The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

I think what has happened -- and it was much of the burden of the book. What has happened, say, in the last 20, 30 years -- it's happened in this country perhaps more than in others, in part of this very strong tabloid tradition here, stronger than in other democracies -- is to devalue the political process, to see elected Members of Parliament and other councils and, above all, ministers and indeed opposition politicians, as people who essentially are in it for themselves, and to approach their actions and their statements with the view -- or always with the question, in the reporter's mind: why is he or she saying that and what benefit will he or she get from it, either personal or political?

So the ostensible reason for, say, the speech or the proposal or the policy is increasingly subordinate to, if you like, the short term political reason. It is to court popularity of one kind or another. It is to advance the politician's career.

Now, it seems to me that in any business like politics, as in other businesses, these considerations must be part of the assumptions and the calculations of the men and women in power. But to reduce it simply to, if you will, a cynical Occam's razor approach seems to me then to lose out on what is the most important part of it, and that is the nature of the intervention, the nature of the policy proposed and the merits or otherwise of that policy.

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