Despite the media classing the Liberal Democrats as a political inconsequence, all the major papers seem somewhat obsessed with Ming Campbell’s departure. Today’s Times is no acceptation, devoting six pages to the scenario. It is not the political intrigue which led to the circumstances of Ming’s departure which concerns me, but the underlying view propagated by both Liberal activists and the media that it was his age that mattered, not his ability. Not only is this discrimination, but more importantly, it is another example of the media setting the political agenda to the determent of the public and in this case, a democratic party. As Campbell comments on his frustration and irritation on having had to step down;
“Irritated because of the quite extraordinary concentration on trivia which seemed to surround my leadership – people write articles on what kind of socks I wear”
My concerns are further highlighted by an article on Kate McCann, who clearly thinks she is being persecuted by a pre determined media conception. Her concerns focus on the conception that she is not suitably “maternal” for the tabloids.
“If I weighed another two stone, had a bigger bosom and looked more maternal, people would be more sympathetic”
Both Ming Campbell’s departure and Kate McCann’s referral to “black propaganda” raise the very important issue of who controls the agenda’s of this country. The media clearly sees itself as “head of policy” for the nation. It now has the power to appoint and dismiss political party leaders and dictate to us how we should view people based on age, appearance and ultimately sex. Not only is this very wrong, but in a free democracy it is very dangerous. I want my political leaders appointed on ability, honesty and commitment, not on whether they shop at Primarck, Prada or Greenwoods. Neither do I want people judged on innocence or guilt as a result of their appearance or failure to conform to the media norm.
Luckily, thousands of people have rebelled against the control of the “feral” beast, hence the millions of blogs which are currently active in this country alone. Perhaps we are now the only source reflecting the views of the country. If so, long may we prevail……….