A four day week will never work … for this very simple reason
I had hoped that this particular tradition of party conferences had died out – Jeremy Corbyn never did – but Sir Keir decided to bring it back. When you stop to think about it, it doesn’t make sense. Lady Starmer is not a politician. She does not work for the Labor Party. So why should she be walked around the room at the Labor Party conference, to a standing ovation from regional delegates? Whenever I drop off an item, I don’t scroll my wife through the Telegraph’s office.
Political leaders, however, have shown activists their wives since time immemorial. It’s very strange. It looks like an ancient tribal ceremony: the presentation to the tribesmen of the wife chosen by the chief, as proof of her power and virility.
“See! Grand Chief Keir’s wife! Very handsome. Good hips and strong legs. She will produce a lot of sons.
“Many sons will continue the tribe’s eternal struggle to secure a new contract that is fairer for hard-working families in a responsible fiscal environment.”
Should journalists lie?
Who is really responsible for the oil crisis? Dame Andrea Leadsom and John Howell – both Conservative MPs – seem to think it’s the media. Their argument, in essence, is that if the media hadn’t reported that there were shortages, the public wouldn’t have started panicking buying. Thus, in effect, the declaration of shortages has caused even greater shortages.
For a journalist, this is a disturbing thought. We had always assumed our job was to tell the truth, even – in fact, mostly – when the truth was uncomfortable or awkward. But maybe we are wrong. Perhaps, for the sake of the nation – or at least for the sake of the politicians responsible for it – we should just lie and cover up any bad news. After all, bad news can upset and scare people. And when people are upset and scared, they can act in regrettable ways – as we saw last week.
So panic buying could have been avoided if the media had faithfully claimed that all was well and the government was, as always, perfectly in control. This approach to journalism certainly seems to be working in North Korea. No matter what shortages plague this country, one can always trust its media to assure citizens that there are none, and that even if there is, it is certainly not the fault of the Dear Leader. Maybe that’s why we never hear about panic buying out there. Even if it may also be because they have nothing to buy in a panic.
Either way, I think our politicians are right. The time has come for the media to reflect and learn. Let’s usher in a bright and positive new era of journalism, one that appreciates how dangerous the truth can be, and quietly throws a veil on anything that can be detrimental to public morale.
In all of tomorrow’s papers, let’s assure the nation that there is absolutely no shortage of truck drivers, that our pumps and shelves are packed to the brim and every UK football team has won 5-0.