Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Today's story is...

For more than ten years, New Labour somehow managed to keep the media on board with their own version of the political narrative. Critics called it ‘spin’ from the outset; but whatever you call it, it’s a pretty impressive achievement. Now they seem to have lost it, completely.

I heard a journalist on the radio the other day, talking about the way the story about someone nicking Cameron’s bike was reported. It was reported as a reasonably straight story, with Cameron being the victim of theft. The journalist went on to say that it would have been reported quite differently had it been Brown and his bike. The story then would have been about a hapless idiot leaving his bike unattended in a public place.

It’s true isn’t it? ‘The media’ have decided what the political narrative is, and every individual news item is presented in that light. So, even if Brown and Cameron do and say exactly the same thing, one will be made out to be fresh and exciting, and the other dull and tired.

Is it fair? Well, no, of course not. At one level, it shows the power which ‘the media’ now wield. I’ll admit that I’m not entirely sure to what extent the media are creating a particular narrative about Brown and Labour, and to what extent they are merely reflecting the views of the public at large. That’s impossible to assess, it seems to me. At the very least, the public mood had to be ready to accept and identify with the change of narrative before the media could influence it. But the narrative has changed, however one analyses cause and effect, and the downward spiral has become self-reinforcing.

Whether fair or not, it is remarkably similar to what happened to John Major and the Tories. I thought that Major was a sincere and honest sort of person (dare I say 'a regular sort of guy'?), however much I disagreed with him. And I really didn’t think his government was any more prone to ‘sleaze’ than its predecessor - or its successor. But sleaze became the narrative, and every story confirming that was seized on as evidence.

On that occasion, Labour benefited from the narrative; on this occasion they are the victims. There’s a certain poetic justice there, somehow. Those who live by the sword…

Monday, 28 July 2008


Fascinating to see the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales standing up for the Wales Office. She is suggesting that Wales needs a strong voice in the Cabinet. But not, presumably, the sort of voice which might come from appointing a Welsh MP to the job. I wonder how she keeps a straight face making statements like this.

I have to say that I'm not entirely convinced by Plaid's argument either. Elfyn Llwyd argues that abolition of the Wales Office "would slow down the democratic process and hinder the work being done on LCOs". I'm not sure that it could be any slower - and maybe abolishing the department which seems to be doing most to slow things down might actually help.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Cigars and Promises

At one level, the issue which led to the resignation of the Culture Minister looks pretty minor, and taken at face value, it does look like something of an over-reaction. Glyn Davies is not the only one who seems to think so, and indeed, it was noticeable that few, if any, political opponents were baying for blood.

Peter Black picks up on Matt Withers’ story, and suggests that this is a piece of spin by Plaid’s advisors to darken the character of Rhodri Glyn in order to bolster the credibility of the Deputy First Minister. Sounds a bit convoluted to me.

I actually think that one of the most interesting comments was that in the Western Mail on Saturday, when Martin Shipton stated that Rhodri Glyn had been heard telling people that he was ‘on a final warning’. If this is true, and I have no reason to doubt it (although I am always sceptical about ‘hearsay’) then I suspect that this hints at the real crime. Not smoking in a prohibited area, not even drinking more than is good for him, but flagrantly flouting the warnings he had been given.

If I was a leader who had given someone a final warning, and then discovered that the individual had not only not heeded the warning, but was almost bragging about it, I think I’d take that as a pretty direct challenge to my authority. Worse, if Shipton is to be believed, promises of good behaviour had also been given, and then broken.

Anyone can make a mistake, and mistakes can be forgiven. But someone who deliberately chooses to act in direct contravention of clear warnings and instructions is asking for trouble; and it should be no surprise to anyone that his leader’s patience wore thin to the point where any misdemeanour, however small, would lead to action – and where failing to act would serve only to make all previous warnings look meaningless and ineffective. The straw which breaks the camel’s back doesn’t have to be a large one; that’s the point of the proverb.

PS – I wish I had not got so fed up with my fictional minister, now; if I’d waited just a little longer, I could have appeared remarkably prescient. Sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction.

Back, after a fashion

Now returned after an extended break, only to find that some bloggers have departed the field. Normal Mouth, in particular, I shall miss. Didn't always agree with him, but his posts were often thought-provoking. The Labour Party will be much more poorly represented in the blogosphere as a result.

Both Normal Mouth and Southpaw Grammar refer to 'other projects' as being behind their departure. I also have 'other projects' to attend to, and have given serious thought to following their example. For the time being, however, Ceredig will continue, although blogging may become (even) less regular than it has been to date. A decision to be reviewed at a future date...