And So It Goes…#623

Thank goodness that we live in a western democracy ; just think of all those people in countries where they don’t get to choose in free elections ! Enough of the irony already. Whilst not terribly eye-opening ,Stephen Glover’s piece gleaned from the Daily -We Supported Hitler’s Invasion of Austria-Mail of 9 April 2015, is at least honest and engaging.

” And so this campaign is the most synthetic we have ever experienced. Even the morning press conference held by party big-wigs, traditionally a staple of elections, has now been almost wholly shelved so that disconcerting questions coming out of the blue can be avoided. 

The main political parties prefer to stage contrived stunts away from London, the city in which most media people happen to live and work.

If Labour is the worst offender, that is almost certainly because of the legacy of Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson, both of whom were obsessed with control.

The main casualty is democracy – and the voter, who is constantly finagled and deceived

Labour’s current top spin doctor is Tom Baldwin, a former protege of Campbell’s and schooled by him in the dark arts.

Indeed, Alastair Campbell is himself playing a leading role in Labour’s media strategy during this election campaign.

A frequent ploy employed by Labour this time around — though it is not unknown for other parties to do the same — is to give news organisations notice of an event when it is already too late for them to cover it. On occasion, a newspaper considered unfriendly is simply banned.

Yesterday, Mr Miliband was up to his old tricks again. Newspaper journalists were not even told about his visit to the Sikh Gurdwara in Leamington.

The Labour Party insisted that it alone would be responsible for all filming, though Sky News has been able to obtain private footage of the event.

I’m afraid the Tories are at fault, too. Like Ed Miliband, David Cameron has offered voters gratuitous glimpses of his kitchens, and been happy to parade his children in an attempt to establish his credentials as a good family man.

It’s true that, in common with the Labour leader, he has submitted himself to an interview at the hands of an insanely ferocious Jeremy Paxman which generated much sound and fury but yielded no enlightenment whatsoever.

But for the most part, the Prime Minister has jetted around the country, performing in front of the party faithful and avoiding uncomfortable confrontations.

On Tuesday, he was photographed in Cornwall making an apparently impassioned speech against a backdrop of placard- carrying activists.

Those watching this event on television would have reasonably assumed that he was talking to a sizeable audience.

In fact, it took place in an otherwise deserted barn, though the news bulletins did not advise us of this fact. This was a largely phoney occasion.

Journalists on the campaign trail tell me that the Lib Dems are often the least averse to contact with the general public, possibly because they have less to lose.

Nick Clegg even found himself being heckled in Surbiton last week.

As for Ukip, they are less open and accommodating than one might expect, considering their position as outsiders.

Heavies intended to protect Nigel Farage (who has been attacked more than once) extend their suspicions to innocent journalists.

The Mail’s sketch-writer Quentin Letts was recently refused entry to a pub in Folkestone where Mr Farage was performing.

This newspaper’s readers were not allowed to know what the Ukip leader said at a public meeting.

Hasn’t something gone terribly wrong with our democracy when our political leaders surround themselves with carefully chosen loyalists, who sometimes intimidate or drown out journalists, and attempt to rig their media coverage on their own terms?

And isn’t it pretty disgraceful that politicians should so often be allowed to collude with broadcasting organisations — whose main priority is an appealing photograph and a simple sound bite — to evade the difficult issues inevitably raised by print journalists?

Much as I respect my colleagues in broadcasting, the truth is that the rudest red-top tabloid will usually dig far, far deeper, and ask many more searching questions, than a superficial two-minute slot on television news.

I don’t complain on behalf of newspapers. Even if we are deliberately excluded, resourceful journalists will do their best to find a way of reporting an event, and to reveal how staged it is.

No, the main casualty is democracy — and the voter, who is constantly finagled and deceived.

I suspect most people instinctively sense that politicians are being evasive, even if they are unaware just how artificial the election process has become.

Is it any wonder that the political class is held in such low esteem?

The tragedy, of course, is that, with the future of our country at stake, and with such monumental issues to debate, so many millions of voters are simply uninterested or just plain bored as a result of our politicians’ refusal to engage. “

Almost ,but not quite a hardline Marxist critique.



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