Saturday, 16 June 2007

Blair on the media

Tony Blair delivered a lecture the other day criticising the media, likening the media to ' a feral beast' that was 'obsessed with impact'. Tony's insightful words of wisdom can be read in full here, if we trust Mr Blair it is just an honest 'argument' and nothing to do with him trying to get the last word in before he bows down at long last. He does admit some undeniable home truths though:

'We paid inordinate attention in the early days of New Labour to courting, assuaging, and persuading the media.'

Even Mr Blair could not try to deny that New Labour have used the media in a more dishonest and cynical manner that any previous British government. His 'argument' is full of little attempts to pretend that he is trying to engage in debate, when in fact he is doing nothing of the sort:

"But it was an example of being held to account, not avoiding it. But leave that to one side."

Here Mr Blair pretends that he doesn't even need to tell us all how accountable and honest he is, as if. He has consistently avoided being accountable for several of his dishonest and deceitful actions, the only inquiries he has ordered have been run by his own personal cronies such as Lord Hutton.

Mr Blair then proceeded to detail some rather obvious facts about the way that technology has been changing the media, hardly cutting edge stuff really Mr Blair. He then tries to do precisely what he promised us he wouldn't; that is blaming everyone but himself and his party for today's cynical state of affairs:

"We devote reams of space to debating why there is so much cynicism about politics and public life. In this, the politicians are obliged to go into self flagellation, admitting it is all our fault. Actually not to have a proper press operation nowadays is like asking a batsman to face bodyline bowling without pads or headgear. And, believe it or not, most politicians come into public life with a desire to serve and by and large, try to do the right thing not the wrong thing.

My view is that the real reason for the cynicism is precisely the way politics and the media today interact. We, in the world of politics, because we are worried about saying this, play along with the notion it is all our fault. So I introduced: first, lobby briefings on the record; then published the minutes; then gave monthly press conferences; then Freedom of Information; then became the first Prime Minister to go to the Select Committee's Chairman's session; and so on. None of it to any avail, not because these things aren't right, but because they don't deal with the central issue: how politics is reported."

The lies are spun. The cynicism is nothing to do with the cynical policy making behind closed doors that has become the norm these days. It has nothing to do with reform agendas that are pushed through without proper consultations against the will of the public, it is nothing do with a top down authoritarian power structure that rides roughshod over the democratic process. Tony 'the great' has given us the wonderful Freedom of Information act, which is yet another pretence at openness by a regime that is anything but open. In Tony's eyes it's all down to the way it is reported, and nothing to do with the way which politics is conducted.

The speech continues along the same illogical lines; Mr Blair even has the audacity to accuse the media of seeing things in black and white, just remember that this is the man who sees the world in terms of 'an axis of evil' and 'a war on terror'. Mr Blair accuses the media of seeking impact and sensationalising stories, of course this is true; however Mr Blair's has certainly played his part in this unhealthy dumbing down of the press. Politicians such as Mr Blair are always keen to talk of engaging with the public, however he must be judged on his actions over the last ten years which have shown zero genuine signs of engagement in 'debate' as he likes to call it.

No one will be taken in by this deeply hypocritical diatribe of Mr Blair's. The media response has already pointed out several glaring flaws in Mr Blair's argument of sorts. The slightly worrying element to Blair's comments is the hint at yet more over controlling regulation by a cynical regime that wants to try to control everything. It is amusing that a man who has cynically used the media to further his own interests via a certain Mr Murdoch has so suddenly changed his tune. There is a lot to comment on, as this issue links in with everything that has become so detestable about New Labour. The talk is of more accountability, more local control, more freedom and more open debate; however the reality consists of an increasingly authoritarian dictatorship that seeks to be completely unaccountable for the damage it does via corrupt policy concocted behind closed doors.

'I've made this speech after much hesitation. I know it will be rubbished in certain quarters. But I also know this has needed to be said.'

This is true Tony, your hypocritical words will be rubbished as they are so demonstrably hollow and dishonest. It is precisely because of new kinds of new media source such as the blog that your deceitful nature has been exposed for all to see. Your policy has helped one man increase his media ownership in such a way that an unhealthy monopoly has been approached, it is this kind of unhealthy state that encourages the sensationalist dumbing down of the media. If you live by the sword, then I am afraid that you must die by it; you cannot simply change your tune when things don't go your way and pretend to be an honest champion of democracy.

It is strange that the fault is never your own, there is always someone else to blame for your mess. This is precisely why your rule has been such a dismal failure, you are never willing to admit fault and learn from it; your way is to lie, pin blame elsewhere and carry on regardless. Your words are hollow Mr Blair, have you no depths that you are not willing to plumb?

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