Parliamentary sketch – Polls apart

Posted on: 8th March 2013

So, the general public aren’t told what to think by the big press barons…

The recent Liberal Democrat victory at the Eastleigh by-election was never really in the script. It was against all odds.
Having fallen to a low point in the opinion polls, the Liberal Democrats had a difficult election forced on them in the most challenging of circumstances and then found themselves dominating the front pages of the big newspapers with the most negative of news stories. The script had the Party making further front page news as they were supposed to be crushed in Eastleigh. But instead they were victorious. Confounded critics have of course attempted to dismiss the result in derisory terms.
Winning difficult by-elections is not something Governing parties are supposed to do during the mid term, especially not the smaller of the two parties in a Coalition Government. But the Liberal Democrats seemed to ignore that script.
The negative media onslaught during the last week was a fascinating, text book example of how papers with a (in this case a pro-Tory) agenda advance their case. The front page dominance with the Lord Rennard harassment story (inexcusable if true of course) couldn’t have been better timed to undermine the Liberal Democrat campaign through the crucial last week of the by-election.
The rest of the media have this remarkable ability to adopt the countenance of slavish lemmings, as they feel obliged to report the story; giving it credence because “it’s in the news”! And so the story kept going.
But perhaps it was merely a coincidence that the story should suddenly and completely disappear from the news altogether after polls closed in Eastleigh on Thursday evening?! I rest my case…
Meanwhile MPs are being asked about Bankers who seem to be rewarded for failure. And then my own Health Select Committee interviewed the NHS Chief, Sir David Nicholson; we asked if he should keep his job after presiding during the Mid Staffs Hospital scandal? The new campaign for Sir David’s head has become as shrill as the reporting of The Lord Rennard allegations. Hardly the sound basis on which to invite Parliamentarians to come to calm and measured judgement.

Maybe he should resign (and maybe not?), but what the MPs on the Health Select Committee should do now is show that they are capable of coming to their own judgement – without being either seduced or bullied by campaigning media pressure – just as did the general public in Eastleigh.


Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Kwartron Porthia
Constituency of St Ives


7th March 2013


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