Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Making excuses

I try to stick to the arts and/or London on this blog, so I hope you'll excuse this short digression and place it in the latter category, perhaps. I don't intend to write about the snow that's variously 'paralysed' or 'crippled' the south-east and brought 'the country to its knees', but I am intrigued by a new form of excuse-making, which I trace to the build up to the Iraq war.

BAA spokesman Andrew Teacher told the BBC of the ongoing chaos at Heathrow: 'If there was a crash or a plane skidded off the runway, we would have people saying, "Why didn't you close the runway?"' Yes, you would, because it's your job to manage the runways and, at this moment, a lot of people suspect that you haven't done that very well.

A single snowfall on Saturday morning in London has potentially put a lot of people's Christmas festivities in jeopardy when my local high street, which is under the Heathrow flight path, was completely clear of snow by Sunday morning. And if it's a question that we don't understand the complexities of the situation then you should explain them better, otherwise it looks like you can't do your job.

It reminds me of England football manager Fabio Capello's reaction following November's abysmal defeat to France in a friendly game which came down to: you (the media) told me to field young players, I did and look what happened. Capello is in his job because of his experience - way above that of any member of the press - and what the media, and many fans, were bemoaning was his inability to turn a bad situation round whoever the tools at his disposal.

Another version of this arose following the allegation Saddam Hussein had rockets that could be launched at major targets within 45 minutes prior to Gulf War II. This was extremely well publicised by the Evening Standard but, when it became clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, we were told by people like Alastair Campbell that we had remembered this wrongly and at no point had we believed this was an argument used to justify an illegal attack on another state.

It's the memory of this which may well have led to Adam Boulton's Sky News freak out prior to the election, when he started screeching like a wronged child in an interview with Campbell: 'Don't keep telling me what I think, I'm fed up with you telling me what I think.' It's a tactic that might be labelled a weapon of mass distraction.

No comments:

Post a Comment