Opinion: Lib Dem Voice compromised its independent voice with Heathrow sponsored post

LDV Heathrow advertLib Dem Voice got it wrong yesterday publishing a propaganda article on behalf of Heathrow Hub. It compromised its integrity. It undermined its independent voice.

In my view, it is wrong in principle and wrong in practice to take the corporate shilling for editorial content.

The post on Lib Dem Voice yesterday came just three days into Heathrow’s big money PR offensive on “the plan for a quieter Heathrow expansion that isn’t being heard”, which began with a full page advertisement in the Sunday Times. Advertising is fine. But advertorials in a political context are not. They distort the editorial process because “he who pays the piper, calls the tune.”

I have no quarrel with advertising. I have no objection to being flooded with pro-Heathrow adverts on Lib Dem Voice or anywhere else. I would happily attend a conference where Heathrow adverts lined the walls of corridors and halls. But I would walk out if someone from Heathrow was allowed to speak from the stage simply because they had the money to buy a slot to speak in.

Lib Dem Voice gave access to Heathrow Hub not on merit, purely because it offered money. Needing money is not an excuse to abandon fundamental principles.

Accepting advertorials has a disrupting effect on the editorial process. We editors were told to ensure that it remained top of the home page for at least an hour. “Something major” could however override this diktat. That is an instruction that should never have been issued. Advertisers, or deference to their corporate shilling, should never dictate what editors do. We publish and we might be damned for it. That’s the most fundamental right an editor has.

There is no reasoned argument in the Heathrow article. It did not pass our usual editorial tests. It just exists because money exists and Heathrow has more than us. And we want its money.

In the last few years, Heathrow has built a very clever  propaganda machine. It understands American style lobbying. And yesterday it was being promoted by Lib Dem Voice. The Heathrow Hub PR team is no doubt raising glasses in celebration as I type.

Sponsored posts have a chilling effect.

At what point after the Heathrow advertorial are we allowed to publish a post condemning its plans? Corporate sponsors don’t pay to get their arguments immediately trashed.

Are we allowed to mention that it is bankrolling an allegedly grassroots survey of 500,000 residents, where the questions are loaded in its favour? When can we mention that those living in the noisiest, 63-decibel-plus areas around Heathrow are 24% more likely than people living in areas with lower noise levels to be hospitalised because of stroke?

My personal view is that  Heathrow is poisoning the community, environmental and political debate by throwing money at anyone gullible enough to accept it. In my view, its arguments deserve trashing not showcasing merely because the airport has money to throw at anyone who will publish on its behalf.

But Heathrow is not my main point. Yesterday’s error by the Lib Dem Voice team happened to be about Heathrow. It could have been any number of controversial subjects. Lobbyists now know that they have a direct route to the most read Lib Dem blog. Just by paying. They will want to use it.

Lib Dem Voice has crossed a line that should not be crossed – even if other blogs have long succumbed to it. Accepting the corporate shilling always erodes confidence in integrity.  Can LDV ever be seen as an independently minded blog again?

In my view, yesterday Lib Dem Voice compromised its independent voice. This never should have happened.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Friday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

Read more by .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

65 Comments

  • Yes, this.

    Still it did prompt a very silly fundraising idea that has the backing of the party president…

  • Ian MacFadyen 13th Nov '13 - 3:18pm

    What nonsense! Since when did Liberal Democrats try to silence opposing views? The article was clearly authored by Heathrow Hub and no one could be in any doubt as to its source. The editor was right to publish it.

    Our party is so blinkered, one sided and wrong in its approach to airport policy that it is good to have an alternative view for once. It’s a pity it has had to come this way, but until our party recovers some balance it is probably the only way it will happen. Sadly, with Susan Kramer now at the Department for Transport any balance and common sense is unlikely this side of the general election.

  • Who cares?

    What difference does it make, who’s going to think it amounts to support, who will get really worked up about it other than the proffesionally insulted.

  • I’m all for opposing views – but this is Lib Dem Voice. The opposing view should come from a Lib Dem who wants to put forward _their_ opinion in Heathrow. Not as an advertorial that was paid for.

    As Andy says “There is no reasoned argument in the Heathrow article. It did not pass our usual editorial tests. It just exists because money exists and Heathrow has more than us. And we want its money.”

    And that’s no way to run a political blog.

  • I refer you to the website description at the top of the page:

    “The most-read website by and for Lib Dem supporters. Not paid for by trade unions or millionaires.”

    So for accuracy the description should be amended to:

    “The most-read website by and for Lib Dem supporters. Not paid for by trade unions or millionaires – but partially funded by airport lobbyists”

    Oh a related point; those same airport lobbyists won’t be covered by the Lobbying and Trade Union Bill either 😉

  • Sadie Smith 13th Nov '13 - 3:41pm

    I do not like the ‘guested’ items which still give the impression that it is a Party position, or at least represents a strong strand of LibDem opinion.
    As for Heathrow, it is a dreadful airport. Luckily, I have been able to fly from Birmingham.
    Susan Kramer understands the funding of transport, and is the one Government spokesman who seems to grasp HS2 and it’s funding. Sensible use of her talents.

