Wednesday, July 19, 2006

This kleptocracy we live in

Just catching up:

Martin Kettle says....
"It is beyond argument that the award of peerages has always been a cynical business. Ditto that Britain's party-political funding system is unsustainable. And also that John Prescott is a busted flush. All these things are true and, in context, serious. But there is much more to politics and government than this. Yet our political culture doesn't want to know. It seems incapable of getting out of second gear.

This has been a week, after all, in which politics has emphatically not been about games but about the real thing. The Middle East has taken a sharp turn for the worse. What appears to be Islamist terrorism has been brutally unleashed on a country with impeccable anti-imperialist credentials. And the UK government has announced a major strategic rethink on the country's long-term energy needs.

And yet what, for most British journalism this week, has been "the question that just won't go away" - aka the question we prefer to go on asking anyway? Not the Middle East, Islamist terrorism or whether the lights will stay on. Instead you have a choice of: "Why didn't John Prescott declare the gift of a stetson?", "Who else has he slept with?" or "Are the police going to question Tony Blair about Labour loans?" In this political culture, the closest we get to putting it all into perspective is episode 952 of the "When will Blair go?" saga.

Yet to pretend that Prescott's foolishness, Michael Levy's fundraising or even Blair's hold on the prime ministership are the biggest questions currently facing this country is pathetic. None of these things is remotely the case. Britain is not a country in political crisis. This is not a nation governed by incompetents. Our political system is not corrupt."
Absolutely right. And from the pen of a journalist as well. He'll be drummed out of the union shortly I expect. And I like that 'political culture in second gear' image as well.

Now, if you still DO think that this country has a corrupt political system, could I respectfully suggest that you fuck off to ... er... Belgium, France, Italy or the Republic of Ireland to name but a few neighbouring states where things are a good deal worse. Or almost anywhere else in the world come to that?

(BTW, Martin Kettle has been very good on the subject of 'campaigning journalism' lately, hasn't he?)

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