Sunday is a good day for political piffle. If your average politician (most of whom are decidedly average) can rock up on BBC’s Andrew Marr show or alongside ITV’s Robert Peston and say something definitive, they can dominate the day’s news agenda.
There’s good, and obvious, reasons for this. Most of it is down to resources. Nothing much happens on a Sunday, Govt is not in session and newsrooms and related offices are staffed accordingly. Consequently, if you want to say something and have it go unchallenged, say it on a Sunday.
A few weeks ago it was possible to witness this in action. The newly appointed Conservative Party Chairman was on with Marr and said that the Govt was doing everything in its power to prevent the release of rapist John Warboys. I was out in my car and heard this on every news bulletin I encountered. Within 24 hours it had been disproved.
On the following day, the CPS re-confirmed it would not be reopening the other 90-100 complaints against Warboys that were not considered in his first trial. It seemed to me that this was one thing the Government may have been able to insist upon. Perhaps I misunderstood ‘everything in its power’.
By the Friday the Government confirmed it would not be challenging the decision to release Warboys. This challenge would eventually be taken up by London Mayor Sadiq Khan. In under a week the Government and its representatives had proved to be liars (again). Everything in its power?
Even though our attention spans are notoriously short, five days to enact a complete turnaround is significantly brief. Why do they say these things that they probably know not to be anywhere close to literal truth? Partly they say them to grab headlines, this is clearly very effective. The average person may have been reassured by the Government sounding tough, even if it was bullshit.
Say anything you like, dominate the news agenda, move on. This is the new PR masterclass. Hardly anyone is listening anyway, and if they are listening there’s no focus or indignant recollection.
On yesterday’s Marr show Amber Rudd said that Theresa May was open-minded about the customs union. This morning 10 Downing Street says we must leave. It seems that they can’t keep a position for 24 hours. Yet should an MP stray from the party line, even in a logical way as Phillip Lee did, they are slapped down. Nothing can be spouted publicly if it risks damaging the perception of the party and its nonsensical pandering to what they believe to be the popular opinion. Labour is equally guilty of this on Brexit.
Things that should cause outrage no longer appear to do so. We’re inured to the proclamations of politicians and too used to their half-truths and empty words. That we put up with this is further confirmation of our almost-complete apathy. There is no truth or evidence in society and the political arena, spin has evolved into the ability to lie with impunity. Is this what we voted for?
Photo by jerry kiesewetter on Unsplash