Every now and again, the worlds of politics and media collide and it becomes entirely possible for many within both bubbles to lose a sense of what is really important to the people who really matter – the people who don’t spend their entire lives within those bubbles.
I spotted this letter in the Bolton News last week. It’s about phone hacking:
WITH Scotland Yard becoming involved, and one distressed victim paid a six-figure sum, celebrity phone hacking is clearly seen as far more serious than using a mobile phone whilst driving.
How many celebrities have been killed by phone hackers? Who knows how many innocent roadusers have been killed by drivers “secretly” using their mobile?
Hundreds for sure!
Driver distraction and disregard for road safety has definitely worsened with the nation’s addiction to the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
Major cut backs to traffic policing won’t help!
The threat of using a mobile whilst driving was highlighted by the Transport Research Laboratory. Drivers are seriously distracted by in-car technology — mobile phone use slowed reaction times by as much as 35 per cent. Compare this to the slowed reaction time of 15 per cent for a driver at the drinkdrive limit, and using a mobile whilst driving presents much the same threat to life and limb as that presented by a drink-driver (along with uninsured drivers, the scourge of our roads). Time for driving bans for ignoring the mobile phone ban?
The worst case of driver distraction caused six deaths.
The Statham family from Llandudno — both parents and four children — were engulfed in a fireball when a wagon ploughed into their people carrier on the M6 in 2008. A laptop found on the wagon’s dash board was linked to the driver’s “gross inattention”. Three years on from that community-destroying tragedy and with the ban on drivers using a mobile whilst driving becoming law back in 2007, the threat to vulnerable road users — like people cycling to work because they can’t afford petrol — is worse than ever it was.
A useless law for the poor and vulnerable, a very effective law for the rich and famous!
Allan Ramsay, RoadPeace, Radcliffe
On one hand, it would be easy to dismiss Mr Ramsay’s letter as the opinion of one man with a vested interested – he is involved in RoadPeace, the road safety charity. You could also argue that comparing phone hacking to deaths caused by using mobile phones is similar to comparing the slashing of tyres to a stabbing – after all, both involve a knife.
But his letter did make me wonder whether the collision of the political and media worlds in the phone hacking scandal has distorted the perception of how important the issue is to members of the public.
Politics and the media share many skills in common: The ability to communicate, to present an argument, to uncover things people would like to remain under wraps. But both also share common traits – one of which is that both love talking about themselves. When they collide, perception can go out of the window.
I’m not saying phone hacking should be tolerated and allegations ignored, just that with everything else going around us at the moment, there is perhaps a need for a little perspective. Maybe in this case, that perspective comes from letters page of the Bolton News.