This was the front page headline of Liberal Democrat News (the only UK major party weekly political newspaper) on 26 November 2004. It referred to a speech by party leader, Charles Kennedy MP, before the Labour Government's Queen's Speech announcing its legislative programme for the year in Parliament. Kennedy spoke out in favour of action on the environment, crime prevention and preventing re-offending and against a using a climate of fear to force through repressive measures. The issues resonate just as much five years on.

A leading children's charity recently repeated the message that politicians should not promote fear but highlight positives relating to young people. National and local politicians have been too guilty of pandering to some uninformed hysteria on this. The charity's report gained sensationalist media coverage but fair reporting by the BBC. There are other examples of relevant media reports at the end. (This story was a few months ago about the time 'Catch-22' carried out a survey for the Philip Lawrence Awards, it may have been the same issue).

As the news media in Britain for a couple of months in the Autumn have resorted to silly season stories and tribal political attack it is worth reflecting that the role of politics in society can and should be above this. Politicians should provide leadership as well as simply following popular opinion. The leadership of many in Britain has been sadly lacking of late but the media would hardly give them a chance to lead a public debate even if they tried. (In these pot shots at politicians I should declare some say I used to be one, though I always called myself a political campaigner, and didn't gain high enough office to be a real politician anyway!). My own political party the Liberal Democrats are unfortunately not above the political 'yah boo' that their Leaders often speak against but do have a track record both of speaking out for a change of approach and of common sense policies. That is a good start.