The Leveson Report – Reading between the criticisms

With the publishing of the Leveson Report on Thursday, after seemingly 237 years in the making, those instantly critical or dubious of the conclusions have come out of the woodwork faster than Gary Barlow on a slip-n-slide.

1. With the earnestness of a nun at the Vatican, all of the leading newspaper and TV organisations have dutifully focused on the importance of the report and its wide ranging implications for the future of the press, but no one has really taken a step back and questioned the place of newspapers in our society. With circulation diminishing year on year, it feels like regulating on a new type of stable door after the horse has bolted. There is seemingly little forethought as to how newspapers will operate in a world full of iPads and the Mail Online; if more newspapers reduce their publishing frequency or become a digital only entity, like Newsweek, then the difference between a regulated media outlet and one that is not, will be rather stark and absurd.

Lord Leveson

Lord Leveson with his magic report

2. The new Ofcom style regulatory body that will be established (Ofpap anyone?) will herald the first press law since the 17th Century, and the Conservatives don’t like it. Their main reason for ‘hating on’ Leveson is the ‘mission creep’ fear that politicians today have about their counterparts in the future. Apparently they are creating a vehicle for the future government control of the press, which in turn raises many interlinked points:

  • A ‘vehicle’ that can alter the future sounds like a time machine – is that where George Osborne has been hiding whilst it is being built?
  • When is this expected government takeover of the press likely to take place, as we can keep a look out for it?
  • Do politicians really distrust the future iterations of themselves that much? Though saying that, I suppose they know the wants and desires of politicians better than us mere mortals. Maybe we should take their warning with a greater seriousness than we have so far.

3. The reaction of most of the newspapers is of collective shock at how their industry has been slandered by Leveson. But lest we forget the ‘last chance saloon’ of the 1990s, and to be able to drink in such a salubrious establishment there must have been one or two other bars they were thrown out of because of raucous behaviour. Newspapers are a public entity with a moral duty to upload to society, and that was destroyed with phone hacking, profit maximising, politician entrancing behaviour.

4. People bought the papers out of their own free will. So surely we, the people should accept some share of the blame

There isn’t a magic elixir to solve the ills of press behaviour whilst maintaining the ideal amount of freedom, and I think it is time that that fact was acknowledged a bit more by those in power. Much like a teenager that has misbehaved once too often, the press will have to be grounded until it has learnt it’s lesson and only then will it be allowed to go out by itself again, but hopefully with more wisdom and greater responsibility.

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Downing Street Fighter

The newly installed leader of the Labour Party has issued an ultimatum ahead of the next General Election: that their politicians will be more ‘human’. Gone are ‘the living embodiments of dull. The Minster-Bot 3000s. The grey, soulless, vacant and examples of Parliamentarians that have been inflicted upon the country for too long.’

‘Re-selection for a seat will now be based on a Hit Point system,’ said Tom Jenkins, who sprung from nowhere to take over as Leader of the Opposition after Ed Miliband stood aside due to being stuck in a state of permanent incredulity one day at Prime Minister’s Questions. Jenkins, who studied Computer Games Design, said that MPs were rewarded for good deeds within their constituency, well thought out verbal displays (in interviews, local council or Parliament) and advancing general Labour Party aims.

A bunch of..

Conversely, any evidence of the type of behaviour that would have been permitted under the ‘Old Regime’ causes a deduction in the ‘life’ of an MP. Mr Jenkins says that this can include a deduction per evasive answer (one point for every piece of business speak), or petty politicking.

‘We want to return to a more representative politics, one where MPs actually appear to be in touch with the people they are meant to be elected by. This is rewarding solid, hard-working politicians, those that are standing up for their community’s interests, whilst punishing those who only seek to slither their way through Westminster like the Basilisk through Hogwarts. No longer do we want to see the kind of Punch and Judy debates that have blighted Parliament. We aren’t seven any more; they’re not fun.’

Jeremy Paxman, foil of so many aspiring politicians had mixed feelings about the move, ‘whilst this is obviously beneficial to the link between the electorate and the elected, it makes my job nearly redundant. Ever since the much recognised nadir in 2013, politicians have fought hard to regain the trust of the public; an effort that died before it was even born as they continued to stand around saying how much they were listening to the public.’

Of course, this was best shown during the Night of the Long Whines when Transport Secretary, Justine Greening (‘barely a human’ said Paxman) made one of her campaign staff change his name from Ed to George in order to ‘refocus the message’.

