The commentators 13-02-15
...on UK politics
Europe is the Jekyll and Hyde of the 2015 election. To a portion of the electorate, getting Britain out of the EU is a frenzied obsession. Yet for most people Europe is a second-order issue. Fewer than 10% of voters cite Europe as one of the top three issues facing Britain – and only 22% of Ukip voters think it is the number one issue. The outcome of the election will certainly have major implications for relations between Britain and Europe, but none of the three main parties will put Europe at the centre of its campaign
- Martin Kettle, The Guardian
Not much matters in politics but the toxic association of the Tories with the inexplicably rich does matter. It locates a Tory virus, isolates it, then spreads it. Ed Miliband has been astute to press hard on the row over Lord Fink, the former treasurer of the Tory party who is on the record saying that “everyone” seeks to avoid tax. Coupled with the tax avoidance scandal at HSBC and the no-questions-asked appointment of the bank’s former chairman Stephen Green as a trade minister, the Tories are courting a fatal connotation for a governing party.
- Philip Collins, The Times
The public does not want unprofessional politicians any more than unprofessional dentists. But we do need to find a more civilised form of discourse in which politicians are able to admit they have got things wrong and reverse track without fearing for their careers. Interviewers and news editors need to cut the politicians some slack; and politicians, in turn, need to relax their message discipline and not to worry so much about making gaffes.
- Jonathan Powell, Financial Times
The trebling of university tuition fees is regarded as one of the great cruelties of this Coalition, one of the harshest blows dealt by the austerity era. Nick Clegg had hoped that voters might forgive him for his part in all this, but if anything, the voters’ desire for vengeance seems to harden as polling day approaches. And understandably so: he explicitly promised not to hike fees, then broke his word. So it’s a shame that no one would believe him if he pointed out that the reform has been a great success.
- Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
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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