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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Trivial Pursuits

Tomos Livingstone details some of the trivial matters that have become the basic staple of every political journalist as they struggle to maintain the public's attention:

IT HAD been building up for some time.

Every day, anxious Westminster journalists would question Number 10 spokespeople about Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s plans to arrive unfashionably late in Lisbon, signing the EU Reform Treaty after every other leader had moved on.

“Every day I tell him [the PM] this is the main subject at the Lobby and he reacts with incredulity,” said Mr Brown’s spokesman on Tuesday.

With the document finally signed, on Thursday, you would think things would die down. But no. Yesterday, an eagle-eyed journalist spotted that every EU leader was wearing a smart new EU Treaty lapel badge. Everyone except Mr Brown, that is.

“I have absolutely no idea [why], and even if I did I would have no intention of answering that question,” said Mr Brown’s official spokesman.

“You are taking this rather trivial matter to absurd extremes.”

Little do they know that trivia is what political hacks really do best. Perhaps Downing Street should consult recent history for some examples.

Of course this sort of trivia is also what bloggers do best. We follow with forensic fascination every detail of the disappearance of Humphrey the cat from 10 Downing Street, President Chirac's dislike of British food, Rhodri Morgan's travelling shoes and the infamous motion about which AM should sit where together with its 801 amendments.

Where we are different is that we do not have the same restraints as journalists and every now and again we manage to blow such events out of all proportion. Even more so than the media.
At the same time there has been a consistent tendancy in the Brown government to dismiss anything which might cause it discomfort. There seems to be a persistent belief that if they simply don't treat it as an issue that it will cease being an issue.

The problem with the way Brown's team have handled the EU Treaty issue is that they've been far from decisive or determined. Brown appears reluctant to openly approve of the treaty yet unable to withdraw. In an ideal world our PM would be decided and stand by his conviction, one way or the other.

A Swansea Blog
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