We deserve what we get
The public wants what the public gets/But I want nothing this society's got
Going Underground, Paul Weller The Jam
MacMillan didn't quite say, "Events, dear boy, events." Wilson did say, "A week is a long time in politics." And Brown said, for advocates of snappy aphorisms that catch the moment, "Get real."
In the last few years, though, the two wings have been fighting a war that (latterly over expenses) has been lost by the politicians. It is ironic — more than ironic, actually, in its gorgeous boomerang arc — that having duffed up the main parties and ignored the Lib Dems, the press has now found itself confronted with a resurgent party that owes it nothing.
We deserve what we get. For years we have dismissed the Lib Dems as they had “no chance” of power. We’ve laughed in our meetings when forced to discuss the pronouncements of their leaders, and then, furrow-browed, examined with microscopic precision the minor doings of the big two. We have ignored the growing gap between votes and outcome.
Putting the 'we' in 'weasel' is our man David Aaronovitch. ('Wings' rather bizarrely refers to Dave's idea that there are but two estates of any importance in the modern pursuit of power: parliament and the media. Apparently the media won.) I think it's revealing that Dave thinks the press "duffed up the main parties" as if this was laying siege to the castle of its ancient enemy rather than, to borrow from Orwell, being "like a windowpane". The press barely had a role: the heavy lifting was done by the Freedom of Information Act.
Surely our man reads the Guardian, especially when it covers politics and the press. David Yelland on his former paper (and, of course, the Times' stablemate).
I remember in my first year asking if we staffed the Liberal Democrat conference. I was interested because as a student I'd been a founder member of the SDP. I was told we did not. We did not send a single reporter for fear of encouraging them.
Both versions can't be right. Don't forget Dave's employer's recent record of, er, straight reporting. (This is simply splendid.) It's not just the political parties that the electorate is fed up with. And speaking of the Guardian, I wonder if Dave's seen this:
Via Dave Hill. DA's calling it a "Labour-held three way marginal" before it became a "surefire Lib Dem gain" seems to be a bit loose with the facts.
Update: straight after posting: I may have misunderstood Dave's opening sentence. Here it is: On Thursday night of last week, after the first leaders’ debate I went to bed in a Labour-held three way marginal. He could be referring to the whole country, rather than his own constituency, but who considered that the 2010 was three-way until the debate last week? However I try to interpret that sentence, it seems historically wrong.
Update 2 17:44 Friday 23 April. Craig Murray on What The Public Really Think.
"Craig Murray" has been displaced for the first time ever as the most used recent search to bring people to this site. The most used search this morning is "Debate sky bias", And that is only those who used that precise search - there are 78 searches relating to Sky or Murdoch bias in the most recent 100 searches that brought people here.
Also see Marina Hyde on Sky leaders' debate spin room: the live abortion of democracy.
Since Dave mentioned expenses, I'd like to note that anger wasn't limited to the scribbling classes. I heard someone say last night, "I was appalled by the behaviour of some MPs and no punishment is too great for them." No punishment? I think Europe has strong views about boiling in oil, Gordon. (I'm sure the Prime Minister made an understandable slip: he meant the Tory peer rather than the three Labour MPs "due in court over expenses".) Up there with "We deserve what we get" IMO. Dave, you and the rest of Murdoch's minions will never get what you deserve. It's not the illegality so much as I don't know where to get hold of Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons. (I think I've totally outgeeked myself there. Story not available online according to Google. If you've read it, it's not easily forgotten.)
Update 3 18:15 Friday 23 April That was a tad harsh. After all, I follow some Times writers on Twitter, certainly Giles Coren and Ruth Gledhill. And there are some Times writers I actually like: I'll come out and say that I think both AA Gill and Jeremy Clarkson can write (I don't value their opinions, however, and am not bothered if I miss them), and... I'm sure there are others. But Murdoch is poisonous. Here's another link Dave Weigel on 'New Left Media' (aka unfunded students):
"It is our belief, and to us it is superficially evident, that the Tea Party movement, purported to be disparate grassroots organizations of people who all woke up one morning with the same ideas about government and the Obama administration, is the public manifestation of the narratives pushed by Fox News -- narratives that are good for television ratings, but bad for political discourse, policy, and even the Republican Party. David Frum might agree."
And what does New Left Media think of the competition?
"CNN, like Fox News and MSNBC, should be largely dismissed as serious sources of news," said Whiteside, "as these outlets are all in the market of selling journalism through personalities, talking haircuts who report as much on what each other are saying as they do on reality. We could gather similarly substance-less interviews from people whose primary news source is Ed Schultz, but until those people gather with misspelled signs to protest policies they don't understand, we have no reason to."
The sooner the paywalls go up, Murdoch loses a few millions, and News International's influence on British politics is limited to a few flat-earth Climate Change deniers, the better.
Update 4 21:10 This should be the last one, but Johann Hari really is very good.