Learning from eBAY

From my column in today’s Observer

Amid all the ponderous guff in the election campaign about ‘trust’, one interesting fact has been strangely absent from the discussion. We are all agreed that politicians rank low in public esteem, down there with estate agents, property developers and other kinds of spiv. But there is another occupational group that ranks even lower than these creatures of the deep. I refer, of course, to journalists. We are despised by the public – yet the fact that we shape the public’s attitude toward politicians remains unremarked. Thus we have a really weird vicious circle.

The public reviles politicians on the basis of images and impressions that are exclusively mediated by people who are widely regarded as equally loathsome and contemptible. This reduces the election to something akin to choosing a bride using reflections in the distorting mirrors of a funfair.