Norway still refusing to play the blame game. The benefits of a Daily Mail free land
Posted on 20 October 2011 | 5:10am
Just back from a run round still dark but very clean and pretty Oslo. My hotel is opposite the government buildings where on July 22 a bomb ripped through the heart of the city, in part as a decoy for the even bigger massacre to come at the Labour Party summer camp in Utoya.
You don’t have to be here long, or indeed to be long into any conversation, before the subject comes up. And I cannot help wondering, as I wondered at the time, whether we Brits would have been quite so calm, stoical and non-blame-gaming as the Norwegians appear to be.
The sense of shock is still there, and people still want to say where they were when they heard, what they felt, what they did, what connections they have with the people who died. But even though the official reports into the massacre may have things to say about the police response, people seem to give them the benefit of the doubt, and point out just how hard it is to guard in a free country against the acts of a madman.
The very nice lady who collected me from the airport volunteered that she was ‘not of your political persuasion’ but then proceeded to tell me how well she thought Labour PM Jens Stoltenberg had handled the crisis. I said the impression I had in the UK was not just that the politicians handled it well, but the people too.
Then as I ran past the news-stands this morning, I wondered if the difference between the two countries was the nature of the media. Norway does have a lively tabloid press, but it is less driven by the desire to blame than ours is.
Whenever there is a horrible event in the UK, the authorities seem to get the benefit of the doubt for a day or so. Then the blame game begins. Here, several months on, it seems it is still not being played. That may be about differences between us as people. But I doubt it.
Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre made a big defence of a free press last week. But it is papers like his, and attitudes like his, that Norway lacks, to its great credit and to its benefit too.