‘Gutenberg’ moment? Maybe.
Today one is inclined to advert to, on the one hand, a brutal lesson for our political élite and the bien-pensant MSM and, on the other hand, a symptom of the problem that they have.
The former arises from the matter of David Davis resigning his seat to fight a bye-election with its focus on the matter of liberty, privacy, and the issue of the freedom of the individual. Amid much pursing of lips and sharp intakes of breath the reaction of the Westminster Village and the MSM was that Davis was, at best, a dangerous loose cannon careering around the decks of HMS Cameron or, at worst, barking mad. Few were prepared to step up and announce their support for him, the conventional wisdom being that polls definitively showed that the public was firmly behind Gordon Brown’s proposals for internment without trial and that anyone who did not agree was firmly out of step with reality.
In short the scoffers scoffed and nails were hammered home in his political coffin and the obituaries written. Further merriment came when it appeared that he would lack entirely a serious opponent.
Now comes the sound of gears being furiously crunched across the transmission system as some (though assuredly not all) of the Westminster Village and the MSM has suddenly discovered that far from David Davis being out of step with the public as a whole, it is they with their Metropolitan certainties who are, in fact, the ones who are not merely out of step with the public but in fact living on smug cozy planet Zog at the far outer recesses of the Universe.
In support of this I place before you a confession by the Guardian in the form of Frank Fisher:
David Davis and the great media U-turn
Coverage of the Tory MP’s resignation, and online reaction to it, reveals the disconnection between the press and the public
I’ll give them their due: the entire British media may have utterly misjudged the significance and impact of David Davis’s shock resignation last Thursday, but they’re revising and reversing today for all they’re worth. Which, given the astonishing lack of insight displayed by apparent political insiders over this past few days, might not be much.
In the 72 hours following the resignation there was absolute uniformity in the media, of a kind I haven’t seen since the Great Motoons Boycott. Left and right, print and broadcast, all were agreed that Davis had tossed his career away on a mixture of ego and daft idealism, and that he, his party, and the civil liberties lobby, would all suffer voters’ wrath. And yet, on phone-ins, message boards, blogs and in pubs and on park benches, whenever the topic was raised, the British public were overwhelmingly supportive both of Davis, and his ideals. Oh, and the polls put the Tories up two points.
I confess that my own effort on the topic was written very soon after Davis had resigned and made no attempt to presume, for once, upon knowing what was in the public’s mind, though I have been deeply suspicious of the contention that the public was so wedded to the idea of 42 days detention without trial, particularly if this notion was placed in the context of and against a background of the steady tearing down of our essential liberties. I was not prepared, however, for the obvious signs that the political elite had called this one quite wrong.
It brings this thought to mind. Once there was something called “The Silent Majority” whose views were often invoked by politicians who claimed, sometimes, often even, to speak for that group. Opinion polls were seen as something of an effort to provide an accurate voice for The Silent Majority, but as often as not the Silent Majority’s views were those of whoever was speaking at any given moment.
But, thanks to the Internet and to comment sections, blogs and the like, The Silent Majority has discovered not merely that it has a voice but also that it can both use it and be heard. Hence the discovery by the likes of Fisher and his chums in the MSM that they do not speak for us:
For too long the political commentators and partisan propagandists have sought to tell us how we feel, what we’re angry about, what we want – that’s gone. There is today not a deader parrot in this country than one that seeks to say, “I’m parroting what the general public is saying.” Today, if the general public feels something – they will tell you. Over the past four days they have, in full and fierce detail.
I may be wrong, but I sense something here – a shift in power from the commentariat to where it might actually belong, a sudden realisation of the cry of Robert Lindsay’s Wolfie in Citizen Smith:
Power to the people!
And that, dear reader, I suspect, frightens the hell out of them because the people who are retaking power are not the people they might care to have that power.
And here, fortuitously, on the same day comes an example of the sort of arrogant preaching condescension up with which we will no longer put. I am grateful to Guido for drawing my attention to this piece upon which he has done a merry jig in ammunition boots and to which I do not propose to add much, save that the words “overweening pomposity” might also be added to the Indictment and to observe that this numbskull plainly doesn’t get it.