Friday, 22 April 2011

We can't get beyond the binary

What I find intriguing is the way in which the BBC still can't cope with the reality of Coalition politics.  As Liberal Democrats go back to their councils and prepare for obliteration the mere fact that they may be campaigning against the Tories is seen with the kind of slack-jawed wonderment that makes me wonder whether part of the qualification for punditry is to have all your brains sucked out through a straw.

This gets me back to my general gripe about the way in which the coverage of politics is centred around the UK Government, as if nothing else exists.  This is partly the consequence of a centralising state and the way in which Thatcher emasculated local government, but also laziness. The reality of power-sharing, even under adversarial electoral systems, is that parties have to work together at local level where no majority exists, and virtually every permuation exists from full-blown alliances to tacit agreement to keep one party out of influence.

The devolved nations have a different dynamic.  About the only decent analysis of Scotland I have seen was a thoughtful piece by Jackie Ashley in the "Guardian" last wekeend, and the potential for new alliances to emerge if the SNP can't continue.  My personal preference for anyone other than the Scottish Labour party (born out of experience, of both the Lab/Lib alliance and then the SNP minority government, before being taken up) is immaterial, but the realtiy is that Scottish politics have moved on since 1999 to the extent where the London-centric analysis doesn't work.

This tends to be ignored.  My current thesis is that this is a version of "marketing capture", based around the verbal tic I am trying to avoid of "narrative".  If you exclude the grubby compromises, the discussion and the electorate from the equation, you end up with a simple, contemptuous analysis that excludes all room for doubt.  It resembles Opus Dei run by Nathan Barley.  The BBC is meant to be a bit cleverer, but it fails dismally.

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