Thursday, January 11, 2007

Flagging Vs

Chancing on David Lipsey's latest in Public Finance, it reminds me that it is easy to assume that many people share your views when they don't.

I agree with every word that he's written here. I'd go further. It is a terrifically banal article. It says nothing that I would normally think controversial or even particularly interesting. But since I've started saying similar banal things rather a lot, I've been quite surprised to find that only a small proportion of those who choose to comment on the government of this country actually agree with this article.

Here's a sample:

"Brown’s inscrutability is a matter of choice. Although he is determined that his premiership will be very different from Blair’s, he is equally determined not to show his hand too clearly. Indeed, his more recent tactic has been to suggest that he agrees with the present prime minister on everything (replacing Trident, for example) on the grounds that the more Blair can be convinced that Brown is his clone, the sooner he will leave Number 10.

What has been less noticed, however, is that the same choice — inscrutability over transparency — has been made by practically every would-be prime minister before he got the job."

And...

"the capacity of prime ministers to shape events is limited. They are leaders of a medium-sized power in a world dominated by globalisation and big international companies. They are blown about by forces outwith their control; in particular today a press that is powerful, ignorant and vicious. They have their party to consider as well as their country.

And anyway, beyond all this, they are largely the creature of the electorate, who have either voted them in or will get the chance to vote them out."

The interesting question, to me, is this: Is Lipsey's article really an accurate reflection of how government works? And if it is, is it a satisfactory state of affairs that we - as a society - are increasingly prepared to allow people think / pretend to think otherwise to shape public debate in the way that they do?

And do the political class / chattering class have a role to play in providing a counterweight to the idiotic generalists that make up the paid commentariat? Or should they just sit on the sidelines, gloating about it, blaming everyone else, and flicking random V-signs instead?

It's a tough one, innit?

4 comments:

Ivan said...

It's your questions that are tough. I thought I'd strip this one down to see if it actually asked anything. It starts off as:
'And if it is, is it a satisfactory state of affairs that we - as a society - are increasingly prepared to allow people think / pretend to think otherwise to shape public debate in the way that they do'
which strips down to:
'Is it a satisfactory state of affairs that we are prepared to allow people to think otherwise to shape public debate in the way that they do.'
Nope, still doesn't mean anything to me.
As for:
'And do the political class / chattering class have a role to play in providing a counterweight to the idiotic generalists that make up the paid commentariat?'
- I thought they were the same people.

Paulie said...

"'And if it is, is it a satisfactory state of affairs that we - as a society - are increasingly prepared to allow people think / pretend to think otherwise to shape public debate in the way that they do' "

There should be a 'who' in front of 'people'.

By 'think otherwise' I mean people who pretend to think that court politics works in a significantly different way to the way that Lipsey describes.

And "political class / chattering class" are not the same as the paid commentariat. You and I, Ivan, are in the former two and not the latter. Yet we often uncritically allow journalists to set our agendas for us and we don't challenge them.

I want the whole world to have a blog that makes all of the same points that I do.

;-)

Snipperoo said...

aha! the missing 'who' makes it all clear

so, in venn diagram terms, the paid commentariat are inside the chattering/political classes - or do they just overlap? does it matter?

Paulie said...

No. It doesn't matter.