Friday, June 06, 2008

WestminsterEnders: how to be a political pundit

So, a few days after Andrew Rawnsley congratulated Gordon Brown on being a bold, principled leader who stuck to his guns on the HFE Bill while also urging Brown to change his mind on 42-day detention, John Kampfner now argues that Brown’s position on the latter is motivated by a “lack [of] moral courage”, and that abandoning the unpopular policy he has championed would be “standing up for what he believes to be right”.

All of which columnistic kerfuffle, telling us precious little about the merits and flaws of the policy, goes to prove Chris’s point: that the quality of ideas matters more than the psychology of the person who happens to be advancing them. Or at least it should. For those who prefer to treat politics as a soap opera, the ‘ishoos’ are just a plot device to shed light on the rival personalities and their ups and downs.

This is how it works:

  1. Decide whether you like politician X.
  2. Decide whether you like policy Y (which X espouses).
  3. If the above decisions point in the same direction, commend/condemn X for being the kind of visionary/scumbag who’d support Y.
  4. If they point in different ways, then explain that X doesn’t really believe in Y and is espousing it for political reasons. Sneer at opportunism or plead for courage depending on whether you’re anti-X and pro-Y or pro-X and anti-Y.
  5. If you must discuss Y, do so only in terms of how it affects X’s standing.
  6. Ponder whether the sudden arrival of X’s hitherto-unmentioned long-lost brother will raise questions about paternity, half-buried grudges, rightful ownership of the caff and who that slaaaaag from no. 24 is going to hook up with next.

No comments: