On the fourth moon of Planet London, no one can hear us scream.

The incestuous media-government relationship is making democracy pointless and hypocritical

‘S&P cut Spanish debt from BBB+ to BBB-, one level above junk status, and warned of possible further downgrades,’ wrote the BBC website late last night. This is the same S&P (just in case you thought there might be more than one) which was up until six weeks ago confirming quite good ratings for places like Catalonia and Galicia, so I’ve no idea what to make of this…but of course, the markets will.

One thing that puzzles me though is, if you’re only one level above junk and then drop two levels during further downgrades, what are you then? Subjunk? Anyway, it’s all getting rather tense down in Iberia. It’s a subjunctive tense haha.

One of the Beeb’s more insightful comments was ‘Government austerity measures have proved deeply unpopular with the Spanish people’. I suppose they would really. The Spanish Inquisition proved deeply unpopular with those having their height increased on the rack. Angela Merkel proved to be deeply unpopular in Greece.

But it’s the sort of banal thing the BBC says – and they’re not alone. After reading a laudatory review of Dave Cameo’s speech in the Daily Telegraph yesterday, I added a brief comment to the effect that you can’t keep saying one thing while doing another. I went back to the thread later, and my not very insightful remark had received 23 approvals. This suggests that ordinary people don’t feel laudatory about the Prime Minister at all: if anything, they feel accusatory. It’s a tough life being a tory.

The media are, on the whole, completely out of touch. There – I’ve said it. It’s not a new thought, but it is in the sense that I mean it. Here in the Blogosmear, one tends to read ‘Nothing’s real in the MSM any more, it’s all bollocks’ and so forth, but that always has a kind of conspiratorial cover-up accusation within it. I don’t think there’s any conspiracy in this at all: it’s the entirely predictable result of spending one’s life going to supper among the chatterati in London. In such places, attendees debate subtle shifts of political stance, whether Carluccio’s is as good as it used to be, and the changing levels of M3 money. Outside this opaquely domed theme park, the M3 is the thing that gets you to the A303, and thence to the relative sanity of real life.

It is the quite false assumption of those who write for mainstream media that they are ahead of the game, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Earlier this morning, a news agency noted that the IMF’s resident cliche  Christine Lagarde was warning, ‘the global economic recovery is getting weaker…The fund has also cut its global growth forecast amid the ongoing crisis’. As a news item, there are two problems with this report. First, it shouldn’t be there at all: anyone who thinks anything Lagarde says is of significance needs to go back to the factory for a brain rebore. And second, it isn’t news for real people. Real people have known we’re heading for disaster since around 2003.

It’s an odd phrase in the contemporary context, ‘out of touch’. It used to mean wandering about in the African bush, rowing the Atlantic, or landing on the far side of the Moon. But now (forgetting the last one) you can get mobile reception in almost any remote place. Today, out of touch means not out of reach but out of sync. David Cameron is out of sync, as is everyone working for the Brussels Commission, sitting in the US Congress, or appearing in Eastenders. But the media spend their lives beyond the supper party interviewing these people, and so their sense of reality becomes even more warped. This takes them from being out of touch to beyond help.

Tony Hill has a column in the Telegraph this morning asserting that ‘Opera-loving George Osborne is in tune with the times’ because he likes Wagner and used to be taken to Bayreuth when he was a kid. Most people in the UK think Wagner was a classy lager you never see these days: they’ve no idea where Bayreuth is, that Hitler was a regular there, and that Wagner’s daughter was an ardent Nazi. Even those who do know these things could never afford the tickets in a month of Sundays. George Osborne isn’t in tune with the times: he’s in tune with The Times, because Rupert Murdoch owns it and, if given enough TV stations to buy, he’ll carry on saying positive things about an economic situation that is perfectly obviously beyond repair.

The Blogosphere itself is also hugely atypical compared to Dean Kray and his Significant Other, S’manfa. A vast section of our planet is off with the fairies and waiting for Elvis to emerge from hiding, arm in arm with Lord Lucan. But the difference here is that (thank goodness) they have no power at all beyond the ability to delude themselves. By having a great deal of power to report about the powerful – but not to provide real feedback to them – the MSM are in danger of destroying liberal democracy.

