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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Cynicism keeps coming back

Cynicism is an affliction as incurable as a cold sore. You might shake it off for a while – but it keeps coming back.

So, if you’ll forgive the afflicted, I do have to admit to yet another attack. See, when all main parties agree on something, I tend to suspect something is badly wrong. Or set to go that way.

Leveson. All that fury. Such bitterness, accusation, recrimination, finger-stabbing anger across the floor of the Commons, has dissolved into a chummy late-night agreement that all’s well that ends well.

That’s probably unlikely – or so says the cynic in me.

A deal has been struck by politicians who have appointed themselves puppet masters grasping the strings, however loosely, of all those whose first duty in a democracy is to hold them to account.

My guess is that the sharp-suited chiefs of large national print media organisations will now be shrugging off hangovers left by last night’s celebratory dinners, telling themselves and each other that things could have been a whole lot worse.

That’s possibly true. But they could also have been a heck (as opposed to hack) of a lot better had existing laws against cruel intrusion, phone-hacking, bribery and corruption been properly enforced and penalties for lawbreakers in press, politics and police been strengthened.

Too late for regrets now. But David Cameron must be wondering about the wisdom of calling an inquiry that wasted time, breathtaking sums of money, threatened to humiliate and oust him as Prime Minister and led an embarrassing number of accusations of inappropriate allegiances right back to his door.

And all for what? A revised process of independent regulation and what Harriet Harman calls “a small piece of legislation” to ensure politicians can’t fiddle with press freedom.

Pass the ointment. Cynicism sores are throbbing again.

What has exchanged hands in this deal? Is Ed Miliband the kind of opposition leader given to making concessions without return favour. Does either he or Cameron risk losing close friends in national media? Will Nick Clegg ever stop trying to sell his party’s votes to the highest bidder?

And is this any way to deal with blatantly broken law and the self-interest that has threatened to bring about the bleakest day in a 300-year history of a free British media?

Perhaps things could have been a lot worse. But that’s no comfort to local and regional newspapers, where no phones were hacked, no police officers paid for information, no low friendships formed in high places – but where the same stiff-bristled brush will inevitably tar us all.

Have your say

Some people may call it cynicism, others may call it pragmatism or reality.

Posted by Orange peel on 22 March 2013 at 12:58

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