I don’t really have too much to add on the Leveson inquiry that others haven’t already said. However, two things linked to the report did seem vaguely…amusing. One highlights the lie to the claim that the “blogosphere” is really greatly different to the mainstream press, the other the extent to which politicians employ contradictory arguments to defend their interests.
One of the problems with our modern unrepresentative democracy is that it is disconnected from the voters. Despite focus groups, polling and intense marketing to voters, politicians are still unable to engage successfully with voters.
There are a number of issues where the political class refuses to carry out the wishes of the people. All polls show that there is majority support for capital punishment, yet there is no majority for it in parliament.
Good old Guido Fawkes speaking up for the death penalty on the grounds that the politicians have been ignoring the will of the people. You’d kind of expect that, given his desire to ensure that parliament is more representative of the people, he’d be backing the demands of Hacked Off given that nearly 80% of those polled “favour legislation to create an independent press regulator“. A quick glance through his blog suggests not. Indeed, I asked him about this and got the following (laughable) response:
— Guido Fawkes (@GuidoFawkes) November 28, 2012
Click the link and what poll is Guido so keen to direct me towards? A poll that suggests people think it isn’t a priority. Well, case closed on that then! Of course, whether it is a priority or not as no bearing on whether people actually want it. It’s not top of my priorities, but I still would like some statutory regulation applied. I should imagine bringing back the death penalty is not in the top ten priorities for the general public. Indeed, the most recent poll ranks crime quite low which suggests that the death penalty is quite low. But that didn’t stop Paul Staines launching a petition and arguing that the public were demanding it. So great were the demands that, despite his high profile online, Staines’ petition only garnered a laughable 26,351 signatures (in six months). The Hacked Off campaign, on the other hand, has managed 76,616 at the time of writing this (in a couple of days!). ‘Nuff said. Staines may want you to believe that “new media” is radical and different from the mainstream. The truth is, there’s barely any difference.
The other thing that seems weird is the position of the government regarding the legislation proposed by Leveson. Take William Hague’s response:
Hague told cabinet ministers that if the so-called “Leveson law” were to be introduced, countries such as Russia, which Britain condemned for imprisoning the punk band Pussy Riot, would “throw it back in our faces”.
Then consider his words on prisoners being given the vote:
“We have to consider the implications for the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister made his views very clear and I agree absolutely with the Prime Minister [that prisoners should not have the right to vote]. The United Kingdom government will have to consider how to proceed.”
Which would rather indicate that Hague does not accept that if the UK fails to abide by the European Court of Human Rights, it would set a poor example to the world. Which all rather begs the question: does our behaviour influence that of the rest of the world or not? According to the British government, yes if it suits our agenda, no if it doesn’t.
Leveson’s report may not have the impact that many desire, but it has certainly highlighted the hypocrisy of the establishment. Again.