I have been in Malta for a few days, at a long-arranged family law conference. It turned out to coincide with the vote in Malta to allow divorce for the first time, and the passage of the new divorce bill. The Prime Minister and the Archbishop attended part of the conference. The Maltese population is 95% Catholic and take this issue very seriously. They are also very close to the N. African coast and preoccupied with events there and in the rest of the Arab world. Perhaps this distance helped me try to get our current domestic crisis in perspective. I am particularly concerned that we have lost our counter terrorism chief over hacking-related allegations, having heard him on the radio asserting his innocence. I understand the need to put limits on the Murdoch empire and what is driving the vehemence of parliamentarians and the rest of the press, and I understand the dreadful implications of police corruption. Now we have the Leveson inquiry, the Grabiner inquiry, the Filkin inquiry (good for her, the woman who appeared to have been ousted from her post as Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards because she was doing the job almost too well). In the meantime, are we taking our eyes off worsening unrest in the Middle East, a further lurch into world recession, serious trouble in Libya and Afghanistan and all the other world crises? I suspect their repercussions will be with us long after the hacking scandal has receded. And I wonder why the public seems less moved by our domestic news shocker than are the media and politicians, or so it seems. Dismay, but no surprise. Newspapers are of less relevance to the younger generation, who increasingly take their news from the internet.
PS Congratulations to the newly elected speaker Baroness d’Souza, welcome news for all and especially women and crossbenchers.