The democratic system has many flaws: the majority is almost always wrong, Party organisations shut out new competitors, universal suffrage is a daft idea, and politicians become obsessively vote-centric. Its big advantage over other systems has always been the ability of citizens to speak freely, create new ideas, and express discontent – and for the political class to notice that dissent before it’s too late.

Not only does our current political crop of cabbages shut itself off behind armies of minders and obscene security defences (as in the Palace of Westminster) it also pays almost exclusive attention to the views of media hacks. This unconscious auto-sealant quickly removes the only real advantage democracy has. The result is riots in our major cities.

The internet has, at times, made this worse, oddly enough. The majority of politicians don’t have websites to listen, they use them to transmit without fear of contradiction. John Redwood (himself a great transmitter) is an exception in that he does note what comment threaders say. When you meet him, it shows. The same is true of Frank Field, Kate Hoey and Bob Stewart. But these are the exceptions. Significantly, all of them are back-benchers.

This is one of the many reasons I’d like ‘government’ in Britain to be decentralised, brought back to a scale where citizens can be heard, and local media revived from its currently dire state to be the voice of the community, rather than the dissembling of nine local estate agents. But it isn’t going to happen – for dozens of reasons.

So all an humble blogger can do is warn of the danger, and hope those warnings add up to some kind of beginning. Now I must be off, I have to interview Herman Van Rompuy in an hour.

Have a good day.

68 thoughts on “On the fourth moon of Planet London, no one can hear us scream.

  1. Much agreed John, as someone who is much interested in the political process and in a better time before central office would have probably become involved I feel very depressed to say what is the point. This nation has entered the twilight zone of cleptocracy where the ptb get away with murder and nobody cares or has the power to change anything.

    • You could stand at the election if you have the money,it might only be £500 but for many it might has well be $50m,on a anti-corruption ticket
      you have my vote

      • Problem with standing as a candidate is not in a large part the money. The fact that most people have limited communication means and those available discount everyone publicly who does not conform to the ‘electable party machines’. Even for instance a growing party like UKIP cannot get fair and reasonable coverage even when they are regularly polling higher than the ‘accepted third place’ party. the best they can get is a 2 minute slot being interviewed in a tongue in cheek fashion on a local news station. this means that it is much harder than it should be for new ‘parties’ or even popular independant candidates to have any showing at all.
        The bubble exists and those blowing it like it that way. It gives them the comfort and illusion that they are in control. They are wrong however, the people still remain in control, it just takes a long time for them to wake up and wrest it back. Bread and circuses can keep the lid on things only so long as the people have enough bread to keep them interested in the circuses.

      • Yep but £500 is a lot of money, but even more than that we are all working our arses off trying to make a decent living and a little on top to have the time and energy to campaign

  2. The MSM are businesses and it’s easier and cheaper to produce news items made from recycled press releases and official statements than doing investigating journalism. Thus the importance of the internet and blogs like this one.

  3. Exactly,the distance of the elitist cultists from us plebs has produced tension,even dear plod reckons they are in for a hard time!

  4. ‘But now (forgetting the last one) you can get mobile reception in almost any remote place.’

    It is quite remarkable. Spoke with my daughter yesterday in Shimla in the foothills of the Himalayas. Clear as a bell, like the air there, and only cost 1p minute using Lycamobile. I remember when a call to the US had to be booked and was £12 in old money, that would be about £200 today, for 3 minutes.

  5. “universal suffrage is a daft idea”. I’ve often thought this and then thought that I must have a dictatorial mind-set. Could you, perhaps, elaborate on this matter. I wonder whether we should have some sort of exam or IQ test before being allowed to vote.

    • Oh dear God. Where to begin… Firstly, to bring up an archetype, have neither you nor our esteemed host Mr Ward never encountered an academic genius without the sense to know right from wrong? For exampe, the people who brought us eugenics and race purity theories, Communism, Marxism, Socialism, Fascism, all totally bonkers – yet with high IQ academics, very ‘smart’ people, foursquare behind them complete with their own complex theologies and philosophies. E.g. Eric Hobsbawm – Stalin killing 10, 20, 30 million ordinary people was regrettable but justified because he was creating paradise on Earth – yeah, he can have a vote ‘cos he passes an IQ test. Conversely, have you never encountered the rough ready comparatively uneducated manual worker who may not be able to parse a Latin sentence or understand Wittgenstein, yet has street smarts, a sense of right or wrong and an ability to judge character? Better not let him vote, eh? He only empties the bins.

