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Responsibility

May 18th, 2004

It’s striking to observe that the Daily Mirror has more stringent standards of personal responsibility than the Blair government (or, for that matter, any government in the Coalition of the Willing).

To spell this out, Mirror Editor Piers Morgan was sacked after he published photos, purporting to show torture of Iraqis by British troops, that turned out to be fakes. There’s no suggestion, as far as I know, that Morgan was complicit in the fraud, but obviousy his decision to accept them was influenced by his anti-war stand. In other words, Morgan’s position is exactly the same as that of Blair and Hoon in relation to the various “dodgy dossiers”, of Powell and Bush in relation to Powell’s UN speech and of Howard and Downer in Australia. As far as I know, no-one in any country has resigned or been sacked over this, and no-one senior has resigned or been sacked over Abu Ghraib.

The earlier resignation of BBC Director General Greg Dyke reflects a standard of responsibility unimaginable for politicians nowadays, though entirely consistent with the alleged conventions of the Westminster system and “the buck stops here”. Dyke resigned because one of his employees had made a misjudgement, and he took responsibility. buy elimite

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  1. May 18th, 2004 at 17:50 | #1

    I think the Mirror board took the view that Morgon was a danger to the paper’s credibility because he’d got involved in a controversy that made them look bad and put the shareholder’s investments in danger, and that is why Morgon was sacked. Not because of any noble ideas about accountability or ‘the truth’. This IS a British tabloid newspaper, after all.

  2. Jack
    May 18th, 2004 at 21:00 | #2

    If anything the fact that Morgan did not have to do the decent thing himslef makes the gap in accountability stronger not weaker. Since accountability is a main function of democracy that is worrying.

  3. theilliterateones
    May 18th, 2004 at 21:06 | #3

    Slightly off the topic, the good news is: the latest polls show that only about 20% of Britons would give Blair another term as PM.
    -=the Illiterate Ones=-

  4. Don Wigan
    May 19th, 2004 at 09:44 | #4

    The Mirror action is certainly interesting. Other stuff I’ve read suggested that irrespective of the validity of the photos the story is reliable.

    It bears a suspicious resemblance to the BBC Sexed Up reactions where the reporter and his boss were scapegoated for a story that had much more truth than misrepresentation, especially about its subjects.

    And nobody’s been accountable for all the public lies and misrepresentations.

  5. James Farrell
    May 18th, 2004 at 11:14 | #5

    I suppose the lack of responsibilty in politics has something to do with the erosion of the independent public service. Your staff and department heads are all handpicked toadies and loyal thugs whose career and prospects are coextensive with yours; when you go they all go. Any natural sense of responsibility mutates into a feudal-style obligation to them.

  6. May 18th, 2004 at 12:03 | #6

    I also wonder about the trivial stuff. If this all happened because of some fake photos, what about fake WMD stories? Even if one can make the monumental argument that no one of importance should be fired over the whole sordid mess, surely Judith Miller needs to be walked out of the office by a security guard with her personal effects in a box.

    Even if they did find a single 1980′s artillery shell with useless sarin.

  7. Mike Hunt
    May 18th, 2004 at 16:26 | #7

    What do you mean ‘any government in the Coalition of the Willing’? It should be any government. full stop.

    In Victoria people are getting fined, losing their licences (and their jobs as a result) because of faulty speeed cameras. Not one person has been held responsible.

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