Sometimes it’s a great job being a news editor. Like the BBC staffer putting together the national news for radio on Tuesday morning.
Lead off with the Conservative party election pledge to increase the life sentence for child murderers to … er … really life. Add factual qualification: this might apply in a dozen cases each year.
Follow that with the Labour party’s commitment to double the number of police dealing with … ‘wildlife’ crime. Sadly no definition for the unwoke. Perhaps visualise illegal fox hunting and stealing rare Osprey chicks? Or take it as a more general signal combining environmental virtue with disapproval of unregulated capitalism and privileged field sports.
Those of a depressive nature will compare this electoral gimmickry with the high seriousness of which politicians are undoubtedly capable, referencing past parliamentary debates on contentious subjects like capital punishment, or even occasionally Brexit. The contrast is stark.
But there is possibly a silver lining. The prominence given such insignificance may be because both parties are shying away from radical upheaval in criminal law and its enforcement. While good ideas remain on hold, very bad ones at least are being avoided.
Gimmick policies let political entrepreneurs test ideas on a less harmful scale. They can placate a fringe minority. Their owners can use them to steer the debate towards areas they think really matter.
The old Churchill saw about democracy being the worst form of government, except for all the others, still seems relevant.