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Monday, January 16, 2006

Living in the bubble

It is often commented what a small place Wales is. In the Assembly we feel it especially, simply because everything we do is scrutinised in minute detail. Issues that would not raise an eyelid in Westminster are major headline news in Cardiff Bay. It is like living in a transparent bubble.

Do not get me wrong, I am not complaining. Instead, I trying to make a wider point, namely that this sort of introspection (some would call it media incest) can also work against those who propagate it. Politicians and journalists can develop tunnel-vision, so that they fail to see what is going on across the border other than in Welsh terms.

There is a perfect example of this phenomenon in today's Western Mail. In a piece on Ruth Kelly's sex offenders crisis the journalist claims that Monmouth MP, David Davies is the first MP to call for the UK Education Minister to resign. Yet that privilege already rests with former Tory leader, Michael Howard, as is made clear in this Guardian article.

It is possible of course that David is the first MP to call on Kim Howells to resign, or to link that call for a demand for Ruth Kelly's head, but now we are getting into the realms of trivia. After all David may have been an Assembly Member for six years but in UK terms he is still a novice MP with no front bench responsibilities. Outside of Wales his views, no matter how legitimate, would not merit a single line in a national newspaper. Such are the news values we live by.

Update: On re-reading this I think it is entirely possible that I have been unfair. After all both David Davies and the journalist are just doing their job. It is just that sometimes calling for resignation can be lazy politics and in this case, as wrong as Ruth Kelly's decision and the system she operates is, I think that this is the case.
Michael Howard is not a "former Tory MP". He is still an MP, and was the first to call for RK's resignation.

David Davies has jumped on yet another bandwagon.
Oops, have now changed that to what I meant to say which was 'former Tory leader'.
I hope we're not entering yet another moral panic about paedophiles. Where an offence can actually be proved is one thing, but it's a bit harsh to deprive someone of their livelihood on the basis of nothing more than rumour and anonymous denunciation.

The silence from Liberty over the past week has been deafening!
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