Deborah Coddington has lost the plot in her column cheeky MPs putting the I in spin which she concludes by saying:
Someone else does the brush strokes, chooses the colours, the MP signs the painting, all hell breaks loose. Someone else writes the sentences, chooses the adjectives and verbs, the MP signs the article.
What’s the difference?
The difference is that the signature on a painting is part of its provenance, which in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, says it’s the signatory’s work and that affects its value.
But MPs aren’t paid for opinion pieces and while their by-line shows it’s their thoughts we know it’s not necessarily all their words nor all their work because we all know they employ people to write for them.
There are two very good reasons for that – they have many more important things to do and they don’t necessarily write well.
The exception to this would be if a piece was supposed to be personal which is why I’ve always wondered about this tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary by Helen Clark in Mindfood.
It says it’s her recollection but rather than words from the heart of someone who knew the man, it’s an impersonal account of his life which could have been written by any journalist or historian.
If she wrote it, she did herself and Sir Ed a disservice, if she didn’t it shouldn’t have been portrayed as a personal tribute.
An opinon piece expressing a ministers’ views written by someone else is common and accepted practice. A personal tribute that isn’t personal, regardless of who wrote it, short changes the subject and the reader.