Thursday, 14 July 2011

Physician, heal thyself

Yesterday in the House of Commons there occurred an event for which all politicians should hang their heads in shame – and of which the Hansard report can be read here. It was an aberration of all that for which the House of Commons and politicians supposedly stand. What was presented to the public was the unedifying sight of politician after politician pontificating on principles that they are only too keen to “cherry-pick” as and when it suits them. The media does not escape criticism either because of the manner in which that event was reported.

Politicians queued to vilify what was termed frankly disgraceful accusations of widespread law breaking by sections of the media, alleged corruption by some police officers and the failure of a political system, the latter in which they have played an active part.

We witnessed Gordon Brown making a rare appearance, only his second it is believed since May 2010, in a legislative chamber to which he was elected to attend in order that he might represent his constituents. When he appeared it was not to voice the concerns of his constituents, but to rant about his own perceived ill-treatment by some sections of the media. He said that in their behaviour towards those without a voice of their own, News International had descended from the gutter to the sewer and that the tragedy is that they let the rats out of the sewer.

Prior to Brown we were informed by Ed Miliband that Rupert Murdoch had been forced to bend to the will of Parliament; that today Parliament had shown an ability to speak without fear or favour; that the House and Members of all parties had given voice to the people and that the country wanted its voice to be heard. He also said that the will of the public was clear and that now Britain’s most powerful media owner had to bend to that will.

Not to be left out of this orgy of criticism Sir George Young then informed us that Parliament could not only reflect the public’s mood but be a champion for its causes. He maintained that as with the expenses scandal, the right approach was to a reach a political agreement on the right way forward and that he feels that we are fortunate to have a House of Commons that is independent of Government.

What I find unedifying – and I feel sure that I am not alone – is the sight of politicians applying principles as and when it suits them. Did not MPs descend from the gutter to the sewer when attempts were made by them to stop the publication of their expense details?­­­­ Why has Parliament not given voice to the people on the question of this nation’s membership of the European Union, especially when it is obvious that that is what the people want? If media owners have to bend to the will of Parliament and thus the people, should not Parliament bend to the will of the people? If, as we are continually informed, no-one is above the law, just who are these politicians who consider themselves above the people whose elected servants they are? It is important, for the avoidance of doubt, to stress the word servants! The passion that these self-opinionated, so-called, politicians have exhibited, supposedly to echo the disgust felt by the people, ranks as the height of hypocrisy.

To now turn to the subject of our media, Steven Glover writing in the Mail questions why the media as a whole should be led into the dock at the expense of the few rogue elements within. We have a leader in the Daily Telegraph with the heading "Politicians are playing an unedifying game", a statement that is undoubtedly true. However, whilst making the case that it was investigative journalism by the Guardian that exposed the present scandal and that it was politicians who were in thrall to News International, it is a pity the newspaper does not also admit that journalists were also in thrall of the politicians - the latter omission showing yet another example of hypocrisy. As I have maintained previously it has been impossible to distinguish in whose pocket was who, where the relationship of politician and journalist was - and still is - concerned.

Politicians continually preach to us about our nation's morals and the principle that we must be seen to be beyond reproach in our dealings not only amongst ourselves but also with the world at large. I can but refer them to the heading of this post!


The Gray Monk said...

As a Bishop friend once remarked to me - When politicians begin to speak of morals and principles, wise men seek the bomb shelters.

I share your repugnance of the most venal attacking the equally venal on a "point of principle."

Time Traveller said...

Really, really good piece WfW. The spectacle of our politicians sticking the boot into a down and out Murdoch was the theatre of the school playground. It beggars belief that they could spare the time given the disasters engulfing us.

Just as unedifying was Hugh Orde threatening Murdoch today. Another playground bully emboldened by the mob.

Disgusting - all of them.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

TGM: Thank you

TT: Thank you too for your kind comment.

PeterCharles said...

It is rather a waste of time to accuse politicians of hypocrisy, it is central to the life of any politician and most journalists come to that, especially the tabloids.

The art of politics lies in misdirection, obfuscation, hidden meaning, economy with the truth, vacillation, mutual back scratching and stabbing, expanding personal influence while trying to weaken that of others. It is one art that cannot be practised without hypocrisy at the forefront.

