Farce of Nature

Within the next week, Boris will be promulgating his grand design to wean us off off his lockdown boob. I only wish that he’d put the same level of contemplation into the decision that made suckers of us all. And that those who are getting so bent out of shape right now had exercised their rights of opposition when it mattered.

Once again, facts warrant a premium only in disaster recovery mode. We can only lament that bigwigs had not afforded them the once-over before the great leap into the abyss.

Keir Starmer (or is that Steer Calmer?) has now set out his stall for opposition. It’s a cunning two-parter: a clever fusion of invisibility and fulsome praise for the government, which should bemuse and confound anybody schooled in the adversarial tradition. He might as well be leading the Liberal Democrats.

Consequently, democracy is in lockdown with formal opposition effectively furloughed. But don’t be fooled into the popular new line that prominent journalists are ‘holding the government to account’. They’re on an entirely different caper.

Many had been latching onto the Government’s target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April. They’d spent a whole calendar month tracking it to the nth degree. As the month had progressed, there had been some jockeying around the definition of ’test’: did this mean tests completed, analysed, or organised? It turned out that they had hit 73,000 completed tests by the month-end but had claimed a number of 122,347. This had included the 50,000 kits that had been mailed/distributed though may not have been completed and returned.

This was instantly labelled an abject failure, but the shrill sensationalists had missed the salient point about these numbers. The target had been a key performance indicator (KPI) to track progress to an end goal (victory over the clever and formidable enemy, COVID-19), not an end in itself. Whether 73,000 or 122,000, it had been welcome progress from the initial daily total of under 12,000 tests. If the daily target had equated to success/failure of the whole battle, it would have been a big deal. It hadn’t, and it wasn’t.

This is classic sub-tabloid sensationalism via a new channel, social media. It’s instant, far-reaching, and eminently more dangerous than the days of Fleet Street. Such determined focus on superficial numbers and the obsessive adhesion to the argumentation surrounding them reflects a farce that has become second nature to the post-fact world.

When debating issues, many either totally swerve facts or opt for a wholly different argument. Usually, one that is easier to grasp – like one-dimensional number-tracking rather than bringing together all the holistic data and detail for some complex analysis. The masses prefer it that way, of course, as do most of the journos. Once a story takes off and, very few track back to check the logic.

It is a proxy war of sorts. As long as they get to gain ground or take down their enemy, any route will do. The end justifies the means.

It’s certainly not ‘holding the Government to account‘. It’s another flavour of the same old emotion-laden arguments to which we’ve become accustomed. The quack hacks take anything onto which they can hang their hat and conflate this with maximum fear. There are certainly many policy points on which to scrutinise a government that has largely had a shocker. Yet these are remaining unchallenged. That’s the real tragedy of the current debacle.

The government isn’t wholly daft though. Just incompetent in issues of, erm, government. On matters scurrilous, they are veritable players. Olympic gold medallists of the Ben Johnson stable. And many of them were top-notch media scuzzballs themselves. So they have their own defence mechanism to mitigate media heat of this kind. That’s why they’re putting up all these junior ministers, unbriefed, onto the kitsch TV shows so that all the pisspoor reporters can tear them apart on obscure points of marginal importance. It’s a distraction tactic – pure cannon fodder.

And it carves open the path to a helpful backstop bonus. The media pack might overplay their hand with luridness, and the Government – once they’ve got their own act together – might later emerge as the voice of reason.

In the meantime, the sensationalists proceed to share and recirculate any subsequent articles that praise them, reflecting the less than virtuous circle of content-generated self-promotion and audience growth. That’s good news for them and for their paymasters. The Government simply stalls and buys time to sort out the escalating mess.

They almost deserve each other.

Cheap, shoddy, rag-journo shenanigans, all paid for by gazillionaire media moguls with alternative agendas. Second-rate politicians who have floated to the top of the pan and who care for nothing but avoiding a terminal flush.

A battle for money, power, and influence via grotesque sub-plots on the most simplistic terms. Where potentially able protagonists abandon their skills and expertise simply to win at all costs at the expense of all others.

It’s a farce of nature.

unsplash-logoNoralí Emilio

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