It's all the fault of the media

WHOSE fault is it that Blair cronies Stephen Byers, Peter Mandelson, and David Blunkett have all had to quit the Government? Who dared expose the “sexing up” of a document purporting to show that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction?And who is to blame for David Davis being consigned to the position of also ran in the Conservative leadership contest when he started off as odds-on favourite?You've guessed it - the wicked, manipulative, malevolent media.

WHOSE fault is it that Blair cronies Stephen Byers, Peter Mandelson, and David Blunkett have all had to quit the Government? Who dared expose the “sexing up” of a document purporting to show that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction?

And who is to blame for David Davis being consigned to the position of also ran in the Conservative leadership contest when he started off as odds-on favourite?

You've guessed it - the wicked, manipulative, malevolent media.

When politicians are at bay, they lash out at journalists and broadcasters rather that recognising the simple truth that it is entirely their own fault.


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During the Conservative years of sleaze, the media was roundly condemned for pointing out the shortcoming of our elected representatives when it was John Major's “back to basics” strategy which was not being followed by his MPs and ministers.

Journalists didn't ask the late Stephen Milligan to engage in auto-erotic practices involving asphyxiation which led to the death. No newspaper encouraged David Mellor to don a Chelsea football shirt to have sex with his mistress. Cash for questions may have been a set-up, but the MPs involved did not have to accept brown paper envelopes.

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During the decline and fall of John Major's government, Labour MPs led by Tony Blair sat on the sidelining revelling in the embarrassment of the Prime Minister and his discredited Conservative government.

But once in power, the headlines surrounding the private and public lives of key New Labour figures have been just as lurid as in the Tory years.

The Prime Minister and his wife are constantly in the firing line for accepting free holidays and gifts. Cabinet ministers have been forced out of office after revelations have been ratcheted up by the print and broadcast media.

Now the Prime Minister's judgement is being questioned seriously. It just about survived the Mandelson fiascos, but just why did he return David Blunkett to office five months after resigning as Home Secretary for admitting the fast-track of a visa for his married lover's nanny and for giving that lover a first class rail ticket at the expense of the taxpayers?

The real reason for his unblinkered devotion is that Blunkett was one of the few out-riders left in the Blair administration ready to carry out the Prime Minister's agenda of reform.

But during his five months out of office, Blunkett broke the ministerial code of conduct not once but three times by accepting outside jobs. It beggars belief that after owning up to three flagrant breaches of the code, Blunkett was not sacked straight away.

Instead we were treated to a whingeing cacophony that Blunkett had nothing wrong and that lies and innuendoes had been spread by the media and the Tories about his business and private life.

By allowing Blunkett to cling onto office during the early part of the week, the Prime Minister was sending out the signal that New Labour politicians were allowed to break the rules.

Just as John Major always stuck by his wayward ministers, so Tony Blair has the same mote in his eye.

It all adds to the feeling the Prime Minister's judgement is faulty. He's becoming a lame duck leader - having announced he intends to give up the leadership before the next election, the pressure is now on for him to go sooner rather than later.

Some of his Cabinet is in open in open revolt over his education reforms, there's been a major ministerial split over the ban on smoking in public places, there are continued rumblings among Labour MPs against his wider welfare, and his majority was cut to just one in a Commons vote on anti-terror laws.

And many on the Labour benches fear that the Tories might actually choose a winner in David Cameron. Which brings us to the David Davis camp, blaming the media for affecting the course of the leadership election by collectively portraying David Davis's speech in Blackpool and over egging Mr Cameron's performance.

As the Prime Minister told his Cabinet yesterday: Times are tough.

THE two Davids are in East Anglia next week as voting opens to find a successor to Conservative leader Michael Howard.

After visiting Newmarket on Tuesday to support health campaigners protesting against hospital closures, David Davis will take part in a question-and-answer session with Tory Party members at the Norwich Airport Holiday Inn at 7pm.

David Cameron will address a rally of Essex Conservatives on Thursday at Hutton Manor School in Hutton near Brentwood, starting at 5.45pm.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“He goes, in my view, with no stain of impropriety against him whatever”- Tony Blair after David Blunkett quit the Government for breaching three times the ministerial code of conduct.

“You might say that we should have foreseen this but the way it was used . . . coachloads of children arriving in their swimming trunks, when there was a lido very near by . . . was not what had been envisaged for a place of contemplation and enjoyment” - Department for Culture Media and Sport permanent secretary Dame Sue Street replying to Tory MP Richard Bacon who said the way the Diana memorial fountain in Kensington Garden had been managed was a “balls up” when the surrounding grasslands had become little more than a quagmire.

“We can either join the ranks of centre right parties around the world, such as the Republicans in the United States and the Liberals in Australia, which have won by cutting taxes. Or we can remain frozen in the headlights of a centre left agenda, and continue to lose” - Tory leadership contender David Davis after promising to make billions of tax cuts if eventually he became Prime Minister.

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