The news media has become increasingly shallow. It is less willing to openly challenge the dogma that lies behind government policy, preferring instead to discuss minutiae within neo-liberalism dogma than to consider broad policy themes. In an effort to fill time it follows trends rather than investigating and setting the agenda. Wedded to vox pops the news output is increasingly banal and celeb driven.
Hence, Nigel Farage, is plastered all over our TV screens, pint in hand and a gargoyle grin on his face. Our character free politics is now dominated by the thoughts of an undistinguished MEP who, love or loath, him does at least appear to have a personality. The media’s response is to take him and his ragtag party seriously. Learned commentators discuss a seismic shift in our politics and the drift to the right becomes a torrent.
A seemingly innocuous tweet showing a photo of flags and a beat up transit van becomes a cause-celebre and leads to the sacking of Emily Thornberry MP from the opposition front bench. Another interpretation of the tweet could have been that it was an attempt to wake up the leadership of the Labour Party to the opinions of what it erroneously assumes would be its natural support. Either way the flag owning gentleman didn’t vote for anyone and he enjoyed his moment in the limelight.
Even our satire in not immune; we, the Monty Python generation, have enjoyed a rich vein of humour, satire and nonsense over the decades. But, those that we once relied upon to tweak the nose of the establishment have gone into hiding. Apparently fear of causing offence has neutered our satire. Terry Pratchett is still turning out Discworld books, but somehow they appear almost serious these days. Robert Rankin is churning out more surreal but ultimately repetitive tales and even Jasper Fforde is losing his mojo. Our much loved tradition of puncturing the pompous is disappearing.
So what’s to be done?
I say bring back Spitting Image! Can you imagine a Fluck and Law puppet of Nigel Farage, and the rest? What fun that would be. Or how about Robert Peston, Fiona Bruce or Evan Davies of the BBC, it’s hard to believe that this is not satire already.