Friday, February 01, 2008

A corrosive indifference

Quite rightly, the media is focusing on the Derek Conway affair and, as more details emerge, it is becoming evident quite what a loathsome creature this man is, to say nothing of his family.

Such publicity will, inevitably, add to the general well of contempt in which we hold our elected members – but, as always, the media paints a highly distorted picture.

In The Daily Telegraph for instance, we see a story on rural schools, with the paper launching a campaign on the issue. Yet, its story is nothing more or less than a rehash of information delivered by Owen Paterson and his colleagues in their adjournment debate on 11 December, which the newspaper completely ignored.

And, to add insult to injury, the paper attributes the information to "figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats".

Therein lies the problem. When MPs go about their work in a diligent fashion – and many do – their efforts are largely ignored. When an MP goes off the rails, the media feeds off the soap opera and milks the story for all that it is worth. This cannot help but reinforce the impression in the minds of the public that our representatives are a load of wasters.

Where the greater danger lies, though, is that it lends credence to the siren cries for more and more of the decision-making in government to be taken out of the "political" arena. It should be vested in the safe hands of our dispassionate, Platonic guardians, those diligent officials who are only concerned with the public good.

That is the underlying ethos of the European Union and at the heart of many of the ills in modern society. Governance is far too important to be left to venal politicians. We can do a much better job, say the "colleagues".

This "anti-politics" miasma plays into the hands of those who would abolish democracy and is strengthened by the corrosive indifference of the media. It is falling into the trap set for them by the oh so plausible technocrats. If this process goes too far, we will not only see our rights and freedoms eroded before our very eyes, but we will see the public applauding that very process.

We are playing with fire.

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