‘That would have been a knock out blow in this new system’, said Jenkins, ‘and quite rightly too. We want a new type of politician, ones that are unfamiliar with the language of the past.’

A Conservative Party spokesperson that ‘this is another gimmicky Labour proposal that misses the point. The public don’t want accountability; they want strong figures, ones that are willing to make tough decisions in these precarious economic times. In wasting time over this, it highlights Labour aren’t up to the job.’

‘Sigh’, said Mr Jenkins.

Social Well-Fair

My goodness, how I would love to be in the upper class. From their lofty perch, their perspective on society is so crystal clear it never fails to astound me. Now just filter that through the purifying elixer of Government and you can see just how much we need the current Conservative rulers.

The latest example of twenty-twenty policy making is the posited removal of housing benefits for under-25s in their next manifesto. Of course, the people receiving this benefit are just scroungers who need to be taught the value of work. Thank God for David Cameron’s vision, here I was thinking that people were receiving the benefit because they were in low paying work. Little did I realise that everyone is a little aristocrat waiting to break free. In homes all around the country, you can find people sat slovenly on their piles of pounds; using gold ingots as chopping boards and dressing in sheets of stirling. Disgusting. 

Alternatively, they aren’t. I would love Davey C to have to explain the cut personally, to all those claiming it. After being shat on by the lack of a decent pension; the declining job prospects; the rise in tuition fees amongst many other terrible streams of excrement, Dave is now wanting to cut another lifeline to those in need; those who require that little help to make it through the month. And whilst there are some people relying a bit too heavily on benefits, it does seem as if Cameron is tarring all those claiming it with the same brush.

But moving beyond the ‘moral’ point, his justification for the cut is that it costs £2 billion. Only a person devoid of any human emotion/decency/facial expressions would see cost as the only barrier. If you thought that California had it bad with the Terminator, we may have actual robots in the Cabinet now.

To counter this, all Labour need to do is focus on those that need the money – some simple life stories (don’t get Ed involved (either of them) as his persona makes people uncomfortable) to overturn the Government’s narrative, and then paint the policy as a Cameron-Special. Done successfully, Cameron will appear out of touch (surprising…) and uncaring. 

This type of policy seems endemic of a political culture bereft of either a decent idea or a thought to probable outcomes. Policies do not seem to have any thought put in to them but are instead farted out on the fly, hence the chasmic gap between us and them.

Of course when I am rich and flying above you ants in a platinum helicopter, I may be able to spend a moment thinking about your mortal concerns.

Noses to the Grindstone

Dear old Phillip Hammond, a man whose face is the very picture of despair, has said that he does not support the Government’s push for gay marriage, as it has to focus “on the things that matter to the people in this country”.

This oft trotted out bit of tripe allows me to imagine all MPs and Civil Servants working their damnedest in a forge, or foundry, sleeves rolled up (as they mean business), ‘trying to save the economy’. And it’s obviously wrong for two reasons: the first is that the thought of MPs doing practical work is enough to put the majority of people in a cold sweat. But secondly, whilst everyone in Government is working to better the country, it is fatuous to suggest there is a ‘national aim’ and everything outside that is trivial.

With the UK LGBT population estimated at 750,000, this policy will affect over 1% of citizens in Britain. So Long Face Hammond, this seems like an awfully large number of people to still be ‘not a priority’. What about those 10,000 millionaires you made richer, was that deemed important enough to warrant Government time? Was that that a good use of legislative powers? Government doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) rule for the majority. These ‘people’ he mysteriously refers to are not beacons of social change, more like Conservative stick-in-the-muds reluctant to agree to any change. The point of Government is to transcend this group of people not kow-tow to them.

At least other Conservatives have had the bravery to say they don’t support gay marriage; I don’t agree with them but they have the courage of their convictions. It is this pathetic ‘public service’ mantra that really marks out a wimp; too scared of being controversial, but also not wanting to get on the wrong side of the Daily Mail.

So come on out Phillip. Don’t be your usual uninspiring self, myself and the faceless ‘people’ want to see what you’re made of. Time for you to get us out of recession, single-handidly. That’s what the people want.

Leicester South – Part 1

The race for Leicester South is hotting up with, at present, five candidates contesting the Parliamentary seat. So far I have yet to hear a peep from them, which is odd as you usually can hear a politician coming a mile off, so possibly they are under the impression that the student vote is one that isn’t worth winning.

