Thursday 27 November 2008

Rush to judgement

There was a discussion on the Today programme this morning of the new book 'No Time to Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-Hour News Cycle' by Howard Rosenberg and Charles S Feldman. And how much more true that is of our own dear blogosphere.

The news that shadow immigration minister Damien Green was arrested broke about two hours ago. Very little information seems to be available yet.

The Conservatives are indignant. It might turn out that have every right to be. (They may know more about the rest of us about the events of the day). (Iain Dale is already quoting Martin Niemoller and campaigning for the Ashford One, though he also mentions the perils of commenting on a live story).

For now, those of us relying on publicly available information just don't know enough about it to judge. There doesn't yet seem to be any information from the police. The BBC 10 o'clock news report didn't cast much light on this.

My view is that it would be depressing and wrong if Labour, LibDem and civil society voices just jumped into a partisan response (as the first celebratory post on LabourHome has done) without bothering to find out some of the facts. The issues involved could turn out to be too important for that.

But, in the interests of being even-handed, if John Pienaar's report is correct, that the government and 10 Downing Street first found out about this afternoon's arrest tonight, then I hope the Conservative frontbench will apologise for immediately reaching for the term 'Stalinesque'. That can only be interpreted as the first thought being how to spin a personal attack on the Prime Minister. It isn't a description of policing. And anyone who knows some history might consider trying to use that term as carefully as Nazi or fascist ought to be used. There are plenty of other political insults available for 'punch and judy' knockabout politics without making a joke out of totalitarian mass murder.

So perhaps that might be better left to the unauthorised Tory attack dog Guido Fawkes rather than Her Majesty's Official Opposition (Guido immediately ran a Brown and Mugabe graphic which still appears in my Google Reader, yet now seems to have removed it).

Beyond that call for the occasional moment of reflection, when we all know something about this - tomorrow, or through the weekend - that might be the time to sound off and let you know what I think.

Once I have had a chance to think about it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Boris knew. Therefore the government knew. The government allowed/ordered a shadow minister to be arrested. Diane Abbot agrees.