Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
Mr Dickson describes my article as “just yet more “Ed Miliband is weird, haha Labour” Conservi-drivel that focuses on personality and not policy “. However, this ascribes beliefs I do not hold. At no point do I claim that Ed Miliband is “weird”. At no point do I claim that personality is more important that policies. At no point do I claim there is no media bias. In each case, I hold beliefs diametrically opposed to the mischaracterisation: I find Ed Miliband to be likeable and erudite; I believe policies are the only thing that should matter; and all media outlets are, to some extent, biased.
The media represents many voices: this is a disharmonious choir. A good example of this eliding equivocation is actually in the response, where “the media” refers to, at various times: three broadcasters; The Sun; outlets precluding The Guardian and The Huffington Post; and The Telegraph.
Upon further discussion, Mr Dickson and I converged on a point of agreement: British politics can be infuriatingly trivial.
In 2009, there was a furore around then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown supposedly not answering what biscuits he liked. The Sun labelled the PM a “jammie dodger”. At Prime Minister’s Questions, then-Opposition Leader David Cameron asked:
Are we really going to spend another six months with a Prime Minister who cannot give a straight answer, who cannot pass his own legislation, and who sits in his bunker not even able to decide what sorts of biscuits he wants to eat?
The problem was – whilst individual Mumsnet users asked about biscuits in the live web chat – Mr Brown never saw that question. As a Mumsnet poster explains:
Gordon Brown didn’t follow the live chat on the screen directly – he answered the questions grouped and fed to him by MNHQ and his advisors.
Rolling to 2012, the coalition government sought to amend the Value Added Tax rules so that hot food heated to “above air-ambient temperature” would have VAT applied. There are unusual iniquities about when VAT is due. Given this proposal’s effect on pasties, this episode was labelled ‘pasty-gate’. The Prime Minister recalled a time when he ate a pasty:
I think the last one I bought was from the West Cornwall Pasty Company. I seem to remember I was in Leeds station at time.
Labour politicians visited Greggs. The Sun portrayed the Chancellor as Marie Antoinette. James Delingpole wrote in The Telegraph agreeing “Cameron and his crew are a bunch of painfully, out-of-touch toffs”. Eliane Glaser of The Guardian lambasted David Cameron’s “fake authenticity” for describing food he likes. Rather than delineating why the VAT system is a metamorphosing monstrosity, focus of political debate became about politicians eating pasties.
Lastly, there is Ed Miliband versus the bacon sandwich. SLR cameras are capable of action shots, taking a burst stream of photographs. In this case, the action was the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition eating a bacon sandwich. Adam Withnall in The Independent wrote “the Labour leader struggled in his bid to look normal”. After the images virally spread through social media, Ed Miliband spoke:
I am not from central casting. You can find people who are more squared-jawed, more chiselled, look less like Wallace.
How the Labour leader eats bacon sandwiches is inconsequential.
It is easier to thoughtlessly ridicule than to logically criticise. It is easier to simplify, trivialise and sensationalise; than to discuss the world as it really is, in its entire lustrous nuance.