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Leveson, and why the public do care

Musa Okwonga

146243565 216x300 Leveson, and why the public do careI was reading a piece by Paul Goodman on the Leveson Inquiry, when one particular line leapt out at me.  It came at the very end, almost as an afterthought.

“P.S.”, it read, “I may write later about the rest of the Prime Minister’s appearance in front of the inquiry that very few people outside the Westminster Village have the slightest interest in.”

There it was again.  The assumption that I have seen from so many politicians and media commentators that almost no-one outside the political world cares about what is happening at the Leveson inquiry.  I think that this assumption is wrong.  Worse than that, it is staggeringly, appallingly, dangerously wrong.

I have never known people to care more acutely or passionately about the way in which our country is being governed.  I suspect that Mr. Goodman and his peers have drawn this conclusion of Leveson mass apathy from polling figures, from low electoral turnouts.  If so, they would be in error.  Public anger is intangible – but palpable – over such matters.  I see the fury over Leveson all over my Twitter timeline, as people from both Left and Right converge to voice their disbelief at the manner in which the reins of power are allegedly being passed between the hands of a chosen few.

I write this piece with something like rage at the failure of Westminster to understand just how badly this is playing out among the general public. I don’t actually think that most people are baying for blood, for the head of Jeremy Hunt as some symbolic gesture.  I actually think that most people would just like feel that they are being governed with an appropriate amount of checks and balances.

I think that many if not most people are angry that the NHS is apparently on its way to dissolution and there was very little if anything that they could do about it.  I think they are angry that tuition fees are rocketing north and jobs are so thin on the ground that they’re having to scrabble for the chicken feed offered by the welfare state.  I think that Leveson is a very important symbol, because at a time when many people in the UK have been brought financially to their knees there is the uncomfortable and unfortunate image of an elite deflecting and sometimes even smiling on the stand, blithely oblivious to the damage that they are doing with their conveniently collective failure of memory.  Leveson is a metaphor, the same metaphor that we saw at the outset of the riots last summer: it is the hard, unyielding face of Establishment denial.

The anger at metaphors like Leveson is there, all right; it’s just not there in the places that Mr. Goodman and his peers are looking for it.  It’s not primarily in the polling booths, or in the spreadsheets predicting which way votes will go in marginal seats.  It is in the lyrics of grime artists, in the classes that I take in East London schools, in the Tumblr accounts of people like Aaron John Peters, in the feet of the kettled marchers, in the words of writers like Luke Turner at the Quietus.

The greatest mistake that politicians can ever make is to think that, just because they may be re-elected with ever-lower numbers of votes, they have somehow “got away” with Leveson.  After all, as perhaps the sharpest commentator has noted, people register their discontent with this type of metaphor in far less sophisticated ways than tactical voting.

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  • http://twitter.com/jimbillinski jim billinski

    i too am sick of hearing mps saying that sentence,, the public better be paying close attention to this inquiry coz its the single most important thing that needs to addressed at the minute. The future of democracy hangs in the balance.. And if cameron rejects levesons proposals, not only does it reveal more corruption, it also puts the final nail in the coffin of democracy

  • shinyroundbauble

    Think the greatest failing Britain ever made was to allow politicians to govern us or fall in love with ideology

  • trottitout

    It shows just how removed from the understanding of the public the press is. Utterly wrong. Our democracy was suborned and this is their response? Pathetic. No wonder Murdoch had such an easy time of it. All in it together.

  • Roger Rederer

    And your point is? Oh yeah I geddit, a party political one. Blair, Brown and Camoron are all right-wing politicians who were nurtured by the Dirty Digger. To suggest that “socialists” were seduced by Rupe is disingenuous.
    Indeed, there is one Socialist ex-MP in Scotland who awaits the trial, on charges of perjury, of a certain Andy Coulson with eager anticipation.
    If lines are to be drawn here, it seems quite clear that those who wish to see NI and the Murdoch, Wade axis of evil punished for their crimes are mostly to the Left of the political spectrum. Those who are whingeing that “no purpose will be served and it’s a waste of money” seem to be those who have hitherto been happy to live in a dumbed-down Scum reading society that perpetuates this right-wing dishonesty.

  • blackfirscharlie

    We care a great deal after having seen the lid lifted off to reveal the unedifying stench of venality and corruption practised by those who are at the reins of government being so easily manipulated by the City of London and the corporate media at its worst in collusion with elements of the police. It is a sad reminder of how our society is led by amoral scum whose only motivation is profit.

  • RolftheGanger

    Only structural change will force a radical redesign of the Westminster system. The best prospect for that restructuring is the dissolution of the Union in 2014 following the referendum in Scotland.
    Reshaping the constitution to deal with governing EWNI once Scotland has withdrawn wil force a return to square one. That is if the old regime is not allowed to ’steal the revolution’ as Mubarak’s henchmen are busy doing to Egypt.

    So, mobilise, organise ,don’t trust the established major parties. Start your own and keep a tight grip on who you elect to speak for you.

  • http://twitter.com/jamartinque Jaque Martin

    Sure, I fume but my brother and my sister prefer to watch strictly. Nothing I say can raise their interest. And thus we are f***d. Excuse my French.

  • Farweasel

    Maybe a cross between whistling in the dark & Freudian projection:

    The politicians so desperately hope no one cares about their venality they begin to convince each other its true that we don’t care?

    It wouldn’t be too difficult to reinforce the delusion either if you’re selective who you ask:
    A large proportion of the population could tell you a lot about ‘The only way’s Essex’ or England’s prospects in Ukraine but might wonder if Leveson’s the new announcer for the daytime news.

  • frankie2dogs

    I am looking in my crystal ball, i see a big party the murdocks have got b sky b. All of those concerned have been proved innocent and have gone horse rideing, the british public will have to apologise and pay all the costs.


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