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27 September 2011

Striking off in all directions ....

Labour seem very keen to strike.

Strike people off, that is. A week or so ago it was Ed Miliband, promising to 'stike off' rogue bankers who fail to observe proper standards whilst getting obscenely rich with other people's money. Then today (albeit briefly) it was Ivan Lewis wanting to 'strike off' errant journos.

The phrase has a nice ring to it. A GP gropes a patient in his surgery - strike him off.

A lawyer fleeces her client - deserves sriking off by the Law Society as unfit to practice as a solicitor. It's doing what politicians like best; a decisive, headline grabbing gesture.

But there's a problem with journos. There's no professional body to 'strike them off' from. One tweeter alleged today the last politician to actually set up a register of state-sanctioned hacks was Mussolini. To be fair to Mr Lewis, he's denying he ever suggested a state register of official journalists. That's not what he meant by 'strike off', he told the BBC.

So what did he mean? Tear up their NUJ cards? Not all hacks carry one of those by any means. I fell out with Acorn House in the mid 80s (long story) and had no problem getting my Press ID via ITN.

And that raises another big question - which journos, exactly, could be 'struck off'? Print hacks - OK. Broadcasters - ooh er, that raises questions about interference with the BBC. And all the bloggers, tweeters and online green-ink single-issue fanatics - not a chance.

All of which leads me to believe Lewis's notion was just anoher ill-thought-through grab at an easy soundbite. It's the kind of political thinking which, when a party's in power, led to Michael Howard's Dangerous Dogs Act.

Writing policy in response to a moral panic, general outrage or public pressure can often end up being a total dog's dinner.

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