Decency and Principle

Listen up, as they say.

Here is an extract from the recent interview with Justine Miliband, wife perhaps of the next Prime Minister.

‘Ive thought about this and I think it’s going to get worse, I think over the next couple of months it’s going to get really vicious, really personal, but I’m totally up for this fight and I’ve thought about the reason why and the reason is because I think this goes way beyond Ed as an individual, I think it’s about whether decency and principle count for something in political life, wherever you are on the political spectrum, and so it’s not just about Ed, but it’s about every single politician who tries to do the right thing, despite the personal attacks and I think it’s incredibly important that this country, political life in this country stays open to decent, principled people, so if you ask me why I’m up for a fight, I’m fighting not only for Ed, but I’m fighting for a principle of decency in public life.’

Now insofar as it matters, I have never met Mrs Miliband and I am not a member of any political party. But what she says will chime with every elector who despises personal attacks and fears a very dirty campaign. Democracy will the loser and millions of younger voters will be even more disillusioned.

So how can this be countered?

Well the process exists to complain, whatever the present understandable sceptisism.

But what about a systematic approach to every cheap and nasty newspaper personal jibe in the next two months?  

Report the lot. Every single personal attack, regardless of party. Thousands of instant complaints.

AA Gill foresaw recently what will happen to UKIP, for whom, incidentally, I can never see myself voting. They will be traduced systematically. So probably Alec Salmon will be, altough he can ceratinly look after himself. And above all, so Ed Miliband will be. The politics of the gutter.

I find it truly shocking and I know I am not alone.

So this is the moment to strike back. The democratic way. Is there a bette one if you believe in decency and principle?

Nigel Pascoe QC

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A Hiding to Nothing

David Cameron, so it is said, never wanted a one to one face to face debate with Ed Miliband. Too much at stake. The possibility that the hapless figure characterised by some sections of press and party may turn out to be rather more persuasive and likeable. So nothing to be gained by giving him the chance to improve.

If that indeed were the motivation of the Prime Minister and his advisors, it would do them no credit. It would be a cynical calculation which would demean democracy. But if that were so, let the damage fall where public opinion believes it should lie. What cannot be done is an assertion of broadcaster power to seek to force his hand.

The Prime Minister, whatever his motives, has the absolute right to refuse to take part in any debate or interview he wishes. His high office is not to be undermined by crude pressure.
The broadcasters should consider the limits of their powers. The sooner they realize this, the better for democracy. One agreed joint debate is better than none at all.

I cannot see how the broadcasters can win or the PM change his mind. The sooner a graceful withdrawal is made by the broadcasters the better.

Nigel Pascoe QC