A recent column by Matthew Parris deserves even wider coverage than it received. He made the point that the atrophy in a disintegrating government is betrayed by the media's disregard for things it would once solemnly have reported. "We no longer bother to rebut the Prime Minister’s improbable claims," says Parris, "or dispute his wacky ideas. There’s no point."
And Gordon Brown, who always loved reeling out meaningless statistics to bully and cow his audiences into submission, is coming out with some real corkers. Parris cites two from Labour's recent conference:
“Starting now," said Mr Brown to his conference in Brighton three weeks ago, “and right across the next Parliament, every one of the 50,000 most chaotic families will be part of a family intervention project . . ."
It took hardly a nanosecond to realise that this was a ludicrous undertaking on many levels. It certainly wouldn’t be starting “now". What is this new “project"? Where did he get the figure of 50,000 “most chaotic families" from? Absurd.
Yet no-one mocked it or disputed it. They barely noticed it. They no longer either accept this sort of nonsense, or even think it matters. Parris gives a second one:
“From now on," Mr Brown told his Brighton conference, “all 16 and 17-year-old parents who get support from the taxpayer will be placed in a network of supervised homes." But this is astonishing, isn’t it? Where are these workhouses? Have you seen any young parents carted away yet?
At one time some serious voices in the media might have challenged fantasies like this, but no-one can any longer be bothered. Matthew Parris is the only commentator I saw even mention this, and then only to show that nobody even bothers to take it seriously any more.
The UK might indeed pull out of recession by the turn of the year. Let us hope so. But no-one gives any weight to the fact that the Prime Minister says so. If anything, that would make it seem more improbable. Like a busted bank, his capital of trust is gone, betrayed and squandered over the years.
Check out Dr Madsen Pirie's newly-published "101 Great Philosophers".