Monday, 11 June 2012

“No-one was available for comment”

Yet again this morning a problem affecting people’s livelihoods was raised on Radio 4. And yet again when it came to putting the case for making people poorer/unhealthier/unhappier  there came the all too familiar refrain, “We asked DEFRA (in this instance) but no one was available to comment.” 
It is quite insulting to us as citizens to be treated so contemptibly by our political elite. This process of having no-one available is quite deliberate. It happens over and over again. Heaven forfend if a spokesperson from the ministry of minutiae happened to come forth with frank and candid views about the state of the nation’s paperclips. Nothing can be said until Dr Spin and the Spinnerettes have woven their rosy view of the latest calamity. It is deeply insulting to the thousands of civil servants employed at our expense to work in ‘communications’ within each state department. The Home Office (as was) had 3,500 staff dedicated to communication. 
There is such control of the message these days by the spin machine it extends to MPs as well. An hour before the last Prime Minister’s Questions held before the Commons had yet another break, all Tory MPs received a message from Dessie Swain, the PM’s Private Secretary. The contents were leaked to the Torygraph: 
“I anticipate lots of LoL gags so let’s have a protective wall of sound. If Ed even grudgingly acknowledges anything positive in to-day’s unemployment figures then instantaneously bring down the roof ‘yereyereyere…”. Notwithstanding the unemployment figures I anticipate the main attack will be ‘recession made in downing street … eurozone avoided UK double dip … etc’ so can we have lots of positive endorsements of our strategy using local examples of export success/expansion.”
So not only do we have government ministries treating us with contempt, we also have the image of Tory backbench MPs being so inept they have to be told how to disrupt and behave in the Commons. More fool them if they become nodding dogs or a ‘protective wall of sound’ .....pathetic.  NewLabour were prone to trying to keep everyone ‘on message’ to the point of treating their MPs as clones which had the effect of sometimes provoking even further awkward questions. 
The “No-one was available for comment” line is a matter for Leveson. How are we expected to know what is being done in our name, if the people who do know are stopped from appearing in or on our media and telling us?

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