Crossing the line

It is the Opposition’s job to hold the government to account.

The best way to do that is by intelligent criticism of policy and the promotion of viable alternatives.

The easiest way to do it is through personal attacks . But dirty politics is dangerous politics because mud slung usually spatters the slinger too.

Pete George raises this in a post entitled Labour’s Mallardy, Parliament’s Malady:

. . . Political mudslinging is also a major turnoff for a lot of the population outside the political bubbles, and I believe is a significant factor in increasing levels of public apathy towards politics and parliament. Politicians as a group are generally not respected – for good reason.

Most MPs go into parliament with the aim of doing good for the country. Most give it their best shot. Some MPs give the whole group a gutter level reputation through the use of gutter tactics. . .

Most MPs do not deserve the low opinion many hold of them. Unfortunately their business as usual isn’t usually news and we rarely see them doing the bread and butter work of helping constituents and running the country.

In a comment on my previous post, Johnsonmike wrote:

. . . I believe that the massive dumbing down of the media and its obsession with tawdry minor scandals, beat-up crime scares and celebrity mindlessness has brought us to the state of turn-off with politics we are now at. . .

Just as it’s easy politics to attack the person, it’s easy copy for journalists to dwell on the side shows.

There is a line between justifiable criticism and personal attacks. Those who cross it not only find themselves covered in muck, they can find that the public’s sense of fair play is aroused and that interest in the attack changes to sympathy for the attacked.

Hat tip:  Keeping Stock:


2 Responses to Crossing the line

  1. […] elephanatidae in the room « Your NZ on Labour’s Mallardy, Parliament’s maladyCrossing the line « Homepaddock on Labour’s Mallardy, Parliament’s maladyPete George on Labour’s Mallardy, […]


  2. johnsonmike says:

    It is the Opposition’s job to hold the government to account.
    The best way to do that is by intelligent criticism of policy and the promotion of viable alternatives.

    I think the point I was making earlier (thanks for quoting from my comment) was that our present state of affairs is largely due to the media obsession with scandal, crime and celebrity.

    MPs, especially Oppposition ones, can no longer get any publicity by critiquing policy and suggesting alternatives. They only get into the news by shouting “scandal,” when there is not one.

    Even Government ministers rarely get into the news today through policies… many of the media stories about them are because of some imagined scandal or because of OTT criticism of them.

    This is not just happening here. The media throughout the English-speaking world and in many non-English speaking Western countries are undermining public participation in democratic processes by their race to the bottom of dreary Masterchefs and the like.


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