Friday, August 28, 2009

Political footballs

One of the most frustrating – if not distressing – aspects of the defence debate is the way the issues are being over-simplified and used as political footballs, with the heavy emphasis on the cult of the personality.

The Sun is playing its usual dire games in this respect, picked up by that revered politician, John Redwood, who treats them with some approval.

What is distressing in this context is the willingness of so many to take what they read in the newspapers (and hear or watch on on the broadcast media) at face value. Our more sanguine readers will always assert that they never believe anything the media tells them, but a surprising number of people still slavishly follow the lines they are fed from this source.

Never more has this been so obvious than in the defence debate. The media would have us believe that the issues can be boiled down into the simple "Punch 'n' Judy" pastiche, where "wicked", idle and incompetent politicians are contrasted with "Our Brave Boys" and their upright, forthright and courageous leaders.

Life is never that simple, but the media would have it that way. But its simplistic approach does "Our Boys" no favours. We are dealing with complex problems here, and this playground approach to life-and-death matters confuses rather than illuminates the debate. The Sun says that "Our Boys" deserve better. Indeed they do - not least from the media.

More on Defence of the Realm.