Parliament regains its bark…now for the bite!

July 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

I believe that, in so many ways, the hack-gate, for want of a better term, has caused a shift in a number of our establishment institutions-the Press, Parliament, the Police-that won’t easily be re-set to its old ways.

In today’s 24/7 media age, where everyday events are dramatised until the last drip of newsworthy-ness is rung out of them, it is all to easy to describe something as a ‘historic turning point,’ but I believe this has been.

Our very establishment has been rocked to its core…with hardly anyone coming out of it not smelling of the brown and smelly stuff.

As I wrote on this blog yesterday, Labour Leader Ed Miliband has-by and large-caught the mood of the nation right and has led, certainly among party leaders, on the calls for Rebekah Brooks to stand down as News International’s CEO (which, very belatedly, she finally did today.)

I’m very proud that my own party has also been diligent in calling for the same and Nick Clegg is leading on how we might best go about reforming some of these outdated and-it could be readily argued-unworkable institutions, such as the PCC, and the relationships between politicians and the press and the police and the press.

But this has also been an excellent ten days for Parliament.

Some argue that the major decisions in our national life are made elsewhere, in Downing Street or at the various party HQ’s; but, this week has shown that the House of Commons still has a central role to play in our democracy.

From the dogged determination of backbenchers Chris Bryant and Tom Watson (who, to give them credit, have shown what backbenchers can do if they get the bit between their teeth and are brave), to the grilling and spot-on mockery of some of our supposed ‘senior’ current and former police officers by the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee which, we hope, will be echoed by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee when they grill the Murdochs, senior and junior, and Ms Brooks next week.

And the fact that Parliament compelled such powerful figures to attend next week, again shows that-after a period of needed relative quiet following MP’s own controversy a few years back-the expenses scandal-Parliament has regained its bark.

Let’s hope it finds its bite soon, too.

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The week my party began its fightback!

July 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

There’s been a lot of talk in recent days that this has been the week where Ed Miliband finally got into his stride as Labour Leader.

It would be churlish not to agree; the younger Miliband, along with his colleagues Chris Bryant and Tom Watson have made (almost) all the running on the issue…properly holding the Government to account for arguably the first time since last May’s General Election.

One commentator, writing for the new and brilliant ‘Dale and Co’ blog even suggested that this was the week ‘Red’ Ed ‘became Prime Minister.’

I think that’s rather stretching the point but, bless them, Labour voters haven’t had much to cheer about in recent months, so we’ll perhaps allow themselves a little hyperbole.

So that’s one¬†change which may or may not lead to a significant change in British politics.

Another however, little commented upon this week, has also taken place and deserves to be noted.

I’m going to stick my head on the line and suggest that this is the week my party, the Liberal Democrats, began a fightback…after a year in which we’ve been blamed for almost everything.

This week our party was able to rightly point out that we are the only (certainly major party) not to have ever cosied up to Rupert Murdoch and his media empire.

Beyond that, senior party figures-including the recently much maligned Vince Cable-have been proven to be wholly right in long ago questioning whether Mr Murdoch was a ‘right’ and ‘proper’ person to be owning all of BSKYB¬†(a question now being reflected upon by OFCOM.)

And it was Liberal Democrats, including our current Leader Nick Clegg and our former leader Paddy Ashdown, who rightly warned the Prime Minister about the potential pitfalls of taking on Andy Coulson as his spin chief into 10 Downing Street.

So, on all the big questions raised by this issue, the Liberal Democrats have been on the right side.

You may say, ‘well, look, you’re right on that but how many people out in the country, in the ‘real world,’ will have noticed?

I think a lot will have done. Of course people have their own worries; the economy, their jobs, etc.

But since the revelations came out about the hacking of the phone of Milly Dowler’s phone, if not before, this issue has caught the public conscience and I believe people will have noticed which of the major party’s has the cleanest hands on this issue and that is clearly the Liberal Democrats.

It may only be a small stepping stone in regaining some of the trust lost after the tuition fees issue, among others, but we are-I believe-now firmly headed back down the right path.

Let’s hope we continue to do so.

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