other MSM, that the EU is bad for Britain. It also needs some 'captains of industry' to come out and say it too. UKIP needs to have more people at the top who the public can like. Farage does a reasonable job in my opinion but can anybody in the High Street name one other high-profile UKIP leader/member?

WitteringsfromWitney said...

tso: Welcome! And in answer to your question - no and therein lies Ukip's problem. They are doing just what Cameron did in May last year - failing to score when presented with an open goal.

Lets hope you don't get disillusioned and go elsewhere.......