Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a two-part series. You can read Part One here on Independence Daily.
Reading even the so-called quality press these days is something of a trial of patience and credulity. It seems that somebody somewhere comes up with a ‘story’ which as soon as published or even before these days, is either leaked to ‘Twitter’ causing a ‘storm’ if the writer dares to venture one original thought away from what is considered acceptable or if deemed to be acceptable is copied sometimes verbatim by every other scribe in the media, sometimes even down to reporting the reports of another reporter working for another publication. I wonder what some of yesterday’s journalistic greats would have thought of that. Where are the up and coming Bill Deedes, Melanie Phillips, John Pilger, Lynn Barber, Keith Waterhouse, Lynda Lee-Porter, Malcolm Muggeridge, Julia Somerville, Cassandra, Robert Kee, Eve Pollard, David Frost, Joan Bakewell’s these days to name but a few? As an aside, the first woman journalist to be made editor of a newspaper was Rachael Beer in 1891 who was editor of the Observer followed by Mary Howorth who in 1903 was the first editor of the Daily Mirror. And although for many years journalism was seen as a mostly male preserve, probably due to the attitudes of the time and how they were portrayed in post-war movies, women now edit many popular newspapers in the U.K.
None of which explains the obvious dearth of investigative talent in the mainstream media, either print or broadcast. Maybe these days it’s just too easy to scan social media for stories, rather than get outside of the ‘bubble’ and talk with real people. Then again watching these representatives of the fourth estate at Prime Minister’s question time, it seems that like the police and other members of the public sector they seem to have forgotten if they were ever taught that is, how to actually speak to people. Probably because they have the luxury of a media studies degree and didn’t have cut their teeth if they were lucky on an independent newspaper. Or maybe it’s the effect of too much time on Twitter or texting, either way, it’s becoming obvious to more and more people that mainstream media is not what it once was.
Not that this should be of any surprise to people of, let’s say, a certain age. Well, let’s say people who were educated to have at least some understanding of ‘standards’ often forgetting of course that we were part of a generation that threw standards along with many other things out of the window. Certainly standards of dress and behaviour and respect changed forever in the 1960s and why not? Those who were around at the time will tell you that growing up first in the real austerity of the 1950s and early 1960s felt to them at least like a rerun of the 1930s when you for the most part had not a lot of money to spend, dad’s word was law, everything closed early in the evening and nearly everything on Sundays; and, for the most part, much of the country still showed signs of bomb damage and mostly everything outside was filthy from decades of coal burning.
So much got dumped or overthrown by the ‘new order’ that soon became the ‘new normal’ which changed just about everything you could think of. Entertainment, broadcasting, education, management, ideas of standards, discipline, the work ethic, and so on … question any of it at the time and you were told that we must have equality, later becoming equality and diversity. But in any case, if in any position of management – particularly in social service departments and much of the public sector of the 80s and 90s – that as you were probably, white, and middle class, you should leave your middle-class standards at home. And not be ‘judgemental‘ – a buzz word of the time. Which was probably fair enough, seeing as it was often a very paternalistic attitude but then somebody somewhere forgot to put back something in its place, certainly most of the boomers we keep hearing about who by now are in their early 70s failed to take much notice or do much to counter the prevailing management diktats and ideas and then along came Blair, and we are as they say now, where we are.
And that’s something that if you were to listen to the pundits in the media broadcast or print, you could be forgiven in thinking that all the attacks on our standards and culture happened last year or the year before, well have I got news for you, twenty-five years ago and that’s about far as memories are reliable, many managers and professionals were sounding the alarm that new entrants, were well, not up to the job. Education standards were demonstrably falling, self-discipline was going out of the window as was common sense; there was the effect of too much ‘cheap‘ or ‘serious ’ (as they called it) money, drug taking, and all the rest that has become only too common place in the headlines of the press over the years. It was the generation of ‘friends’,’Ferrari Five ‘ , ‘Loads a money’, and little responsibility generation writ large. Everything that was wrong the mantra went, was either the fault of somebody else, or could be solved by throwing money at it, and as we were told endlessly money was ‘cheap,’ never ever so ‘cheap’, until the crash of 2008, that was, of course, but then after a little notable difficulty not noticed by most, the circus carried on, until last year.
Twenty years ago, managers could be heard in the public services – notably the emergency services – that some new entrants were difficult to manage, had a poor grasp of why they were there, seemed not particularly interested, and had not much pride either in themselves or the services. We have now seen where that all led. The evidence is around us, more and more people are aghast and disturbed by the way officers of various police forces, dress, speak and act when dealing with the public, respect for the police is tumbling, not that any of that has come as a surprise to experienced and now retired officers, who have been reluctantly describing just how bad things have become, with one recently retired detective constable in a shire ‘force’ saying he was ashamed of how ‘officers’ have been acting while to put it into the words of a senior West Midland Police Officer, ‘policing the pandemic’!
Twenty years ago, the millennium, children born that year are now in our universities, our public sector departments our emergency services, and the private sector. Twenty years ago, a training partner of one of the counties largest law firms, told me that trainees with law degrees often had such a poor grasp of English Language, particularly grammar, that they had had to make them sit remedial classes. Which probably won’t bother anyone outside of the legal profession too much, except that now politicians are complaining of badly drafted law, and punters expecting a first class service are receiving documents from law firms full of basic errors and spelling mistakes.
We read of exporters having problems with working following Brexit; forms are apparently completed sometimes not at all and often incorrectly and so it goes on, and on, someone in the words of the Duke of Edinburgh, needs to pull their collective finger out.
Brexit we were told would be a huge opportunity for the country to shine and leave the E.U. behind. After four years of negotiations, mostly it seems either badly drafted or accepted just to get the job done have not helped. While all this talk is going on other economies, particularly China, are powering ahead. The latest ’new normal’ whatever that is , is not about being good enough , which is never good enough, which seems to me at least the default of our political class. Still, after twelve months of the pandemic, parroting the views of scientific ‘elite’ which on close examination often are anything but, still not leading but still pushing out conflicting information and instructions, why for example does the Health Secretary say one thing, followed by the Home Secretary saying another only to be countered by the Transport Secretary for goodness sake? What sort of example does that show to the world? This week’s announcement that every visitor will have to quarantine and pay for the privilege, while illegal immigrants get free board and lodgings, and the covid vaccination, in often four or five star hotels beggars belief; particularly when it’s reported that some older people can’t either access their doctor or get themselves vaccinated – it is nothing short of a disgrace.
The fact that many other countries are in a worse position – and particularly the E.U. member states – is not the issue. The issue here is why, despite all the good will and money being thrown at all our problems, the NHS remains in a shambles and not treating hundreds of thousands of patients sometimes with life threatening or terminal illnesses, education schools and colleges and universities remain in limbo, the infrastructure continues to deteriorate? And policing? Well, what can you say that hasn’t already? Our politicians act like they are the cast of West Wing and so it goes on. Although this has been years probably decades in the making, the black swan event of the pandemic has highlighted the situation for all to see. We are apparently judging by the polls, either satisfied or, as that fictitious teenage character used to say, not it seems ‘bothered! Apparently, the thing that bothers millions is not the length of the unemployment queues, the fact that millions are facing financial difficulties, that charities are supplying food parcels to ever increasing numbers of people … our main worry is according to some sections of the media is that we won’t be able to have a summer holiday!
Great Reset required? More like a great wake up it seems to me. But where is the talented management and leadership going to come from? Mostly it seems it went out of the window twenty years ago and few bovvered!