OPINION: The Vigilante Mainstream Media
The death of Carl Sargeant is shocking for everyone involved in the media and politics. Yes, he was a Labour politician and yes he was potentially accused of some serious stuff, however, he is dead and he is dead as a direct result of the way the, lest we forget self-appointed, custodians of ‘truth, justice and public morality’, the ladies and gentlemen of the mainstream media, have conducted themselves over the last couple of weeks.
‘Pestminster’, call it what you will, is a much more serious scandal than expenses in the sense that the gravity of the allegations being made are of the kind that ruin lives simply by being made. When it comes to crimes involving sex an accusation can be as good as a conviction in many peoples eyes – ‘no smoke without fire’ they say. Of course, none of this is to say that some truly heinous things have not been done and that there are no real cases of downright evil behaviour towards women. The case of Bex Bailey, the Labour activist who claims she was raped by a party employee in 2011, and then discouraged by a senior official from reporting the attack is distressing and needs to be taken seriously. However, it is impossible to do so when it is conflated with accusations of hands on knees, pinched bottoms, untucked shirts, unsuccessful lunges either in taxis or elsewhere and this is part of the problem, the real victims suffering is cheapened by its association in the general press trash-bash with such things.
The principle that someone is innocent until proven guilty is a key foundational principle of a legal system in a liberal democracy. Starting with the opposite assumption, that someone is guilty until they are proven innocent, means the odds are that you no longer live in a liberal democracy at all but in fact live in a totalitarian dictatorship. In their eternal quest therefore to protect the values of free speech and freedom the press has therefore instituted a legal system which wouldn’t look out of place in any dictatorial state you care to name.
Everyone must be accountable say the mainstream media. True, they must, but at what point and to whom are they accountable? The main problem with these feeding frenzies is that invariably they really represent a little local difficulty between inhabitants of the same swamp. Far from being in pursuit of the highly-flown ideals that are laid on the table as being the reason the real reasons tend to be murkier. In this instance, the theory of my colleague, John Holland, who wrote about this recently, seems to me to be extremely credible. What really lies behind this is an attempt to end this government, by fair means or foul, and then to end Brexit. Indeed, the prospect of this stopping Brexit is openly discussed in the pages of the liberal, rabidly Remoaning Independent.
I struggled in vain to find a report of Mr. Sargeants death that might indicate the media was involved in some much needed collective navel-gazing. I failed in this quest not least because I am utterly convinced such a thing does not exist. A man is dead. Let that sink in for a moment. A man is dead and for all we know he was utterly innocent of any wrongdoing. Some brave voices have taken aim at this senseless feeding frenzy by a vigilante mob. Stephen Glover, writing in the Daily Mail, rightly asked;
Are we a serious nation? If we continue much longer with this hare-brained witch-hunt in which traditional British virtues of fairness and good sense are heart-breakingly absent, the answer will be an unequivocal No.
Voices like those of Mr.Glover are even more necessary now because now the mainstream media has blood on its hands and for that, it must be accountable or we do not live a free and fair democracy at all.