There is somewhere in the anglophone world ingrained, sometimes deeply, sometimes more superficially, a peculiar sense of fairness. The post title is of course Australian vernacular - a phrase that even finds a place in the citizenship handbook, defined as "what someone achieves in life should be a result of their hard work and talents, rather than their wealth or background". It's a pretty good example of how the English language can take several meanings; 'A Fair Go' means equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. Outcomes should be dependent neither on inherited privilege nor on protected status.
This idea of fairness is redefining our political landscape. It's powerful. Douglas Murray points out in the Telegraph that even the BBC, normally impervious to accusations of unfairness, has had to admonish two presenters, Emily Maitlis and Naga Munchetty, for being so blatantly unfair on-air that it was an embarrassment to the broadcasting behemoth. Murray writes
The idea of impartiality in news has always been something of a misnomer. The choice of which story to cover owes something to the preconceived ideas of whoever makes that decision. What we are now seeing is the line between commentary and reporting becoming increasingly blurred.The point about the BBC is that everyone has to pay for it; one can choose whether or not to buy the Sun or the Mirror, but not the BBC. As I have written previously, if the BBC has passed the point of balance between Leave and Remain, it has forfeited the right to the Charter - due for renewal in 2027.
As partiality in its different forms becomes ever more flagrant, the idea that broadcasters are at least making an honest attempt at being unbiased is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. All this raises the prospect of British media following the example of that in the US, where nobody expects anything but partisan coverage.
The Speaker, too, has failed to chair a chamber in a way that embodies fairness. His petulant holiday tantrum in which he promised to the media to block the government, his dodgy egoistic partial judgements from the chair, his bullying and bias all mean he has lost utterly the respect of the nation.
The current turmoil is a battle on many levels - but most fundamentally it is a battle for fairness, between a crude alliance between those with inherited privilege and those with protected status on the one hand, and the mass of the people on the other. The former have, in the words of Betz and Smith, captured the State;
With the rise of the new political classes, a different political dynamic is emerging. Drawn from similar backgrounds (often middle-class, university educated, with little prior career experience outside politics itself), members of parliament increasingly sound alike, think alike and act alike. The evolution of a monochrome political establishment is producing a radical disconnect, which the Brexit denouement is throwing into stark relief. What we appear to be witnessing is the corrupt mutation of the notion of the representation of the people in parliament, into the substitution of the will of the people by the interests of the political class. We are entering the realms, no less, of state capture. What happens when sectional interests capture the political institutions of the state? This is a question we will get to, but first it is worth reiterating that in many senses this has been a long time coming, and to emphasise, in the British case has little or nothing intrinsically to do with Brexit.On this level, what the dominant class are given to sneering at as 'populism' is actually a protest from a vast mass of people, who thought they were living in a democracy, that the entire system had become unfair - advantaging the political elite and their supporters at the expense of the mass of the people.
In that light, watching hereditary Labour millionaires such as the younger Kinnocks, Straws, Benns, Sawars, Soames and Millibands pontificating about anything at all 'for the many not the few' becomes farcical. Watching Owen Jones working himself up into a mouth-frothing fury in defence of globalist corporations and gay-murdering factions is free entertainment and listening to anything said at all by Shami Chakrabarti on people misusing their power and privilege is pure comedy. Even Labour MPs who took advantage of the Brighton conference to take their kids out of the dorms for a weekend exeat from their £30,000 a year public schools ('but keep clear of the press when you're out ..') whilst promising to abolish such schools on the platform provided exemplars of a depth of hypocrisy rarely seen in public politics. A Fair Go is not for them. For any of them.