My TV viewing habits have changed beyond recognition in the past couple of years. I used to watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I liked trash telly cos its stops you thinking, and I didn’t much like thinking too hard about anything. I think it’s because i felt powerless to change anything for the better.
I still don’t know if anything will change, but I have the hope and the will to try now, and maybe that’s why I haven’t watched the Kardashians in years. I only ever watch On Demand TV, and bar things like QI, Better Call Saul and UK Comedy (currently Man Down is my favorite, although it would have been sooooooo much better if Rik Mayall hadn’t died), it’s pretty much all political. I watch Prime Ministers Questions, Question Time, as much of the Sunday Politics shows as I can, The Daily Politics. I watch documentaries. I watch Have I Got News and I fucking love The Last Leg.
I’m a bit worried cos my political viewing is a bit BBC heavy, due to the fact that their app is by far the best for On Demand. That said, I am quite conscious about trying to keep a fair scope of all aspects of the media. I even follow Guido Fawkes and various terrible mainstream news providers. I try to keep some semblance of balance.
One of the things that used to frustrate me when trying to follow the political news of the day, is the fact that the parties seem to make completely opposing statements of fact. I thought it must be a media bias thing, and reasoned if i followed the dialogue at source, by watching the commons debates, I would be able to by-pass this and see the real points made and how the arguments stack up. I was really pissed off to discover that this is not the case, and the exact same contradictory narrative regarding the state of the country seems to play out not just in the media, but also in the debates had by the people running our country.
You’ll get an opposition MP say something along the lines of ‘there’s a crisis in such-and-such a sector, this many people are homeless/jobless/sick etc because of it and your policy of such-and-such is directly contributing to it’ and the government will answer something along the lines of ‘ Actually we have done this, this and this to improve the situation, which is now a billion times better than it ever has been thanks to us. ‘
I don’t know exactly how to combat this problem of contradictory information but I want to make the most informed choices about how to vote, what issues matter enough to campaign for, and what I should be talking about within my community, and so I try to get as much information as I can from as many sources as I can. In particular, there are charities like Full Fact, or current affairs programs that seem to uncover the truth behind statistics, like Radio 4’s More or Less. I try to look to independent organisations that work with real people in fields that political issues focus on, such as Shelter, The Trussell Trust, Citizens Advice and various environment, children’s and other charities that commission studies into the real-life effects of government policy (but always check who writes the cheque!). I try to gauge public opinion on forums (although this is a bit dodgy as the comment contributor demographic is always narrow) and by following independent news sources, other bloggers and activists (recommended follows: Another Angry Voice, The Mama Bear Effect, Peter Stefanovic Dr Bob Gill, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, Ani DiFranco, Michael Moore, The Flobots). If there’s a story dominating the news I’ll check the right wing perspective and not my lefty usual suspects.
I’m not convinced all this helps….I am still bewildered most of the time. At least when people suggest that my views are a consequence of my youth (ha!) or ignorance, despite rarely saying so, I know that I try to be informed (I even read more than the highlights of the 2 main manifestos and the highlights from the Libs and Greens, barrel of laughs that I am). This happens a lot, it is the go-to strategy for people who have been convinced by the anti-Corbyn propaganda enough to want to tell me to get back in my box, but don’t know enough about the issues to tell me in any other way. To give you an example of the levels of misinformation I’m talking about, on a pro-Corbyn post I made, one such person commented ‘No thank you, not another Blair!’
Often when I see the MP’s contradicting each other and seemingly talking about completely different worlds, I’ll make a facebook post like the one below:
When the government argue that the NHS is failing because of its own success (too many sick people living, too many old people because we help them live longer, too many more expensive/complicated treatments etc), it is an argument that, on the surface of it, makes rational sense (its bollocks, ofc, and we know the real reason is because they willfully under-fund it to justify their ultimate aim of full privatisation).
But in commons debates lately, when talking about the housing crisis, the argument goes something like this:
Opposition MP: Homelessness has more than DOUBLED since 2010. Will the government make a commitment today to reduce the number of homeless people by 2019?
Government MP: We have done X, Y and Z deal with the housing crisis.
This argument makes no sense, on the surface or otherwise.
The Tories, with a little help from their Lib Dem friends, came to power in 2010. Homelessness has doubled since.
What possible natural explaination could there be for the stark rise in homelessness in such a short space of time, other than the policies the government have implemented have directly contributed to the rise?
Doing X, Y and Z wont help much if the A, B, C D, E’s etc you’re doing are the things causing the problems.
I was surprised and pleased, a few hours after making that post today, to watch Sunday Politics and see Andrew Marr make the same point to David Gauke.
I wish I could tell you that David Gauke gave a reasoned, insightful, fair and satisfying response. What do you think?