      One of the main complaints of the many commenters on this blog is that the powers that be, the EU apparatchiks, the establishment, the MSM – “them” – think themselves superior to the rest of mankind and therefore entitled to carry on regardless doing what they like irrespective of the views of the lumpen masses. Yet you exhibit the same narcissistic tendency. ‘They are wrong and stupid. I am smart. Those wrong and stupid people shouldn’t have the vote. I should though because I am better than they are.’

      There is wisdom in crowds. Our problem is that there is not enough democratic accountability; you and Mr Ward appear to think there is too much. “Universal suffrage is a daft idea” – you should be ashamed of yourselves.

      • Marvelous summary of many salient factors.

        I’m not as familiar with UK suffrage issues as I’d like to be, but by appeal to analogy can say that here in the USA, for one thing, the ‘party system’ is not even mentioned in the US Constitution. More to the point by far if you will excuse that last fact which has become here but a means of low rhetoric, the party system as we know it here originated in large part from obscenely corrupt 19th century Urban accommodations. These were not entirely bad actually in the sociological sense , but one thing that nearly everyone agrees (including very prominent criminologists) emerged from these contexts, or was implicit in them, was the complete and utter disenfranchisement of the electorate. Just a quick brush up on how these parties emerged and took hold of things is something I’d highly recommend to any Slogger.

        To go into the very unexpected (to the average voter) ramifications of this system as now in the US would not only possibly get me into trouble, but be too sad a tale to tell anyway.

  6. @Angie Jardine. Main Stream Media. I too am a newbie having only recently realized that my once loved BBC has been captured by Duckies and prats.

  7. Pingback: John Ward – On The Fourth Moon Of Planet London, No One Can Hear Us Scream – 11 October 2012 | Lucas 2012 Infos

  8. At a Conservative conference fringe meeting (the only sort worth going to), one of the platform mentioned that the membership of the Conservative party had fallen from over 2 million to less than 200,000 in the last thirty years. So the “grass roots”, to which everybody pays homage, have largely withered away. A while ago, somebody said that there were 30,000 paid electoral offices in the country. If that is true, a very high proportion of the party membership is made up of paid office holders and those aspiring to become one – plus the usual hangers on – researchers, assistants, political nominees to Quangos, people angling for PFI contracts and so on – and, of course, their friends and relations who may also overlap the above categories.

    The decline in Labour party membership is not dissimilar.

    Without the media and the politicians incestuously working together to create news, there is no story for the media to sell. The parties are now mere marketing brands and the approved candidates are holders of the franchise. They stand for nothing but their leaderships’ common sense of entitlement to office under the wider protection of the EU – an institution which also detests “populism” (i.e. democracy)

    I am astonished at how long the brand loyalty has been maintained in spite of this reality. But then, I was astonished at how long people were willing to put themselves into unrepayable debt to sustain the housing bubble. So I’m obviously missing something.

      • Absolutely! They had to put those who would have been on the platform in the audience and extend the platform to cover half the room, so that the lack of people at this years ‘Conservative’ conference was less obvious. When I was a member, in the years when we could not lose and election, there was a ballot for tickets in our association. And the voters have gone the same way. We LOATH socialism even if it is coloured blue!

    • The total curruption of the Scottish Labour Party of the last 50 years or so is a lesson worth investigating. The paid councillors has led to the emascualtion of free debate within the party ans the termianl decline of its membership.

    • Regarding your last paragraph, a couple of quotes that may be applicable:

      “The crisis takes a much longer time coming than you think and then it happens much faster than you would have thought.” — Rudiger Dornbusch

      “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.” — Douglas Hofstadter

    • @ E.Spalton. The answer is probably in the soil, or more likely, the Tele. While that littleblack box/large flat screen keeps churning out its fantasies, people don’t realise/don’t want to think about unpleasant things like how the parties that used to represent them, or so they thought, have degenerated.

