Wednesday 20 July 2011


The public exposure of the cosy links between News International, the police and politicians is very important and we must hope that when the present furore subsides laws will be passed to place a maximum on the amount of the British media owned by one institution, to ensure that owners pay their appropriate taxes in Britain and that meetings between influential persons at a high level are open and properly logged. The first two are easy, the third admittedly a bit tricky, but if they are tackled our democracy will emerge much the healthier.

And that's it. Do we really need all the current fuss, day after day on the pages of our newspapers, dotting every "i" and crossing every "t", and hour after our on radio and television? It's something we've all known about for years, it's good that the issues have come out into the open and that the boil can be lanced, and a little bit of dancing on the News International corps is perhaps understandable, but we must retain a sense of proportion. How many have died as a result of it, compared with the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and are dying at this moment in Somalia? Is it really more important for our Prime Minister to return from Africa to deal with this "little local difficulty" rather than to support our aid efforts in that sad continent?

The great danger is that our chattering classes, when the drama fades and the circus moves on, will kick the issues into the long grass and nothing much will change. I firmly hope that the apparent alliance between Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and the rehabilitated St Vincent de Cable will stick this one out to a successful conclusion.

However, we must remember that even if we achieve what we've learned to call "media plurality" that doesn't mean we shall have a balanced press. The Daily Mail and Express will continue to pour out their anti-immigrant, anti-Europe, anti-feminine anti- welfare, anti most things decent poisons and people will continue to buy them. This is one area where consumers still call the tunes.

The parties themselves need to abandon feeding the media with confrontational sound-bites and concentrate on patiently expounding their alternative policies. That's an essential part of the "new politics" we were promised.

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