George Eustice, seemingly one of the few people who has ever defected from UKIP to the Tories and the PM’s former Press Secretary, has upped his war against the media. The man who wants the state to regulate/gag hacks now says that journalists should trust politicians more and he’s coming for the broadcasters:
“The truth is that no democracy can work without political parties, making their case, having robust arguments with one another. The current broadcasting rules meant that broadcasters had too much power. That has led to, I think, an over-emphasis on process, on political strategy, rather than actually giving politicians the credit for doing what they do do most of the time, which is to say what it is that they actually believe.”
If politicians didn’t spend so much time committing horrendous process foul-ups, let alone failing to devise any coherent political strategy whatsoever, perhaps the press would not be so scathing. Political parties have their own websites from which to broadcast in unedited form. As Eustice’s own colleague Douglas Carswell put it last night: “The law should be changed to allow political parties to communicate directly with voters? Really?! Try blogging or twitter instead…” If the Tories want more airtime on their own terms then they should deregulate political advertising on TV…
Apologies for the first few minutes of the feed, gets going about ten minutes in:
How ironic that at a hearing about privacy and free speech, only the chairman decides what can and cannot be said about a certain Tom Watson…
Lord Oakeshott, through a proxy, said in the House of Lords earlier:
“Would [the speaker] accept that every taxpayer has a direct public interest in the events leading up to the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland? So how can it be right for a superinjunction to hide the alleged relationship between Sir Fred Goodwin and a senior colleague? If true it would be a serious breach of corporate governance and not even the Financial Services Authority would know about it.”
In March Guido told you about it, but had to adhere slightly to the courts. Sorry if you couldn’t quite work it out:
“So there was this ****** bloke who worked closely with another ****** colleague, they apparently began an adulterous affair not long after the ****ing crisis of 2008. He went to Court to stop it getting out that he had been banging her. Because he is the most notorious ****** of his generation he also banned references to his profession lest he be identified.”
Well that went well for Fred didn’t it? Worth every penny…
The role of a court jester was subtler than you might think, he made fun of the king and his courtiers in such a way as to often tell truths which could not be said directly. A strong king did not fear the role of the jester, knowing it was a safety valve for dissent and an indirect source of intelligence that would be otherwise difficult to convey to his face. A wise king who was lucky enough to have a clever court jester could learn much from how the court reacted to his japes and court observers could learn from how the king reacted more than might otherwise have been known.
Only a king too weak or too arrogant would find a jester insufferable. Jesters strengthened kingdoms.
It seems to Guido that today the rich and the powerful are too arrogant and perhaps too afraid of the media, much as weak kings feared the jester, they fear an unfettered free press.
In an age of moral relativism the court of public opinion is so often the only one we have in which to judge public figures. The politician who disports himself naked in parliament – like Nigel Griffiths did – may feel no shame, his wife may be blameless, his party may stay silent, but should he really be able to hide his foolishness from the voters? Should he be able to go to the Courts to protect his privacy after literally cavorting with his lover in the public offices of parliament? He won an injunction to stop a free press reporting the full truth about him to his voters. That seems to Guido to be dangerous to our freedom and to the exercise of informed choice in a democracy.
Celebrities who use their wholesome image to endorse products similarly protect their commercial value using the Court to cover up their sordid reality.
Celebrities, soap stars and footballers go to Courts of Law to avoid being judged by the court of public opinion. If they succeed they escape censure and society is worse off in two ways; public figures get away with behaviour which society rightly disdains and they still manage to project a false self-image without the truth being exposed to the society they deceive. Secondly there will exist in society those who know the truth about public figures – mainly people in the media, politics and the law – and those who are kept ignorant like Roman plebeians. That can’t be right.
Fear of widespread humiliation and popular opprobrium are two social restraints on the tendency of flawed humans to succumb to their baser instincts. It is an unfortunate fact that many of the characteristics which drive men to power are the same that make them scoundrels. If society wants those who rise to fame and fortune to behave less scandalously, society should keep the justified fear of exposure by a free press as a restraint. Muzzle the press by protecting the privacy of public figures and public life will be even more dominated by unreported scoundrels.
As the anger grows over Andrew Marr’s audacity at paying to hide his own public interest story, while being paid to probe the lives of the rest of the political class, Guido thought he would gauge opinion:
Don’t forget we pay him £600,000 a year for the pleasure. No wonder he could afford the luxury of an injunction and to support a child that wasn’t even his.
Remember this one from January 2008. The shock and horror was quite a sight to see:
With Andrew Marr currently topping the Twitter trends in the UK, that well known Yes2AV campaigner with a superinunction must have shaky hands today while they are stuffing envelopes.