Saturday, April 28, 2012

Epidemic of National Hypocrisy

Radio 4  listening first thing in the morning, newspaper reading during the early evenings and bedtime TV news watching  these days all give the impression of  an outbreak of national hysteria if not hypocrisy  about the behaviour of others.  So far   thankfully,  behaviour  of mine which is in  the hypocritical category is of no interest to the media.

The 6am news on Radio 4 invariably starts with a headline hugely negative about the government or some institution under its supposed control. Of course governments make mistakes or worse and deserve to be criticised but not so long ago the BBC would have been alert to  portray both sides of such criticism. Also there must sometimes be  far more important matters to report than supposed governmental failings.

For example a recent story headlined "Social Cleansing", concerned moving people from London to Stoke on Trent following the introduction of a government cap on housing benefits of £400 weekly ie over £20,000 annually,  plus possibly c. £6,000 pa in other benefits. Obviously no one wants people to be moved from homes where they are comfortably settled but to describe the efforts of the elected government in capping the total paid  to a family out of the public purse to the  same as the average wage earning  income of c. £26,000, as causing "social cleansing", is quite unbalanced. That description also implies that the average wage earner should pay whatever it takes to enable those whose  rents are paid out of  the public purse to keep their existing high cost homes  even where those whose taxes make up the public purse, cannot themselves afford such accommodation.

The Leveson enquiry headlines daily castigate politicians about Murdoch media yet that and the absurdly high wages paid to football stars  are all part of the symptom that rarely receives a mention, namely the effects of individual behaviour in the UK by which people regularly pay large fees to Murdoch media despite its ills, many of which were surely suspected before the phone hacking scandal etc was broken by rivals. Such widespread support  and individual cash payments, give the Murdoch media so much power and influence in the first place.

I never  bought the  News of the World other than for day job purposes  for the very reason that its 'news' and methods of obtaining it seemed synonymous with the old 'gutter press' description. Yet  for the millions who did, was there no thought that  muck raking  of that kind might be questionable? Similarly  the fat cat pay of  some footballers  is so obviously funded in part at least  out of the  huge sums that millions pay Sky for the privilege of viewing them perform, that do not any of its subscribers question whether the £s they are paying Murdoch  are maintaining if not  adding to such problems?

Our politicians and Tony Blair's cronies  on the red side seem as much tainted as David Cameron's lot on the blue, by cosying up to the same Murdoch Empire  to which  Joe Public pays so many £ms, are simply reflecting perhaps not the  the will of the peoples but certainly their actions.

We get the politicians we deserve. The point is further illustrated  by the  reporting of  the current election campaigns for the London mayor. The reporting appears to  be geared to vilifying both the main candidates Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone. That neither of these gentleman is perfect goes without saying but the emphasis on whether  Red Ken has (quite legally) saved a bit of income tax or Blue Boris is a bit of a toff, misses the point which is surely whether their  respective proposed policies for London  stack up?

If we continue to treat our politicians with such contempt and hypocrisy (who really wants to pay more tax than they are legally obliged to?) we will become saddled with second rate men and women and the quality of political leadership will  suffer enormously - why bother  putting oneself up for election if vilification is the likely outcome left, right or coalition?

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