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Saturday 12 February 2011

Us And Them – Again

Votes for prisoners – yes, this is an issue that has serious mileage in it. Not for any kind of principled debate, you understand, but as a way for politicians to do a bit of serious self publicity and rabble rousing. Because the target is Europe, and as any fule kno, Europe is an alien force that does Very Bad Things to us.

Or at least one would have thought, after reading through the why-oh-why copy that the assembled hackery has been churning out of late. Typical is this article from the obedient nodding donkeys of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre: small wonder that the Express confused the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) with the European Union (EU), when the Mail, the source of much of its recycled material, deliberately lumps the two together as “Europe”.

The Mail piece trowels on the idea that the ECHR is full of those nasty foreigners passing judgment on poor defenceless Brits, while managing not to mention that we are represented there too, and our judges also pass judgment on matters concerning countries where they do not reside. It’s the same with the EU: the fact that this is a club of which we are a member does not enter: that approach gets in the way of pretending that “Europe” is forever agin us.

Moreover, it would get in the way of attention seeking punters and politicians. The Mail has found one of the most adept self publicists, Tory MP Priti Patel, who starts her rant with the obligatory “this is a shameful attempt by Europe ...”, continues with “most British people already distrust European institutions trying to meddle in their lives”, and rounds off with telling how the ECHR is “posturing and trying to bully Britain”.

When you’re through with the hyperbolic denunciations, Priti, just think on: people who distrust European institutions do so because of the barrage of misinformation from folks like you, and your pals in the Fourth Estate. If anyone is posturing and trying to bully the other side, you are, and therefore the one who is being shameless is you.

Maybe, just maybe, the assembled hacks and rent-a-quote punters and politicians could tone it down a little and allow the public to be properly informed, and have their own grown up debate on the matter – without the Paul Dacres and Priti Patels of this world telling them how they ought to think.

But that might mean the public make their own minds up, and for some, that would never do.

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