  • Andy Boddington 13th Nov '13 - 3:57pm

    Received 13 November:

    Dear Andy,

    I am writing in response to your blog on the sponsored post which appeared on Lib Dem Voice yesterday. That post was written and paid for by an organisation called Heathrow Hub Ltd, an independent group which has no affiliation at all with Heathrow Airport Ltd. We do not endorse their proposals for expansion at Heathrow – mainly because we don’t believe they provide respite from noise for local residents.

    Heathrow has advertised on LDV before, most recently in September of this year. We also wrote a blog post authored by my director at the end of 2011. But we have never sponsored or paid to have our opinion on your site. We will continue to engage with Liberal Democrats and all parties on our own proposals.

    Best wishes,

    Abigail Morris
    Public Affairs Manager
    Heathrow

  • David Allen 13th Nov '13 - 4:06pm

    Spurious respectability is what a sponsor wants. They know LDV does publish “independent view” articles. The implication in such cases is that the editorial team think “Hey, this guy’s views are interesting enough to be worth our readers reading, whether or not we happen to agree with them.” The implication is “Trust us editors, this isn’t just mindless puff, it’s worth a minute of your time”. Well, in future your gentle readers are going to be that bit less trusting.

  • Andy Boddington 13th Nov '13 - 4:07pm

    @Stephen Tall

    We editors were told: at 9:16am yesterday:

    “If we could try to ensure it remains post number 1 for at least an hour, and post number 2 for another, then any more posts throughout the day can be published as and when. Of course if something major happens feel free to go ahead and blog about it.”

    That reads to me that Heathrow Hub takes precedence over the passionate blogger that fuels the unique Lib Dem Voice.

  • Paul in Twickenham 13th Nov '13 - 4:32pm

    Take the money!

    The audience here is sufficiently sophisticated to ignore the superficial content and ask the obvious question “why are they trying to sell me this message?”.

    If you can get Wonga, British Gas and G4S to take advertorials you should do that too!

  • Andrew Martin 13th Nov '13 - 4:35pm

    I think Lib Dem Voice is a great resource and I don’t mind the occasional sponsored post to pay for this. It was made very obvious that the post was sponsored by colouring it green (uniquely) and putting “Sponsored post” before the title.

    LDV does not exclusively accept articles from Lib Dems, as shown by the frequent “The Independent View” posts. It all seems very transparent to me, much more so than any other website I frequent.

  • The issue that I had with the post, more than its existence, was that Comments were initially disabled. This gave the appearance of not being willing for there to be a debate about the issues raised and prevented the opposing view being put forward.

  • I don’t think closing down opposing views is very Liberal. The sponsorship was clear and declared.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 13th Nov '13 - 5:14pm

    “Maybe if you’re willing to take money from here then maybe you’re willing to take money from elsewhere just to drop the odd point in a non-sponsored post? It’s more effective as advertising if it isn’t explicitly flagged, so perhaps you get paid more for that? etc. etc. Or perhaps it is better to sideline certain opinions that are uncongenial to certain corporate interests who are willing to put money our way, after all we need to be seen as business-friendly etc …”

    That’s a bit rich, Alex. We surround a sponsored post in a totally new colour, make it very clear that it is a sponsored post and you get from that that we would accept payment for any other content on this site and not tell anyone? We behave transparently and you take that as an indication that we night not be transparent? I don’t get that at all.

  • See what I mean? It really is quite comical …

  • I cannot see that giving the post priority for one hour is a big deal.

    As long as the access to limited to that, I think the money raised can be put towards running the site.

    The viewers are savvy enough to decide for themselves whether to believe the post.

  • Richard Dean 13th Nov '13 - 5:56pm

    I thought the post was ok, except for the glitch at the beginning when Comments were off. It was clear that this was propaganda. I looked at the propaganda and the website that it linked to, and was impressed. I found the comments helped me to understand some of the “complexities”, shall we say. I was particularly grateful for Toby Fenwick’s comment which linked to the Guardian piece which was very revealing. So, all in all, for me, I think this was a worthwhile thing for LDV to have done.

  • Richard Dean 13th Nov '13 - 6:00pm

    In response to Andy Boddington’s report that editors were told “Of course if something major happens feel free to go ahead and blog about it”, I’d say that most of the big things in the world pass LDV by. There seems to be almost nothing realistic about foreign policy, in spite of the upheavals going on in relation to the Arab world, for example.

  • jedibeeftrix 13th Nov '13 - 9:02pm

    how is it different from any other independent view with a purple banner?

  • Andy Boddington 13th Nov '13 - 9:05pm

    I have resigned from the Lib Dem Voice team.