Having a trawl around their respective websites (though for the BNP candidate all I found was a photo of a rudimentary cave painting with a chalk stick figure and an arrow pointing to it saying “good” – though that basically is their whole manifesto. They actually give them out on slabs of granite, which helpfully transforms into a weapon for when they feel like clubbing immigrants) it pains me to say that the Conservatives have put up a good show. It is ‘branded’ very well, not amateurish in the least, constantly updated and linked very well to Twitter. Just goes to show that Lord Ashcroft has spent his money rather well.

The Tory candidate, Ross Grant has grabbed the bull by the horns and wrestled the digital behemoth to the floor and is the only candidate running who is using the power of social networking to show their human side. A tweet a day takes about 20 seconds to do, spend 2 minutes a day doing it and it really is time well spent. Granted this election will not reach the dizzying New Media heights as the 2008 US election but we really should be further ahead than this.

But searching through his website, you begin to understand that he cut from the same old Tory cloth (the once expensive material that has been patched up to appear new). He opposes Trade Unions, possibly because of the smell they leave when he meets them, or because the Conservative Party don’t care about the working class. As much as they try to hide behind the inclusive banner when it comes down to real social change they run to the hills of privatisation in search of a cure. To stand against Trade Unions is a clear-cut sign of where your priorities lay, as TUs are for the workers who exist because time after time ordinary people have been silenced by the very people who back the Tories: tax dodging aristocrats.

Mr Grant also doesn’t know what to say about climate change. In his world, scientists should no longer publish papers for fear of getting drawn into a debate surrounding their findings. No scientist will say that what they have found represents cold, hard 100% pure fact, instead they say science is the quest for knowledge and regarding climate change the knowledge seems to be pointing in one clear direction. Why should one group of people cease and desist talking about their evidence (of which there is a lot) purely because some people disagree? To use another example, say the Holocaust; the vast majority of people are aware that this horrible event existed, yet because there are a few that don’t (*cough* BNP *cough*), does that mean we should forget about it? This is an illogical position and one that leaves those with the evidence held at ransom by those acting with special interests.

But again credit to Ross Grant as at least he is making an effort via new media to reach out to people. I’ll do another one of these once more information from other candidates comes my way.

Budget Boredom Busters

By all intents and purposes today’s Budget was quite dull. Realistically it had to be, with Britain’s debt halfway up to its left elbow and growing at a shattering £450 million per day (that is a Lib Dem figure, they might have made it up to appear relevent) there could be no handouts and due to Labour’s plans, there would be no major cuts either.

So with that in mind, I thought there must be a few ways of making the Budget more interesting:

1) Don’t watch it – you can get a precis of it from the news. Lazy yes, but come on, it is a soporifically dull process.

2) If the entire ‘scandal’ of Government Ministers (is scandal the collective term for them?) had to deliver one word of the speech each. Knowing Mr Brown, he would mess it up somehow, bless.

3)  If the monetary figures he was talking about was brought into Parliament in the form of pennies, I’m sure it would help somehow:

Darling: And the deficit has been revised downwards to £168 million. Watch out……Lib Dem leader, whassiface, errrrrrmm, you know the guy that speaks after Cameron. He’s going to get crushed…..errrr……………ah, too late”

4) If it had to rhyme.

Darling: As I was saying about the quantitative easing,

The results in the end were really quite pleasing

To that end the deficit will be reduced,

Which will be good in the election, we have deduced

(I’m the next Byron)

5) If the Chancellor had to read the Budget whilst cooking,  ironmongery, farriering , construction a mottle and daub house. I honestly think people would be much more receptive to a politician who proves themselves adept at performing some more hands on task.

It could be argued that the introduction of any of these would coincide with the crumbling bedrock of our entire political system but it’s already started making its way up shit creek. With the implosion of the true Labour movement, leaving only its bitter and twisted husk; the smarmy circling of the Conservatives who don’t know how to present themselves so as to appear all things to all people, without revealing that they in fact haven’t changed and still hate everyone with only one surname and the Lib Dems to are getting closer to becoming electable, but still seem mildly surprised that they are allowed to speak at times, which is a real shame as they do have good ideas, but again, they don’t know who they’re appealing to. I for one, cannot wait until the election, as it promises to be bland followed by beige, followed by Brown.