Monday, October 10, 2005

Should Media Choose Our Leader?

Under the headline "Davis attacks 'charlatan' rivals", this morning's Times says:

"THE gloves came off in the Conservative leadership race yesterday as David Davis launched a thinly veiled attack on the appeal to “image politics” of his chief rival David Cameron.
He accused Mr Cameron of trying to ape Tony Blair and claimed that such an approach would be rapidly rejected by the electorate. Such politics, he said, was for “charlatans”.

Mr Davis said: “I think if another politician comes along and tries to do a me too on Blair — I’m a nice guy, I’m the straight kind of guy you elected . . . that’s wearing out and I think if people try to replicate that then people will just say — there’s another cynical politician.”

Now I'm a naive kind of guy, and my rection was frankly negative. Accusing that nice Mr C of being a charlatan is really not going to help us at all. Plus it breaks Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment.

So, sighing heavily, I played yesterday's Politics Show, from which the quotes were taken. And guess what. Davis never accused DC of being a charlatan at all.

In reality, he was responding to a sequence of pressure questions about why he himself didn't emote more:

"Do you understand how important the media sees such things?"

Very calmly, Davis replies:

"One of the great weaknesses of Blair is when people feel he's faking it...what I'd rather not do is to go into a lot of charlatanry."

Amazingly, it seems he'd rather talk about the issues.

Which brings us back to the question of whether the media should pick our next leader? As we've posted before, it was very clear who the media were backing in Blackpool. And today's Times story shows they've now taken the gloves off. Out of context quotes, unattributed quotes, dodgy focus groups...we can expect the full arsenal to be deployed.

Forget for a moment who you personally would like to see as leader. Just ask yourself whether the media will still be there for us if we pick a leader who has problems doing the actual job. I think we know the answer.

Somehow, we've got to look through the media noise and take a view through to the next election. Substance, not instant celebrity.


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