Political deathmatch

24 Aug 2010 0

When they report politics in the news it sounds bloody amazing. It’s full of fights to the death, and hot water, and knockout punches, and things hanging by threads, and even tsars. It sounds like a film with effects by Ray Harryhausen.

The reality of politics, though, is pretty dull, procedural and arcane. When you read more detailed political commentary you find that the most devastating, most dastardly, most shocking thing a politician can do to another is called “briefing”. The response is called a “counter briefing”. What this appears to mean (and please correct me if I’m being hopelessly naive) is that you tell a journalist something nasty about someone. And it’s hard to get much further from the deathmatch imagery than that.

I propose a better analogy for use in political reporting: two seven-year old girls fighting in the playground over a My Little Pony doll. “Nick Clegg fought hard to avoid having his hair pulled by Ed Miliband this week, but ended up hitting his head on the seesaw anyway, which was all the pretext he needed to go crying to Miss about it. Meanwhile David Cameron retrieved the crumpled My Little Pony from the sandpit, but with all its legs pulled off, it’ll be cold comfort.” That sort of thing.

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