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Teresa Goncalves

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Power of the People: How the Hacking Scandal Has Shown We Have a Voice

Posted: 27/07/11 12:35

It has been only a few weeks since the phone hacking scandal broke with the story of the insidious tampering of missing girl Milly Dowler's phone by News of the World's journalists. This story has gone on to reveal the extent of the allegations that, since 2006, had been largely ignored.

Whilst some media types and public figures urge us not to get stuck in the 'Westminster bubble' and lose sight of other important news, others start to get bored of the static discussions in parliament and the domination of this story in the UK media. However, whilst it is important that other news does not get sidelined, it is equally important that we don't let slide this opportunity to really hold government, or should I say parliament, accountable.

The British public are all too used to letting the government just 'get on with it'. Our elections are free and (arguably) fair but the four years in between, MPs from all sides seem to live in a separate world where us mere mortals rarely penetrate.

Until now.

The student protests that begun in November of last year and the more recent pensions strikes have shown that the citizens of this country really can have a voice and that with enough will and determination we can force our government to, in the least, hear us.

The unpartisan nature of these more recent events and the systemic illegality of the actions by journalists and the media corporations involved has meant that this time, the government has had no choice but to listen.

The overwhelming culpability of so many 'highly regarded' officials of the public sector and government is outstanding but politicians will continue to do what they do best, dodge the bullet questions and retort vague and ambiguous answers. The inquiries are paramount and the select committee's work important, but we know only too well how over hyped media sensationalism can quickly bring down a serious investigation.

We as the public also have a responsible part to play in all this. It is not too hard to suspect that had this not been aired so nakedly to the individual citizenry, it may have been brushed under a Whitehall carpet somewhere as we are almost 100% certain was done when issues of phone hacking by tabloid papers first came to light. The collective voice of so many disgusted and appalled people made it impossible to ignore this time around, especially after confirmation that the Dowler family and their missing daughter had been cruel targets of this invasion of civil liberties. Certain resignations may have never happened had pressure not been kept on through social mediums such as Twitter, for example.

More importantly, the issue can't be placed under the umbrella of one ideological viewpoint or another. The government has always maintained a dangerously close relationship with the media, and while Labour and even the Liberal Democrat party may emerge somewhat stronger, as Labour leader Ed Miliband already has, fundamentally all sides are to blame, and on this, the public is agreed.

Ultimately it is our responsibility to demand that accountability be enforced in all aspects of the running of our country. We have to knock back our 'laissez faire' attitude and demand that we are not only heard but also listened to by those supposedly representing us; we can do this by keeping the pressure on, asking questions, being interested.

 

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