The commentators 11-02-15
...on UK politics
There is no shortage of reasons to be frustrated with a Labour party not offering an inspiring enough alternative. But for Tories to be auctioning off dinners, bronze statues of Thatcher and pheasant shooting escapades in our nation of food banks, zero-hour contracts and poverty wages – well, it should concentrate the senses. Our shameless, rapacious economic elite keep the Conservatives afloat not out of generosity, but because they expect a return. Can money buy democracy? In less than three months, we will find out.
- Owen Jones, The Guardian
We, the taxpayers, could each donate a few coins to fund the parties ourselves. Just under £31 million was spent by all parties at the 2010 general election — that’s roughly 50p per person, less than a packet of crisps. Germany, France, Australia and Canada already do it.
- Alice Thomson, The Times
Crime is not an election issue. Neither David Cameron nor Ed Miliband needs to allude to the shambles of incarceration, because voters do not talk much about crime or rank it among their top five concerns. People feel more safe, and their instinct is right. Most crime is falling like a stone, confounding doom-mongers who warned that honest citizens would have to protect themselves against malefactors groomed by family breakdown and economic recession.
- Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph
The cult of “message discipline” is eating itself – a vicious circle of political leaders imposing rigid scripts on their parties to avoid stories of disunity, forcing media to extrapolate big divisions from small scriptural deviation, making leaders ever more paranoid. The rewards available for saying something original are tiny when set against the risk of ridicule and pillory.
- Rafael Behr, The Guardian
There has been celebration today of the recommendation that a judge should approve applications relating to journalists - but most reports have omitted the caveat in the second half of the sentence from their intros. Here it is in full (my underscore):
"Judicial authorisation must be obtained in cases where communications data is sought to determine the source of journalistic information."
Even under the commission's formula, journalists could still have their phone and email records examined by the police on the say-so of a senior officer for other purposes...And why shouldn't they?
No similar protection is proposed for lawyers, doctors, priests and their confidential dealings with clients, patients or parishioners. Perhaps their respective trade journals should kick up a fuss as Press Gazette did.
And how about the other half-million people whose personal data are scrutinised every year?
Protection for sources, not journalists
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