I was over in the House of Commons yesterday and bumped into three Labour MPs I have known for many years. Two of them were former Ministers –although not in the Cabinet – and all 3 have been around a long time. They had a laugh with me about the DCLG Select Committee which had taken place that day. I had, apparently, “been mauled by a kitten”, their words not mine. Shapps the thin half of the hilarious Laurel and Hardy duo at DCLG is continuing with his anal obsession about other people’s income by enquiring about the costs of the ‘Kemp operation!” I will deal with him in my next blog.
They then had a laugh about poor Vince. Well I could not begrudge them a giggle or two – Vince has not covered himself with glory. Then the conversation became more serious. “Of course”, said one ex-Minister wistfully about the Murdoch issue, “we didn’t have the guts to deal with Murdoch – quite the opposite”.
He was absolutely right. This was actually an understatement. Blair brown-nosed Murdoch. He bent over backwards to appease the man and the Labour Party and the Country suffered accordingly. Lib Dems have clean hands on this issue. We have long campaigned as a Party against domination of the airwaves by any one group or individual. We believe that the country needs competing media empires so that the public are given a range of views and opinions. 20 years after Pravda went out of fashion in Russia we do not want a UK version of Fox News the right wing American equivalent of Pravda over here. Vince, like a good Lib Dem, is sticking to his beliefs and wherever possible trying to get them into practice.
In America the media have too much power. They don’t report the news they try and make it and certainly exercise undue influence over the political agenda. Only with the backing of Fox News was Sarah Palin able to come from nowhere to get so close to being the VP of the USA. Only competing networks and foreign networks were able to expose her as the hill billy from Alaska that she clearly is.
We should not be too obsessed with this however. I believe that the blogosphere and the internet have now become too big and too much a part of too many people’s lives for it ever to be tamed by governments. That’s why I support Wikileaks in the way that it has revealed the workings of the US Government. If anyone is at fault here it’s not Wikileaks but the overpaid clown in the US administration who let state secrets be distributed to at least 250,000 people.
But the Vince affair has revealed another part of the Lib Dem DNA which is also shown in the revelations of the other Ministers. We are by nature none-hierarchical, open and transparent. Of course our MPs will give an honest view of what they think to people who honestly they honestly believe to be their constituents. Isn’t it sad that the headline for this affair should have been, “Shock horror – MP doesn’t lie to his constituents”.
My earnest hope is that the Lib Dems don’t change. If we act and behave like members of the other parties we might as well give up and join them. The day that I tell Nick Clegg what he wants to hear rather than what I think Nick ought to hear will be the day he sends for the psychiatrist to sort me out.
Lib Dems are what we are. We don’t tow the line; we fight for what we believe in. We practice what we preach. Long may we continue to do so and if we don’t that will be the day I leave. I wouldn’t go anywhere else – there’s nowhere else for me to go but fortunately I have no intention of leaving at all. The Lib Dems are my tribe, my mates, my political family and I am very comfortable with them all.