A sad day for parliamentary democracy

Picture of Vince Cable from WikipediaLast night a set of “scandals” broke in which various senior Lib Dem politicians made statements which were not conducive to the love-in between their party and the Tories which has caused so much upset as they have ditched one of their policies and election promises after another. Among them was Vince Cable (right), who told two women who were posing as constituents, but were actually undercover reporters from the Daily Telegraph, that he had “declared war” on Rupert Murdoch, who has been trying to acquire the whole of BSkyB which is the main satellite TV operator in the UK.

I have nothing against undercover journalists per se — of course, exposing wrongdoing is important, but this was not a matter of exposing wrongdoing but rather manufacturing a story. The bond between an MP and his constituents is supposed to be the cornerstone of our electoral system, and is supposedly the reason why it is superior to proportional voting systems involving multi-member constituencies. Whether the two women really were constituents as well as reporters is immaterial; they may deter any MP with a ministerial post or ministerial ambitions from holding surgeries for fear that anything he says may be used against him. Perhaps some may stop holding them, or demand proof that the attendees are actually constituents.

Because of this false scandal, yet another thing those who voted Lib Dem hoped they might achieve — restraining the power of the less-than-a-handful of media barons who regularly hold the government (regardless of which party is in power) to ransom — slips away. Of course, Murdoch is a competitor to the Telegraph, but it hardly matters; the right-wing corporate press is that much more powerful. One must ask what political designs motivate the Telegraph, a historically Tory paper, to post this; perhaps they intend to force the coalition apart, forcing an election which might cause the Lib Dem vote to collapse.

Image source: Wikipedia.

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