This debate is also rare opportunity for politicians, something that they all can agree on, something no one is likely to dare challenge or criticise them on, something neither they nor their party leaders really care about and it grants the opportunity to do something they love but are rarely able to do, spout arrant rubbish at great length and dripping with crocodile tears while standing on the moral high ground.

The gutter press simply did what the gutter press does and in so doing it broke the law. The police and politicians did their best to ignore it, very possibly because they were in also in some way breaking the law or acting under duress.

The failure here is not a failure of the media, it is a failure of the political class and the police, both pandering to publicity, which may have led some officers into criminal activity and both of which are desperately trying to distance themselves from fallout. This is the central and most important part of the affair which is in great danger of getting lost.

It isn't the media so much as it is politicians and the police that require regulation.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PC: It is not a waste of time to accuse politicians of hypocrasy - not at all. The fact they exhibit all the characteristics you list is not denied, but the fact they are is all the more reason to accuse them.

I never said the press need regulating and I agree it is the police and politicians that do need said regulation. What I do accuse the media of - and is a failure on their part - is not reporting that which they should, not questioning what they are told by politicians and for being in thrall to the politicians, which clouded their judgement.

PeterCharles said...

Ah, I see I can't do sarcasm after all.

I also know you did not say the press should be regulated, I was referring to the politicians saying it :-)

But never mind all that, another thought has come to me, one I haven't seen brought up elsewhere as yet. If the rest of the Murdoch UK media survives who will it support politically? I wonder if the polies (slang for politicians) have thought about that while slagging Murdoch and all his works off?

Perhaps they think he won't survive in the UK at all, hence today's speculation that he could sell or close down his other titles and run. Well, he might be frogmarched out but I doubt he will cut and run. So what happens if The Sun et al are still there next year when all the furore has died down and been forgotten and the brands have lost their toxicity? Who will he be supporting? I doubt very much it will be Con, Lab or Lib, nor EDL or BNP and certainly not the Greens. Who does that leave, I wonder.

And even if he were to quit the scene there will doubtless be some other paper on the scene, to lose three main titles would leave too big a hole not to be filled I reckon.

Perhaps there is a chance for UKIP to get a media mouthpiece after all.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PC: You raise a fair point.

Personally I don't believe Murdoch will cut and run - the Sun sells too well and the Times is I believe too big a brand that he would wish to lose it. In any event I think that scenario has been dreamed up by those with too much time on their hands, or possibly looking for a new 'angle' on this story.

I concur that the polies - no explanation for that slang word needed by the way :)- have probably cut off their nose to spite their face (or whatever the phrase is) thus demonstrating that with this, as with most things, they have not thought it through...

As to who he might support - interesting suggestion, indeed. One can only hope that, were that to happen, Farage has sufficient savvy not to get suckered in - but we are talking about another politician here - and there is always the point that any provider of something is always looking for something in return - or else the Second Coming has actually happened.

It is possible that we may get some idea of Murdoch's future intentions come the hearing at the DCMS hearings?

Interesting times ahead, methinks?

john in cheshire said...

The three Ps turning on each other. However, the most repulsive of them all are the politicians; they are like a pack of hyenas ripping apart a weakened quarry. If there is ever any justice in the world (which, cynically, I doubt exists) I hope that most if not all the press, politicians and police get what they really deserve. They disgust me, all of them.

PeterCharles said...

There are a lot of rumours the Times is up for sale, indeed has been for some time. Circulation is down to about 440 - 450,000 averaging around a 13% year on year decline. In 2005 circulation was just under 700,000 as a comparison.

The deterioration started when it changed to tabloid form and too many opinion pieces were deemed biased toward Murdoch interests, or so they say.

Paywalling the on-line edition was hoped to encourage people to take out print subscriptions but it didn't work, even worse, hits to the website dropped from 21 million per month to around 2.5 million now, nearly a 90% fall.

It is not alone, of course only the Mail (is there a spitting smiley, sorry emoticon, anywhere?) is increasing its circulation.

So, national treasure, rather besmirched, or not, who knows?

To JinC, I heartily agree!

WitteringsfromWitney said...

jic: I can but echo P and say agreed - tenfold!

PC: Yes I have seen those rumours. owever I feel Murdoch will hang on t his UK newspaper empire. Can't recall who, but one commenter somewhere asked the question 'what if' (of which there are numerous) and this 'what if' was suppose Murdoch did hang on - come the next GE which party would he support? Methinks that before then there might be a tad of 'score-settling'?