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March 17, 2015

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Calum

And yet, if you ask permanent insiders, they will tell you he is the most competent and pleasant premier to work for in a long time. That certainly chimes with my (extremely brief) experiences of meeting him.

A political leader has to marry hundreds of strands of potential action into a cohesive programme, both from inside and outside his party, and has to do so while giving the impression he thinks all of it is a good idea. I agree he has made some honking mistakes over the years - but you have to compare and contrast this with the series of decisions a Prime Minister takes daily, every single one of which is a potential banana skin, most of which none of us are cognisant of until something goes wrong.

Also, I don't think it's just background. George (if he emerges) will never have the authority Cameron does, despite sharing class and background.

Ralph Musgrave

So Chris thinks the “far right” is “neo-racist”. Just one teensy problem there, as follows. The Labour Party took part in the slaughter of a million Muslims in Iraq for no good reason, while the BNP and UKIP opposed the war from day one.

But never mind: money and power always buy respectability, so Labour and Tories are quite safe. Indeed if Labour and Tories started herding Jews into gas chambers I’ve got serious doubts as to just how far they’d be regarded as racist.

e

Bemoan a corporate media that’s unable to portray the nation we have become under Cameron’s response to economic crisis. Cameron is a “here today gone tomorrow politician”, as someone once said. Our media, once upon a time, was a tad more representative, a tad more real.

Luis Enrique

it might also have something to do with what interviewers regard as reasonable or to be expected. They may think that "of course" the government needs to get down immigration and cut the deficit, but regard less familiar policies with suspicion and hence attack them. My guess is that background assumptions about what is reasonable explain a lot.

gastro george

@Calum - "... the most competent and pleasant premier ..."

Competent?

Pleasant I can understand. Many a confidence-trickster or psychpath is pleasant - while stealing your wallet from your back pocket.

My impression is that he just wings it a lot of the time, and relies on the media's short memories and event horizons. He would say almost anything to stay in power, as long as the boat is sailing in the right direction with him on the bridge.

An Alien Visitor

The main point is the lack of serious analysis in our unfree media and the lack of relevant tough questioning. It is all showbiz superficiality and for reasons that totally escape me Cameron is seen as being more leader like than his rivals. To me he looks like a dodgy car salesman.

Calum - I guess we should ask how 'permanent insiders' come to the conclusion that he is competent, assuming we believe you of course.

Steven Clarke

@An Alien Visitor

It was ever thus.

I've just read Thomas Hardy's 'Pursuit of the Well Beloved', written in the 1890s, before even all men could vote and the celebrity-obsessed, 24/7 mass media.

Here are a couple of quotations:

"No principles of wise government had place in any mind, a blunt and jolly personalism as to the Ins and Outs animating all."

"The pity is that politics are looked on as being a game for politicians, just as cricket is a game for cricketers; not as the serious duties of political trustees."

gastro george

I wonder what became of "the Big Society", "the greenest government ever", etc.

Dipper

I'd agree on the dreadful standards of modern journalism. The news media seem to be obsessed with "narrative" and pursuing a line without any analysis. This leads to assumptions about good and bad, and credible and non-credible which given the central role news media take in our society is dangerous for democracy.

Ben

Poor journalism is an indicator of - well I was going to say education standards - but no - it's an indicator of the desire of the population to think critically about difficult topics.

Brits seem obsessed with easy thinking. They lack the concentration required.

Recently I've been listening more to CBC Montreal. I flicked back briefly to Radio 5 and was shocked at the contrast. It sounded like "The Sun" radio. I know it's not Radio 4 (which has also fallen a long way) but still.

I've been saying for years - it's an educational death spiral. The less able we are to think the less able our children are and the more the establishment make out like bandits, ably assisted by technology which allows a greater ability to obfuscate.

Dipper

Ben - completely agree. US journalism seems to do a much better job of investigating in depth and probing. UK journalism seems to recycle the same set of limited ideas ad nauseum, and encourage lazy simplistic sterotypes.

Dipper

... one example is pop stars and others investing in tax avoidance schemes. The implicit assumption is that HMRC's view on these schemes is the correct one. I have seen no serious analysis of HMRC's role in developing and monitoring these schemes, and it has been left to David Gower in the Telegraph to provide some punchy analysis.

Jacques René Giguère

I am canadian. That Ben thinks so well of the supine CBC made me realise how low the BBC must have sunk in my absence...

theOnlySanePersonOnPlanetEarth

"That Ben thinks so well of the supine CBC made me realise how low the BBC must have sunk in my absence."

And when Dipper claimed US journalism is more probing I nearly choked on my waffles.

ChurmRincewind

Pope had it right:

True Wit is Nature to Advantage drest,
What oft was Thought, but ne'er so well Exprest;
Something, whose Truth convinc'd at Sight we find,
That gives us back the Image of our Mind."

In other words, the most compelling commentaries tell us what we already think. Journalism in a free society reflects, but does not lead. It "gives us back the image of our mind".

Criticism of "the media" generally amounts to a simple complaint that it doesn't reflect the beholder's views. Which gets us nowhere.

gastro george

I’m just listening to Robert Peston describing a 4% increase in spending after sequential years of 5% decreases as “a feast”. Is he innumerate?

Jedgarnaut

He is the right sort, right? Hale fellow, well met?

Leslie48

I have found for my sanity that watching ITV News at Ten is more objective/balanced than BBC1 which looks increasingly pompous, narrowly London centred and repetitive of a Tory Press-agenda. For example The BBC never talk about the Cons unpopularity beyond the South East or ask why their position is so dire in Scotland or who they will go into coalition with or whether the growing inequality in the UK reflects the Cons inability to break out of being a purely SE English party. The BBC has slipped so much into reflecting the Tory press agenda that their impartiality as our Public Service Broadcaster is worse than I can ever recall.

Richard

@ChurmRincewind

"Journalism in a free society reflects, but does not lead."

Does that have to be the case? I would prefer journalism that makes me think twice, challenges me to defend my current beliefs, and actually provides an opportunity for me to learn something. Also I would expect views opposing my own to be challenged. Surely that is compatible with a free society?

Richard

@ChurmRincewind

..."the most compelling commentaries tell us what we already think"

For me the most compelling commerntaries are ones that manage to convince me to change my mind.

Sam

"In all these respects he should have earned the contempt even of conservatives. And yet this is not how he is portrayed in the media. Why not?"

Partly, standards are relative. Cameron doesn't look great as a PM in abstract, but when standing next to Messrs. Miliband and Clegg, he looks pretty good.

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