The court of public opinion


No doubt many of our regular readers/viewers/visitors will have watched Question Time last night. I tuned in with a large bag of popcorn anticipating a dramatic and thrilling debate. Sadly, I felt that I was watching a deleted scene from the Wicker Man. Perhaps it is because the story has run on too long now but I started to feel a degree of sympathy for the politicians on the panel. The cries from the audience were angry (and understandably so). Sadly, it was difficult to avoid the sense that few really grasped the issues and most were simply there in the hope of seeing the journalist from the Telegraph slay the politico dragons. It seems that this issue will now be resolved by nothing less than heads rolling in Parliament Square.

It was at this point that my sympathy instantly vanished. I remembered that we have been here before…recently. When news spread that bankers were being awarded large bonuses and pensions, the public again lit the torches, collected their pitchforks and descended on the home of Fred Goodwin. Did the MPs urge caution? Did they remind the public that many of them had benefitted from a generation of boom funded by the banking industry? No, they offered only cynical sabre-rattling and idle threats to reclaim (somehow) Sir Fred’s pension. This climaxed with the [honorary] QC, Harriet Harman declaring that Sir Fred should not be judged by a court of law but by the court of public opinion.

During Question Time, the court of public opinion was in session. We all got to see it in action, however, it was not bankers in the dock but Ms Harman’s Parliamentary colleagues. How ironic to hear them now arguing that they acted within the rules. The rules have no place in the court of public opinion, you are judged according to the frenzied whim of the mob. MPs should expect a harsh sentence. Somewhere in a gold-plated house in Edinburgh, Sir Fred Goodwin must be chuckling.


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