Saturday, November 18, 2006

Mean Ol' Meany Blogs!

[Posted by reader_iam]

How dare you incite the rabble to politician abuse!
Matthew Taylor [Tony Blair's outgoing chief adviser on political strategy] - who stressed he was speaking as a "citizen" not a government spokesman - said the web could be "fantastic" for democracy.
But he said more needed to be done by the web community in general to encourage people to use the internet to "solve problems" rather than simply abuse politicians or make "incommensurate" demands on them.
But rather than work out these dilemmas in partnership with their elected leaders, they were encouraged to regard all politicians as corrupt or "mendacious" by the media, which he described as "a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage".

If you read the whole thing, you'll see that Taylor makes a couple of good points, especially about the gap between the expectations of citizens and their willingness to make some tradeoffs to get what they want. Overall, though--doesn't this strike you as a bit of a self-pitying whine--or, should I say, whinge? Not to mention a silly one: Citizens cynically believing that "leaders are out there to shaft you" (and partisans of various stripes egging the masses on) is supposed to be new phenomenon?

Besides, it's not like politicians themselves are exactly above it all, piously eschewing ambushing, hyperbole, accusations, unreasonable demands, and so forth. Surely Mr. Taylor has heard of Question Time, for example? Then there's the recent example of the two Labour PMs who posted a spoof video on YouTube in which they "invited voters to sleep with the wife of Tory leader David Cameron and to take his children."

And what about the long and proud/checkered history of political pamphleteering and journalism, of which you'd think Taylor would have at least some glancing knowledge. For crying out loud, is he saying that the British Press--the British Press--is and has always been a paragon of civility, deeply respectful of politicians, and utterly above whipping up the masses from one side of the political aisle or other?

I cry abuse--of the laugh test.