Journalists have a huge burden to carry. The overwhelming majority of people will have their views on current events shaped by the magnitude of news programmes, newspapers, magazines, websites and even some – more highbrow – blogs.
So I was particularly dissapointed to read Quentin Letts’ column in the Daily Mail yesterday. Anyone who listened to Wednesday’s debate on expense – of which I was one, due to the absence of cricket – will realise that Mr. Letts has brutally over-exagerated all the business surrounding expenses. He criticises Ann Widdecombe who only said that the media had been playing games with the public over the issue. That’s quite right. The John Lewis list does not exist, and never has, yet the media insist on reporting that MPs have all their furniture paid for from a selection at John Lewis. It’s simply untrue, as Lynne Jones MP (selly oak) pointed out, that she was reimbursed for a very cheap iron bought in Kings Heath. The only expense, in that category, she had asked for since her election in 1992.
If this is the quality of political journalism in our nation’s tabloids – no wonder turnouts are so low and no wonder voter confidence in politics is so strained. I expect the likes of BUCF and Praguetory will support Quentin, but I just think it’s such a shame that we thinks it justified to patronise normal hard-working people in this way.