Richard North, 03/02/2006  

Following on from my post on the Type 45, in which I remarked how the coverage affirmed the retreat of the media from reporting intelligently on defence issues, yesterday in the House of Commons there was a major debate on defence procurement.

The issue itself is of huge significance, not only because it involves massive public expenditure, much of it wasted – an issue that concerns all of us, even those of us who are adverse to "toys" – but also because it is on the adequacy or otherwise of procurement decisions that the whole capability of our armed forces rest.

The debate itself, the transcript of which runs to 82 A4 pages and over 43,000 words, represented a huge investment in time of dozens of MPs and their staffs, the minister and his staff and – from first reading – raised matters of great public interest.

While we are all quick to condemn and deride our politicians, you can imagine that not a few are more than a little disconcerted that, despite the expenditure of such huge effort, the debate merited not a single mention in the media. The Telegraph Commons Sketch, for instance, witten by that incurable lightweight Andrew Gimson, devoted its space to a jokey account of the earlier Defra debate - this in a newspaper that found space for a full page on the account of some boring divorce case.

It would be wrong, however, to single out just the Telegraph for this neglect. The whole of the MSM is as bad. But, if the media do not take the time and effort to report serious issues, can they then be surprised that MPs – to whom publicity is lifeblood – devote their time to more newsworthy items. When it comes to "dumbing down", the media are in the vanguard of the march of the morons.

We are at least fortunate that so many MPs are indeed focused on such issues – no thanks to the MSM – and we will be posting a detailed report of the debate later today.


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