Friday, December 30, 2005

Publication of 1975 Government Papers

The simultaneous release of Irish and British state papers for 1975 provides some fascinating initial insights, not just into the political situation itself but also the different elements which influenced the perspectives of the two governments.

Not only were there natural differences in strategic interests, but the analysis of each side was also coloured by the perception of the other sides perceived political objectives and possible tactics.

Adding another layer of complexity was the perception by each side of the key players on the other side - sometimes reflecting a lack of respect for the integrity and/or capability of counterparts.

In short, the ingredients that go into most situation where humans interact, but on a somewhat grander scale.

A collated edition of both sets of papers should form part of the curriculum for any school of journalism and should also be compulsory reading for current correspondents and media pundits.

This might improve media standards and lead to a more considered discussion of the major domestic and international issues of the day. We might reduce the often simplistic moral posturing, the demand for a Yes/No answer, the insistence on politicians and others speculating on possible outcomes while still involved in delicate and sensitive negotiations.

It would also help if politicians were less willing to submit themselves to the sometimes ridiculous demands of the media for instant analysis and simple answers to complex situations.

A robust “get stuffed” might usefully supplement the more anodyne “no comment”, I suspect the population would understand and respect them more for it.

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