Wednesday, March 26, 2014

GUEST POST We are all the poorer for sound-bite politics

Tony Robertson, a Liberal Democrat councillor from Sefton, says we are all poorly served by the current low standard of political debate.

I often wonder how many politicians of genuine independent thinking may be left as year on year their all-controlling political masters churn out and then demand that silly sound bites are used during every media interview or are placed within every press release.

‘The squeezed middle’ comes to mind as a present favourite but there others which are just as meaningless. Ed Miliband, poor chap, seems to be fed a diet of them and looks so wooden as he tries to sneak them into every interview. But he is far from being alone as senior Tories do it just as hamfistedly. Sadly, I fear it is taking root in senior Lib Dems too.

Of course it is not a new stunt ‘the Pound in your pocket’ comes to mind and ‘never had it so good’ as well but what worries me is that such pointless/meaningless phrases, which easily slip off the tongue, are now just everyday language to our political leaders.

An MP who comes to mind who you would have to try hard to get to do sound bites is John Pugh of Southport, his independence of mind and thought is not easily contained or compromised. But I digress; the issue here is that politicians use sound bites to duck issues, to mud sling and to avoid answering questions.

Why though do the media let them get away with it? Surely, a blatant sound biting stunt from a senior politician would benefit from a firm rebuff along the lines of ‘yes that childlike sound bite is all very well but it does you no credit as a supposedly serious senior politician’! Imagine the howls of indignation and protest, but so long as such media put-downs were fairly handed out across the political spectrum (which of course they would not be) would it not make the sound bite politicians far more wary about trying to take us all for soft Joe’s and Jane’s?

Sadly, many in the media often serve us just as poorly as our political leaders, because of their own political/proprietor bias and unwillingness to take on those in power. As a free thinking Liberal one can despair at the poor quality of public debate either as it comes from politicians or as it is reported by the media. We are indeed poorly served.

Tony Robertson blogs at Sefton Focus.

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