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Wednesday, August 05, 2009 

Silly season moaning.

Every year it's the same. The newspapers moan about politicians while they're at Westminster, then they moan when they're not at Westminster. Gavel Basher in Private Eye today points out that those most fingered as being useless can't win: Bob Ainsworth, the defence secretary, pilloried for being out of his depth and described in the Sun's umpteenth leader on Our Brave Boys having to fight the government as much as they're fighting the Taliban as a "bungling Defence wallah", went for a few days break, just as the row about compensation broke out. He came back, as you would, and the same newspapers complain that he shouldn't have bothered.

The situation is almost exactly the same with whoever it is who deputises for the prime minister while he's away for a couple of weeks. John Prescott got it in the neck repeatedly simply because he wasn't Tony Blair and also from the usual suspects for being a working class idiot above his pay grade. This year it's Harriet Harman's turn, and it being the silly season and there being no real politics to write about, she's transformed by the Mail especially into a feminist harridan determined in just a week to strike a blow against the oppressive patriarchy. The evidence? She jokingly repeated her remarks that women would make better bankers than men (they couldn't be much worse), is daring to introduce lessons about relationships at the age of five which in the Mail becomes five-year-olds being indoctrinated in the ways of feminazism, and might have suggested that the proposals on reforms to the rape laws aren't tough enough. It's utter nonsense, but it fills the space and makes for a good front page splash.

The last person to deputise for the prime minister who was given anything even approaching respect was John Reid, who was praised for his handling of the "liquid bomb plot" raids while Blair was off sunning himself. Reid of course was the hard, unflappable and determined politician which the authoritarian tabloids especially love, at least until they decide that what was up must be brought back down to earth. As for Bob Ainsworth, attacked as much for his choice in facial hair as for his current performance as defence secretary, he's just the latest poor bastard to be cleaning up the mess which Reid himself left at defence, he being the one who told the world that he hoped the troops in Afghanistan would be able to return home from their mission without firing a single shot. We might get the politicians we deserve, but we get the media we deserve as well.

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