As a politico I enjoy reading both the Guardian Politics page as well as the Telegraph’s version of the same. As you would expect, you get a very different take on the political events of the day on each, one of the reasons I read both. However, I’ve found the pair a little hard to take since the start of 2015. Both of them have gone further to their ends of the political spectrum than I’m accustomed to.
Take the Telegraph Politics page this weekend. There was an article about Nicky Morgan’s “Trojan Horse curriculum”, which was apparently going to lead to a decline in religious studies as a subject as a result of, get this, kids having to learn about faiths other than Christianity. I could go over the article’s weird logic, but instead ask this: why is it assumed I think that fewer children studying weird ancient myths when they could be learning an instrument or a foreign language is a bad thing? Normally, the Telegraph really doesn’t come across as quite so family, faith, you know the rest, but lately there’s been a slew of this stuff. Then there was Liz Truss declaring that we’ve all “lost touch with the land”. Yes, conservatives of all parties are no longer happy trying to drag the country back to the 1950’s, now they want to undo the Industrial Revolution. What is usually a well-written reflection of centre-right thinking in Britain is all of a sudden coming across a bit like the politics section of Guns & Ammo.
Meanwhile, the Guardian Politics page has gone from walking its usual socialist/liberal tightrope (leaning more in the former direction, admittedly), to this month reading like Pravda. I’m sick of hearing about how Syriza coming to power is something that is supposed to be widely celebrated in this country, particularly after Tsipras has decided that cosying up to Putin in a bid to seemingly threaten the EU with a “give me what I want or I side with the autocrat” is within the range of acceptable behaviour. Or that somehow the problem with the Green Party is that their policies aren’t left-wing enough. Again, what’s gone from a reasonably good snapshot of centre-left views has become a call to storm Whitehall in the name of Marxist-Leninism.
The reason for this seems to boil down to wanting their respective parties to win the election; but the more you think about the logic behind that, the faster it dissipates. Why is heralding a return to feudalism good for the Tories, who are assumedly targeting middle-class, suburban swing voters? Why is metaphorically singing the Internationale at top volume a good thing for Labour, who are trying to assure the same group of voters that they would be a “steady pair of hands on the till”, as the cliché goes? What the hell?
Nick Clegg got the “bullshit buzzer” from Alex Brooker on ”The Last Leg” when he said he thought the two main parties were going too far left and right, echoing the Lib Dems main election argument. Looking at the country’s two main political outlets on each side of the political spectrum, he looks terrifyingly correct.