I have to say, I’m less than impressed with this latest revelation that Ed Miliband mostly gets his news from a US newsfeed site and a few aides. The first thought that popped into my head was well, no wonder he looks awkward eating: he’s not used to feeding himself.. It’s mean, I know (I take no pride in the thought), for there aren’t many as could turn eating an unruly sandwich into an elegant performance (and I actually disliked that story) but, well, what can one say: the satire writes itself, these days, doesn’t it? Seriously, though, is he really saying that he doesn’t read the “mainstream” press; that he doesn’t even watch the BBC? And yet his party, just like the others, panders to the Media every day. Can he not see this irony? I’m astounded. And disappointed…
For one, albeit I’m sure he’s busy, it strikes me as the worst kind of laziness in a politician, let alone a main-party leader – even more so in a would-be Prime Minister to rely so much on hand-me-down information. For another, it’s pretty ignorant – bloody rude, in fact – that he does not consider it necessary to know what the People he aspires to serve ‘know’. That he should claim to be on our side! To be a leader! He should at least know the propaganda the country is being fed every day. Then he would know why we feel abused, angry and patronised. If he were sharing our diet, he would understand better the battle between oversimplification or manufactured hysteria and paranoia at one end of the mainstream and the attempts by some excellent thinkers at the other, to get to grips with and communicate the connectedness of issues in their opinion pieces. He might even find an idea or two.
I can see that he neither wants nor necessarily needs to read the relentless and often ridiculous ad hominem agenda – who would – but to not experience either the content or delivery of daily, general information as MSM reports and the public receives it, seems either naive or arrogant. It’s hardly as though every news story is about him, anyway, or Labour. At most, he can only claim to have a list of the topics under discussion. The rest is received narrative – doubled. ‘The gist’ of a matter. And gods help him and us if his aides have agendas and/or poor comprehension skills. He doesn’t know if the list is too short or too long. He doesn’t know the information the public is having to work with; the positioning of the public audience. He doesn’t know what we, the electorate, are being told to know nor how we are being directed to understand it. But, perhaps more importantly, he cannot, therefore, see the juxtaposition that is hindering rational debate and political progress:
1) If the mainstream is the main source of information on current events, which it seems to me, it still is, for the majority, how ill-served we are by the continual gaps in ‘fact’ and the distortion of bias. I get that he must already understand this intellectually but he needs to experience the details – walk with us, so to speak. And he most definitely needs to recognise just how unreliable the TV news has become. Then he may appreciate the level of confusion, the misplaced blame and the incredibly selective deafness in much of the country.
Which leads into 2) that for a great many, the mainstream is merely the base reference for the day’s reported events. I, for one, look to see what it wants me to know and then trundle off to a range of other sources, from the overtly gratuitous to the aspiringly objective, (if you can separate the dross, there are some truly wonderful thinkers ‘out there’) in order to try and better inform myself and have some confidence in my own opinions. If Ed realised how much time and effort it takes to be constantly untangling truth from all the nose-leading, he might have some deeper insight into the mix of impatience, despair and downright fury within a growing proportion of the electorate.
I’ve no doubt that Ed Miliband is a clever, decent man but if he wants us to give any credibility to the notion that he understands the People he wishes to serve, he could start with digesting the same crap we get. Who knows: he might even decide to adjust his strategy.
If he were really on “our side” he would not squander his opportunity. If he has a vision he should paint it big and bold. Go for broke: stop pandering; stop tinkering; be properly brave. If he cares about an ethical, sustainable human society, he should cut straight through all the Thatcheritis with a flaming broadsword; counter the inbred philosophy of neoliberalism, utterly and thump some tables; find some earthy passion. He rapidly needs to build a clear, whole picture narrative because, whatever the public does or does not understand, it certainly finds little reassurance in the current political climate and, regardless of whether Ed ultimately finds majority consensus, we, the People, deserve nothing less than leaders with real integrity who can offer clear choices. True Democracy demands it.
[Source: Buzzfeed http://www.buzzfeed.com/jimwaterson/ed-miliband-on-the-road – I’m sorry if the link fails. It keeps detaching so I think I must be doing something wrong. If it does, the original story is at Buzzfeed: ‘Ed Miliband: “It’s Important To Follow Your Own Path”’]