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The other day, I was just about to turn off the news. Stop. Go cold Turkey and not bother with any more news but the parliamentary committee had other plans and they were going to pull me back in.
Do you ever get the feeling that it’s all a bit too much news? This is the time I wish I watched reality tv because I’d have an outlet, but there comes a time where the news is detrimental to your mental health… I mean we all know this and yet, yet. We cannot turn away.
The latest saga with the parliamentary privileges committee and its war with one Boris Johnson and now by extension his band of followers, is such a time when turning off the news was simply not an option. I have been a part of this matter from its onset. From when we thought it was just another news issue that would not cut through. It was simply a journalist filing a story about a matter that happened a while back. And then boom… it slowly maybe not so slowly became a thing and like the news junky I am I got sucked in. I love politics, it’s sagas and the beast it creates and makes of us all. It is the real animal farm, the war of the roses and whatever well-worn phrase one would attribute to it and this latest saga with Boris Johnson is for now the biggest and baddest scandal to hit a politician this side of the pond.
Reader, there’s blood on the dance floor and no one is coming out alive.
When Pippa Crearer of the Mirror, at the time, started this trail I thought it was a bit a go, what would it matter. I was prepared to tune it out but as the reporting gathered moss rolling on, it was such a thing that I could not turn off right to the outcome of the committee. The Parliamentary Privileges Committee in its investigation and report into Boris Johnson’s Partygate, as this is now come to be known, did find that Boris Johnson was in contempt of Parliament and recommended suspension for a period of 90 days. Boris Johnson on receipt of a preview of the report, resigned in protest immediately triggering a by election; any suspension over ten days is grounds for a recall election. This is the second longest sentence that has been handed to an MP.
There has been a feeding frenzy of late in the news, with experts on all the sides giving their own opinions and this is when it gets newsy. Like a car crash we want to look away, but we simply cannot. We simply must not, because much as it is, these things matter. These stories are a big deal it’s bigger than cake and wine and a few gatherings in 10 Downing Street that did not mirror the hard yards meted out on the public at the height of the pandemic; this was more than that. It was loved ones who couldn’t say their goodbye to relatives in hospital because of the government’s laws that they, the government, were not even following. It is about the pains of people left behind, it is about the wider political sphere and why it matters that law makers should not be law breakers.
You know, if politicians would just come out and say this shit is hard. Governing you lot is not easy. We fuck up. A lot. You know, I would have sympathy for them, but we are in an age when there is a crippling cost of living crisis. Mortgage rates are excruciatingly high, some people are afraid to turn on the lights, other don’t know where they’ll get their next meal. Some are afraid to leave their homes. None of this is funny though some still think it is, that it’s all fluff over a piece of cake and Diet Coke but it’s more than that. It is about trust. A fundamental tenement of the British Parliament. It’s about that quintessential honourable agreement between peers that they take you at your word. With the public that they trust you have their best interest at heart when you say hands face space and mean it. It’s about ensuring that we do not lose the values we base society on. And with this iteration of governance that trust is not only fractured, it is shattered to pieces and has no way back without complete change
And this is why, journalism and journalists matter; they are the window through which the public holds the government to account, and we cannot have a government in bed with a sycophantic press. The government is not some boy band that expects the public to fawn over it and through the press we hold them accountable. Much of the British media is a bit shit but there are corners that simply get on with the job without any noise. It’s hard yards and graft. Research based on facts. Opinion journalism is quite nonsensical, and I have no time for opinions in matters of fact. Matter of fact political journalism should only be based on fact not opinions. If we have a failed fourth estate, we have no functioning systems and institutions in society, and this is why switching off really isn’t an option.
This is more than just cake, democracy is at stake and this shit matters a hell of a lot.