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.