Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I can see the newspaper comment article now: "Why are politicians all so obsessed with soundbites?"

It will point out that politicians have become a breed who all follow the same line, don't say anything that they have not been schooled to say by spin doctors and do not have an original thought between them. It will go on to bemoan the lack of characters in an anodyne House of Commons. They will refer to the great leaders of the past: Churchill, Lloyd George, Gladstone - "say what you like about their personal peccadillos they were at least not afraid to speak their mind" the article will thunder.

The article will appear in the Daily Telegraph. Probably in the next few months.

But am I alone in finding it wrong that its somehow acceptable to wire people up and send them in posing as constituents to have private conversations (for which the politician has a duty of confidentiality) with MPs? The recent case where the FA was embarassed following a private chat about refereeing procurement was a similarly questionable journalistic exercise. These are fishing expeditions mounted on the off-chance of catching something exciting.

And like any hunted beast politicians will respond by not saying anything thats not on-message. And our politics (and, by extension, country) will get weaker for it.

But everyone still needs to let steam out, to say what they really think. Just as well that there will still be somewhere where they can do so - off-the-record briefings to journalists. Like those of the Daily Telegraph.