In the age of Twitter, Facebook and no doubt other media platforms I've never heard of, we are bombarded with instant public opinion. Some of it is reasoned and relevant but most of it seems to err on the side of being ignorant, insulting or utter rubbish - perhaps a combination of all three. I'm no Twitterati or Facebooker so I need to be careful about this but it seems to me that we are gleaning much of our 'knowledge' of what's going on in the world through this peculiar prism of spontaneous public commentary. The main media outlets all resort to it, the heads of public institutions resort to it, the wider international public are crazed by it and in the case of President Trump it is seemingly the only medium he knows how to blurt through. My question is - and I don't know the answer to this - 'Is this real or are we all falling prey to that age old truism that when a story is told a dozen or even a thousand times over it ceases to have any linkage to the original version ?' That is the worrying part - that we - principally governments, public sector organisations and countless quango's - use this source of global information as some sort of barometer of mood, emotion, urgency and threat and make sometimes big decisions based upon it. Examples proliferate - the Gaza riots, the antics over Corbyn and anti-Semitism, the Met Police's declaration that social media is fueling knife crime, the explosion of sexual abuse claims, the gender equality stories - everything we now see in the news reports is in part fed by social media commentary. Facebook and Google are already facing some scrutiny over the exposure they allow to endless subjects but we, the public, also need to curb our enthusiasm for these platforms, their anonymity, their potential for mischief makers, and the probity of many things claimed by Tom, Dick, Harry and Sally. Opinion formed by the court of gratuitous social behaviour is not a good road to go down.
Elsewhere I see that Russia is 'demanding' an audience with the now conscious and lucid Yulia Skripal after her nightmare recovery from nerve agent poisoning. I can only assume they think that this will display some measure of credibility of innocence by being seen to be taking an interest in the poor woman. I'm more inclined to imagine they want to have another go at murdering her and checking out the Salisbury security around her still comatose father. If she's smart, she'll reject their overtures and equally question the wisdom of her personal relationship with a Russian intelligence officer working for the FSB.
Equally heckle raising is the story of the two 'British' ISIL jihadi's captured in Syria moaning that they won't get a fair trial because they've been stripped of their British citizenship. I don't suppose the victims of ISIL were that impressed with that organisations warped sense of right and wrong either. That these individuals even have the gall to make claim to a 'fair trial' outrages many - if the Syrians had their way they would merely disappear and without too many tears being shed in the West - but we are supposed to be above such barbarity and considerate of human rights. It's a tightrope moral quandary - to rise above the unspeakable things these two have been associated with and grant them the essential privileges of a humane society or to wash our hands of them and leave them to the fate of another Middle Eastern 'judicial' system. I suspect a straw poll on this would be overwhelmingly to have them cast into the pit and face trial in Syria. They are no longer British citizens we would argue - but will we let a vocal minority here sway the opinion otherwise ? Most of us would like to think not, but in this age of minority pandering, who knows ?
Tony Blair is still urging a change of heart over Brexit. I was both amused and dismayed to hear of him using the phrase of 'those Brexit people' as if those who voted to Leave the EU were some sort of nomadic,ill-informed tribes-people who really had no idea what it was they were voting for. That may well have been the case for some but there were many who voted with some care and consideration of the options. Even Remainers could not vote with absolute certainty for they also had no idea what the future EU was going to look like - or cost them. Blair's interventions are mischievous in the extreme and are based upon his personal views - he does not represent anyone in this debate yet is given freedom to ply his soap-box opinions throughout the media. That must be an extreme case of democracy at work - but the essential point is that he has no understanding of the Leave ethos. It is beyond his grasp and reference to 'Brexit people' merely underscores his ignorance of why the referendum vote went the way it did.
I see Esther McVey is recommending that teenagers get some valuable work ethic experience by taking Saturday and evening jobs. Great in principle but fraught with hurdles for both employers and kids. Employment law now is so hamstrung with 'do's and dont's' with added health and occupational safety thrown in that it must surely put off many potential employers of this youth army. I'm all for Ms McVey winning this argument but she'll need to muscle some of her cabinet colleagues first to get this to become a widespread option - but good luck all the same.