To be honest, I am not a big fan of the Sun newspaper. Its hypocrisy with its Scottish version urging readers to vote SNP and in its English version urging readers to vote Conservative; its nasty attacks on Labour and Ed Milliband that were clouded in half truths and its continuance with columnist Katie Hopkins vitriolic diatribes against the vulnerable are all good reasons for my antipathy. Yet it is the paper I get to read (it is the only one that happens to be available) while waiting for breakfast to be served in Deb’s Diner.
Today it came up trumps. There were two stories swirling around in my mind that I felt I should be blogging about and both to do with events, as unrelated as you can get so it happens, that occurred only yesterday. The first was to do with the unexpected death of ex-LibDem leader, Charles Kennedy, introduced with the front page caption: “a brilliant, lovely man destroyed by addiction”. The second was to do with the sudden resignation of the head of Fifa, Sepp Blatter, introduced with the front page caption: “Fifa boss quits as FBI turns its probe on him … Blatter on a platter”. While not a fan of the Sun, I give it credit for being able to encapsulate in a few words things that happen that are profound and pertinent, as it did on this occasion. Some cynics might add that given most of the readership is likely to be drawn by sound bites rather than carefully considered argument covering all the angles, it may be just as well.
As I get older, I find inevitably and increasingly people I know quite a bit about die, and when they have made an impact on me personally, I want to say something about them and pay my respects. For a number of my Facebook friends, that was true of Charles Kennedy. I was reluctant to chip in, not out of disrespect for, while I was sorry to learn the news, I couldn’t think of anything to say above the banal and what has been said already. I wasn’t a particular fan of Charles Kennedy, compared with a number of other politicians, and his political opinions did not particularly resonate with my own. However, I did recognize he was a formidable talent with a credible record, a smooth and competent operator and one who showed lots of humanity, wit and humour. I felt the Sun’s reporting was on the whole considerate and sensitive, especially in reporting the tributes paid by the good and the great. Its editorial starting: “In an age when the public is cynical about all MPs, it is worth remembering that we occasionally elect a gem …” is an example. But what struck me was that it brought out the other (darker) side, something few of us would want to admit to, even though if the truth be known it is something most of us endure, and it did so sympathetically as it did while covering his life and career. It was his alcohol addiction and some of the related demons in his life that particularly struck me. It is not my place to pontificate on how this related to Charles, his life and death and his contributions and missed opportunities, but it does bring to life an important aspect of a man who clearly made a profound impact in his sphere of operation despite difficulties and who will be missed by many.
Hardly a week has gone by since we heard the shocking news of senior Fifa figures being arrested on charges of corruption and despite that the election for Fifa president still taking place and the incumbent being returned with a substantial majority. All this I covered in my Fifa corruption blog and while I expected developments, including Blatter standing down, I didn’t expect these so soon. While I am reluctant to speculate, that is not something that seems to bother the Sun, but its editorial does raise some interesting points: “Sepp Blatter is not prone to guilt, remorse or self-doubt. Something substantial changed between this shameless defiance after his re-election last Friday and his humiliating exit yesterday. We suspect it won’t be long before the world knows what Blatter knows… His exit is a great day for football. But it is a measure of his regime’s rottenness that it is still only a start.” The paper, besides venturing an opinion there needs to be thorough clean-up operation to rid Fifa of all taints of corruption, thoroughly reported on what went on, although playing down the fact he remains popular, and for good reasons, in many Fifa quarters. I am cautious given there is an angle and like any angle it needs to be weighed. I am, however, grateful that the Sun did draw my attention to the matter and while I have views on what needs to happen next, including quickly exposing past shenanigans and how to build for the future, these don’t always align with those of the Sun. But I do agree and share their hope for wholesomeness to be restored and await developments with interest.