Douglas Carswell

04 FEB 2013

The seven laws of lazy political punditry

A great deal of what we know about politics comes to us via political pundits - those who earn a living analysing the goings on in Westminster.

Many pundits are brilliant, providing original, thoughtful insights.  But just as there's an awful lot of Mickey mouse PR sitting alongside those who know their stuff, so to with political punditry.

Here are the seven laws of lazy political punditry:

1. If Tory backbenchers are causing trouble over anything, it must be because they are right wing.  When filing copy, try to use the terms "right wing" and "trouble makers" interchangeably.

2. If a special adviser briefs against a backbencher, it must be true.  If, for example, a spad tells you that backbencher X is critical of Treasury policy do not try to appreciate why anyone might have doubts about monetary policy. Don't do the maths to see if their fiscal critique is justified.  Cut and paste what that nice spad tells you, instead.

3. Unelected pundits always know better how to win votes than MPs, including MPs elected by swing voters in marginal seats.  I know one pundit who tried and failed to get elected in a swing seat.  They have since become quite an authority on what voters really want.  

4. Don't explain why politicians are doing what they are doing. Tell us about your own prejudices and preconceptions instead.  It's not the pressures on those who got to Westminster by the ballot box that count. It's all about what you think.

5. Refer to those who believe things are best run by politicians as sensible, middle-of-the-road sorts. MPs who think that the free market might provide things better must be dismissed as dogmatic ideologues. 

This can best be achieved by writing comment pieces about how "some things are too important to leave to the markets". On your free market produced laptop. Before filing copy to your free market sustained newspaper. Before heading off for lunch at a free market restaurant. To eat food that the free market has provided, and without which you might starve.

6. Demand parties embrace diversity, and, in particular, select candidates from a wider range of backgrounds. Be sure, however, to jump on anyone who then expresses a view that does not conform with Westminster group think.

7. If every other pundit is saying the same thing, it must be so. See comment pieces on Gordon "the Iron Chancellor" Brown, or more recently, articles implying public debt is going down.

Thank goodness that the digital revolution has given us the blogs. Comment is slowly being democratised. We can at last begin to see the difference between good comment and lazy punditry.

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