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A sense of collective insanity

Posted by Richard Monday, May 17, 2004

Stephen Robinson, in an op-ed in the Daily Telegraph makes some hard-hitting points this morning. Reviewing the antics of the media over the weekend, he observes that, "There is a sort of madness in the air in that clammy Westminster microclimate where the twin trades of politics and journalism eat, drink, and think together".

True, it is a bit over the top in implying that journalists and politicians actually think, but the drift of what he is writing is spot on. Commenting on the Iraqi situation, the intervention of Cook, who popped up… "as he does almost every Sunday when news is slow" and the Prescott speculation on the fate of Blair, he adds, "to complete the sense of collective insanity, sections of the media spent the weekend mourning the demise of Piers Morgan…".

That, dear readers, is a good a description of the state of the Fourth Estate as you are going to get. But the consequences are profound. While the media is indulging in its orgy of introspective gossip, the world goes on and, in Brussels – almost invisible to these intellectual pygmies – twenty-five foreign ministers are gathering, their collective endeavours aims at selling this and the other twenty-four nations of the EU down the river.

And not one of the witless hacks who have spewed out their torrent of nonsense over the weekend has any clear idea of what is going on.

Robinson, however, makes another point. After the apparent failure of Blair’s love-fest with Washington over Iraq, he asks how long it will be before the clever-dicks (although he does not use this phrase) turn on the alliance, arguing that it has been such a disaster that "siding with ‘Europe’ is the obvious answer". And the Conservatives, he predicts, will be as clueless over how to respond to that argument as they are in offering alternatives to the mistakes now being made in Iraq.

On that, given the inability of Ancram’s office to respond intelligently – or at all - to the torrent of treaty amendments from the Irish presidency – one can only sadly agree. As well as collective insanity, there is a strong whiff of incompetence coming from Central Office. We are in for a rough time.