  9. Democracy is just public relations. ‘Reality’ is for the masses. The elite will continue to have the wealth and power. Naturally they will continue to be mainly concerned about each other. As the ‘dumbing down’ proceeds there will be fewer people who notice, or care, or pay attention to blogs such as these, even if they are allowed.

      • good point mate. could really be the tipping point unless they get a freeview box to watch ‘strictly’ and ‘corrie’.

        I have a vain hope that the EU will ban them and premier league football, then the shit will really hit the fan. We’d be out of the EU before you could herman van rumpy pumpy is a retired samurai……[well his haircut supports the theory]

    • @ODINSRAVEN
      I disagree. I think that dumbing people down makes them far less open to reasoning which they cannot comprehend and will make the end game much less easy to get control over once things kick off. People become more savage when the ability to reason (or at least, reason with them) has been removed.
      And it is from the ‘base of society’ that change will emerge, not the thinking, reasoning classes. There are thinking, reasoning people amongst those ‘base of society’ groups, but it will take time for them to emerge and bring some decency back to behavioral standards. A long time.
      Look at the extremely ‘base’ behaviour of many of the rioters the other summer………..those are the people from where the changes will begin but with good ‘reason’. Starvation and homelessness is a great incentive to seek something more, especially when you see the fools forcing you out on the streets to starve, still throwing champagne parties with their ill gotten gains.
      Already the powers have forgotten that the police struggled to control London, they became stretched as the riots spread to a few other places in a very small way. Imagine if it was 10 cities in the same riotous density as London was ‘attacked’ ? Spreading to 10 more. It’s a numbers game as I keep saying. The more violent the authorities become in their desperation to regain control, the more violent will become the ‘starving’ masses. Be in no doubt that those ‘sitting pretty’ with savings and jobs will not be so pretty a bit down the line. This is going to be REAL BAD !

      There are (still) fixes to be had, but none of those with the authority will take the initiative and do what has to be done. I hope this changes but I cannot see it, purely because those in ‘power’ are content with the corruption which benefits themselves alongside those with whom they like to associate and later hopefully join. Thus they will not do anything to upset ‘their mates’.

      • …and then the Cameroid will have to use the armed forces to regain control. ….and then will there will be a UN resolution condemning the use of force on the rebels?
        …. and then we get armed and then we get dangerous [mostly to our own feet admittedly]

      • This is exactly what has happened here in Athens. The Golden Dawn neo-Nazis have infiltrated the police, some estimate up to 80%. The police have enlarged their roving motorcycle arm DIAS, in which 5 or more riding together, with relatively little to do, harrass any person(s) they deem ‘suspicious’, throw them to the ground, search and handcuff, book & charge. They are released the next day in court – usually but not always – however the charge is not expunged, thereby providing a ‘record’.

        DIAS has become the dream job of young teenagers who leave school early – 600€ a month, benefits, state protection, a powerful motorcycle, and more or less unlimited power.

        The government has let GD set the agenda on immigrants, and uses the police and by extension Golden Dawn to keep public order. Water cannon, tear gas, aluminium clubs and rubber bullets are automatically employed against crowds. Meanwhile, (apart from attacking the pakistanis et al) students, gays, teenagers, poor foreigners and anyone who resists them, verbally or physically, no matter what age, is attacked with impunity.

        There are countless videos of attacks by GD, with the police standing around not interfering, letting it happen. These are also on the news, and still nothing happens.

        The police and Golden Dawn, meanwhile, refuse to touch the murderous Albanian, Russian and Roumanian mafias responsible for 80% of serious crime. It is totally ‘hands off’.

        This state of affairs is beginning to reach a critical level, affecting the middle and ‘upper middle’ classes too, and most Athenians admit now to being scared. It is clear we are being intimidated.

        ————–

        At the same time ERT [national] TV has suddenly bought 7 old BEEB serials, Upstairs Downstairs, Downton Abbey 1, the Forsytes and others, to fill the evening viewing 3 nights a week. Apart from there being no budget for new shows here, it is a way to keep people home & glued to their sets.

        The great thing about Greece though is that it consists of highlands and islands (1200) and the police cannot be everywhere. They can control the cities but not much else.

