I am currently reminded of the fictitious mayor Salvor Hardin's epigram which tells us that "the atom blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways." ('Foundation' by Isaac Asimov)
What has triggered this line of thought? The Labour party's leader and deputy leader elections, which are being granted disproportionate media coverage by what (as we all know by now) is a largely Labour-supporting media sector, with the remainder keeping up with the competition – so they are all at it. This includes televised hustings as if this is as significant as a General Election – which it is not.
Notably, the Liberal Democrats' own leadership replacement process is receiving virtually no coverage in the mainstream media, and nor did the Conservative leadership elections during the past fifteen years and more (though more than the Lib Dems are getting at present).
So, what is the relevance of Salvor Hardin's saying? It is that, in their attempt to make Labour the focus of the population's attention – and specifically at the expense of the other political parties – they unavoidably expose the weaknesses and other demerits of the leadership candidates.
So far we have had just one nationwide televised hustings, earlier this week, which most observers judged to be humdrum and unexciting. It also showed that the candidates were mostly living in the past, spouting the same rhetoric as ever (mainly: tax, borrow, spend), and any 'new' ideas they claimed to have turned out to be variations on the old, failed Labour policies that have now lost them two general elections in a row.
Liz Kendall is the only slightly brighter star in this rather dull firmament, but only in part. The lady is far and away the best – and most relevant – of the four candidates, but this is Labour so the others scored higher (to different extents) in follow-up formal polls and other surveys.
The most likely ultimate winner remains Andy Burnham, as I said in a couple of places a few weeks ago. That has remained unchanged up until his twice-uttered gaffe this past week about 'the party comes first, always' – Liz Kendall's riposte that 'the country comes first' during the terlevised hustings event making Burnham's self-serving attitude even more glaringly obvious than it might have been.
This is not exactly a new thing, of course, and has permeated the Labour party (and, it seems, all other Left-wing parties everywhere) for as long as I can remember. Even supposedly moderate Charles Clarke let slip the same sentiment on television several years ago, and others from the party have said the same in print for years.
Thus the public are, now more than ever before, learning truths that their supportive friends in the big media (most notably the BBC, as in this instance) really hadn't intended. Their agenda has, inevitably and predictably, been scuppered by the innate nature of those they are showcasing.
Really perceptive readers of this post will perhaps now start to see why, over the years, I have been saying that this particular (i.e. media) issue would ultimately work out for the best. That actual 'best' is yet to come, but what we have already witnessed gives an early clue or three to where it is all leading. Long before the next parliamentary all-out election in Britain, this picture should be clearer still!