There is absolutely no doubt that Liam Fox is an excellent Secretary of State and MP. He's been on the front bench for some time, having earned high esteem from colleagues and constituents. But what should we make of Werritty?
Unless you're an opposition MP, most people don't care. And it's unlikely any state secrets were betrayed, regardless of furore that opponents have stirred up.
Sure, on some level everyone gets that there was something odd going on.
But, contrary to the paranoia of the political classes, most Britons really don't mind what people decide to do in their private lives, including their politicians, and even if it might involve state business. In fact, that's one of the amazing, under appreciated traits of the British people. They are an inherently open-minded, freedom-loving people and reserve judgement until one demonstrates an obvious or absolute evil.
The problem with political scandal is that it takes on a life of its own. How could Fox survive this now, regardless of the Prime Minister's willingness to put his neck on the line for this guy?
The media and politicos are all over it and they will not let it go till he's finished. Then again, Hague managed to survive, but sometimes these things can be random. For example, if there's something better going on in the news cycle, one might get away with it. (Remember, 'a good day to bury bad news'?) As in all walks of life, sometimes luck can be everything for a political career.
The fact remains that in the modern age of media, the slightest suggestion of funny business terminates even the most promising of political careers. Is this a bad thing in a democracy? On the one hand, if Fox gets the sack or has to resign, it might actually be against the popular will. That is not what should be considered fair in a representative democracy. On the other hand, the media is a watchdog in an age of political apathy.
The trouble then, is whether this modern media democracy has a way of accepting fallible human beings as candidates for high office. The Fox situation will be another good test case.
If the media and the political class listened to the opinions of the man on the street, they would investigate with due diligence but not be out for blood. Unfortunately, the balance of power right now is such that this is unlikely.
Do the people have recourse if the media and the political class has become too powerful? Well, in an age of technology and social media, yes. If only the masses had the luxury to mobilise. With 2.57 million people unemployed right now, who could blame the public for having more pressing worries other than saving the skin of a capable MP?
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