  10. When it comes to government, one thing is certain and beyond doubt: small (and accountable) is beautiful. I grow increasingly convinced that, at some point, we are going to have to front this lot out – hopefully with the power of argument and lawful rebellion – and thereby reestablish the connections which provide accountability but which have been allowed to atrophy. Sites like this are an important resource for spreading the word, cutting through the ordure and encouraging more people to reflect on our situation. There may be many conspiracies but what we have now is surely one great big cock up.

    • Problem is – they will not accept the (lawful) concept of ‘lawful rebellion’ and will illegally use the state to crush those trying to get change through lawful means.
      Government by consent is no longer accepted by government. Government by force is all they know. And they will use it for as long as they can get away with it.

      Most thinking people (me included) would like a peaceful settlement between government and the governed but the government machinery has bedded itself in and has turned its face against the people. I cannot see people trying through law, in a lawless state, getting anywhere………..I hope I am wrong.

      • they have turned their face from the people because of their solid gold pensions. hell the last thing the civil service manadarins want is change of any kind and it is the civil service that runs the country -only policies that they like get implemented properly everything else manages to self destruct over time along with something embarrassing leaked.

  11. ‘One thing that puzzles me though is, if you’re only one level above junk and then drop two levels during further downgrades, what are you then? Subjunk?’.

    More like ‘Sunk’.

  12. The problem with the MSM is that their localised cousins have copied their style and now even the stories we know of personally are distorted so far out of recognition that our belief in the written word is now suspended. Trying to get unbiased press coverage is something of a miracle these days.

    Wagner……don’t they make paint sprayers and wasn’t Bayreuth a rounders player or something in the New World?

  13. I agree utterly regarding the media.
    Even if the toristas and the labunists were not doing it the media polarises things beyond north and south to the extent that there can be no compromise without switching sides [as far as they're concerned].
    This is of course total tosh.

    Neither left or right has the monopoly on stupidity or good ideas. It’s just that they are not allowed to swerve from one side to the other without being accused of either plagiarism or dithering.

    It’s a bag of crap really and I think there has to be a Mt St Helens to clear the air and get back to ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ and that sad event will mark a turning point in our nation.

  14. I have grown to realise this

    “politicians do listen you know”. Then from what you have said the words politicians use imply they must have listened.

    Politicians don’t want that though so they go off and do what they want.

    Hence Democracy is really an illusion under these circumstances and the only thing you are likely to feel in the end is betrayal.

    Once found out they look for the first people to blame, normally it is the poor or those on benefits because as they would tell you they made all the policies that got us here.

    Like hell they did, they do not set policy, forced to live by the policies set by the politicians.

    The truth is we are in the position we are in by the politicians carrying out policies they want, their palms greased with backhanders and favours.

    All at it, wether it be wannabees or incumbents makes no difference.

  15. I thought Wagner was a contestant on the X factor a few years back. You know, the Brazilian who had hung out with lions in his youth and couldn’t sing. Its amazing what you can learn from the Telegraph.

    I found Peter Oborne’s book ‘The Triumph of the Political Class’ very illuminating. That only makes the junk he turns out in the paper even more disappointing, apparently basing his assumption that Camoron is a good guy on the fact that he once thanked the ladies who made the tea at a cricket match.

    I agree with much of this article. The MSM did the same with Dave’s speech as it had done with Miliband’s the previous week – mistake a decent piece of oratory for a programme of action. We need genuine local democracy, more independent MPs or at least independently-minded MPs and controls on political financing that force parties back into recruiting mass memberships. Then perhaps the political leadership will have to start taking notice of their parties and eventually perhaps even of the electorate.

    I fear that we will first see another financial crisis, bank closures and rioting on the streets, perhaps because the electorate of another North European country pull the plug on the Eurozone.

    • I know Peter O slightly, and I couldn’t agree more: his Torygraph column is awful. But his C4 Dispatches stuff is brilliant, and his demolition of the Brussels w**ker last year was historic.
      He’s much better live…and with a few drinks under the belt.

  16. I did wonder who lagardes remarks were intended for.

    If she’s talking to the rest of us then there’s only 2 groups:

    1) those who already know we’re in the middle of a plunge towards hell (fiscally speaking). As you said john, we’ve known for some time.

    2) those who are too dim to care. They also don’t care what she’s saying.

    So who is she talking to? Or is she just mouthing off to justify her existence?

    • Yes, very much so… and she’s not the only one doing it. I’m beginning to feel irresistibly drawn to the group in 2) above and Neil Innes’ immortal song: How Sweet To Be An Idiot. I shall fight it with everything I possess – without leverage of course.

    • But absolutely spot on in everything it says.
      True and sad.

      But not unique to Greece – with the ‘glue’ stripped away, the social & historical fault lines will start showing in every country that comes under this amount of pressure, . Already in Spain the problem of Catalunya….

      As for greek kleptocracy, in which our pathetic local variant lies exposed to view, I’ve seen with my own eyes, having lived in 7 EU countries, that gov’t/crony kleptocracy is now the norm. With Brussels topping the list, since it has the largest diplomatic representation in the world [to Belgium, to the EU, to Nato], it is the HQ location of every international corporation doing business in Europe, and has poppy fields of lobbyists stretching out into infinity…

  17. John one idea that you touched on at the start of your article was QE and I think we need to prepare ourselves for a bad idea taken to its logical conclusion. The proponents of this idea, which enriches the rich, and screws the rest of us cannot see a problem therefore we should prepare for a super stupid jump to extremist measures like one trillion pounds of Quantitative Easing in one go.

    If you are going to be really, really idiotic then going that extra mile for a bad idea that does not work is obviously the answer. This will happen when Spain goes titz up.

  18. I think the press are deliberately playing dumb, John, to be honest. Peter Oborne (and many others in the Mail and the Telegraph) are just stringing along their readership, knowing full well that Cameron is never going to change, ‘act’, get a grip, whatever they want to call it. These journalists don’t actually want anything to change anyway, because they are part of the same Conservative establishment. Harry Mount’s paen to Boris Johnson the other day sounded as though Johnson himself had written it – and the sad thing is I wouldn’t be surprised if he he had.
    The political journalists at the Mail and Telegraph probably realise they are writing sycophantic garbage but they also probably have mortgages to pay. So they toe the line, rubbish Ukip, rubbish the BBC, rubbish anyone who gets in the way of their owners who want to keep playing Labour off against the Tories the way it’s always been.
    Thank goodness for the internet and Twitter and Facebook so that these people’s lies and half-truths can be exposed.

      • Was it ever?

        Maybe it’s always been a façade. People who believe themselves free seem to be much more productive than serfs.

      • @SmacA
        Once upon a time people enetered government in the true belief that they were doing something for their country and even when misguided, there were enough others to oppose their misguided thinking.
        These days one can be in absolutely no doubt that the vast majority are in it for the benefits which they can accomplish for themselves, their friends and their families. Even the party machinery has been corrupted to enable those with ‘authority’ to impose their ‘chosen ones’ on the electorate over and above those members who should be making the local representative selection.
        It is mainly those at the top of all political organisations who have corrupted the system. Once again we see how those at the top of these organisations use their positions to infuence their own interests over those of the ‘lower orders’.
        We need complete change in the structure and maintenance of Government ensuring it can never be a career and never be enriching to those embarking onto the political ship. The current ‘party structures’ will never change what they have grown between them, thus we need a new vision with the determination to hand power back to the people and remove it from the ‘power brokers’ of political organisations.

      • I should add that even in our democratic infancy, the ‘rump parliament’ was terminated because they were not fit for government for the same reasons those who in the present day (are not fit to inhabit Westminster) need to be got rid of.

  19. Wagner – actually his music is better than it sounds.

    How wish I could claim this as an original. But Mark Twain got there first

  20. So we are all about to see tested, what is cracked up to be the most robust constitutional system in the world?
    The worrying thing is that the MSM are just so far adrift from intelligent opinion…….is the BBC so far up its own a*$ that its journos actually believe that its opinions still have credibility?
    The BBC actually is one of the most conservative influences, and always the first to protect the cosy 2 party tradition…….
    actually theres no space in the 21st century for any country to have to drag around a dead weight like bbc…….constitutional inertia is the last thing we need
    The government of the day has a duty to avoid any sort of insurrection…..not for its own re election chances but just for the benefit of the country……unfortunately it seems that such a concept would not even be understood much less acted upon….

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