    There is so much more I could have done to support Lib Dems through Lib Dem Voice. But the line was crossed when yesterday we had to make way for Heathrow Hub’s propaganda.

    I have spent the last four decades fighting against people who could get a platform just by paying. We always fought. We never gave in. Sometimes we won. Sometimes we lost.

    But we never ever took the money. We never ever compromised our position. We never took the corporate shilling.

    I have spent at least one day a week working on Lib Dem Voice in the last few months. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I am sorry that has ended.

  • David Peters 13th Nov '13 - 9:35pm

    An unfortunate step, but why wait until today? surely this was discussed behind the scenes.

  • The Associated Press is apparently going to introduce sponsored posts/stories soon: http://www.netnewscheck.com/link/29708/ap-plans-to-roll-out-sponsored-fare-in-2014

    I didntt think there was anything wrong with the original post – apart from the fact that it didn’t allow comments for a brief period in the morning, there was nothing that mislead me to believe it came from LDV itself. In fact, after reading the comments I became more aware about the futility of the entire Heathrow expansion project.

    Lastly, I think these sponsored posts are far less intrusive than the regular ads. We’ve had wonga ads on here before, and mail order bride ads as well (I remember from a couple of years ago). This was relevant to a political audience.

    Keep up the good work editors, definitely a vote in favour here.

  • @andy bonnington
    Sorry to hear of your decision. You’ll be missed.

  • Eddie Sammon 13th Nov '13 - 10:42pm

    I am in broad agreement with Andy because I am generally not a fan of the indirect advertising market – I think if a product or service can’t stand on its own two feet, either through donations or fees, then there is not enough demand out there for it. I understand selling advertisements on billboards, but I don’t think it is necessary on websites. It also compromises the quality of the product, which makes it even more reliant on advertising in the future.

    However having said that, I don’t think it is a huge issue and not something that I was really personally bothered about. I respect the views of the team, thank Andy for his work and wish him all the best. I hope he still contributes to the website because he provides some good insights.

  • Andy sorry to see you go. There are often adverts that seem to be against LibDem policy but everyone knows adverts are random not selected because they are party policy. To allow a posting that was sponsored implies a degree of acceptance and the editorial team allowed it.

  • jedi’s question is interesting, If the lobbyist’s had submitted it for consideration as an independent view article, what part of the editorial process would have led to it not being published for free?

  • Eddie Sammon 13th Nov '13 - 11:09pm

    Andy is also right to say that it compromises independence which can have chilling effects. I’ve seen many “independent” financial advisers become dependent on the “corporate coin”, or commission, and you soon find yourself in their pocket and promoting their products in order to pay the bills. This happened to me, until I had a moral and pragmatic fit and stopped it all. Slow but independent growth is better than a fast tracked easy money route, which usually ends in disaster.

    PS, I’ll try to make some donations when I can! 🙂

  • Eddie Sammon 13th Nov '13 - 11:22pm

    By the way, I think accepting large donations from corporates is fine, it is just when they want something in return when the product begins to lose quality and that can be a slippery slope. This is what Andy is getting at.

  • Robson Brown 14th Nov '13 - 12:04am

    Ridiculous Andy. Readers can tell very clearly what is an advert and what is not. In addition, I have no interest in agreeing with what the Independent Voice slot wants to promote, but it always makes me think, which is what I do want.

    I’m afraid this argument smacks less of liberal principles, and more of not wanting Lib Dems polluted by the other side of an issue most members fall sincerely and strongly on one side of. I don’t understand why you have resigned over a debate piece and hope you will reconsider, as I have enjoyed tremendously your views and input to the site.

  • Matt (Bristol) 14th Nov '13 - 12:07am

    I have not always agreed with Andy’s posts, but think he was right to post his concerns. I have qualms about those promoting potentially politically controversial projects for commercial ends being given paid-for time.

    LD Voice aspires to be part of forming the debate and ethos of the grassroots part of a specific political party. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that a commercial organisation that pays for time in such a blog is ultimately aspiring to (indirectly) change the policy of that party in its favour. Even if this is overt and fully flagged-up, it just doesn’t feel like what I go on this site for. I do not want commercial interests lobbying me whilst I am here and if it’s going to be happening more often, I’ll be coming here less, and my process of thawing towards active lib-demmery will go back a bit.

    But obviously, if LD Voice feels it needs financially to carry advertorial, then maybe its readers and posters (including me) were not coughing up enough donations to sustain its independence?

  • Andy Boddington | Wed 13th November 2013 – 3:02 pm

    Andy Boddington is absolutely right. But it was difficult to find his comment and subsequent comments from others. In comparison the expensive Expand Heathrow Adverts are popping up all over the place n Liberal Democrat Voice.

    Why not just change the name from Liberal Democrat Voice to “EXPAND HEATHROW NOW AND DAMN THE CONSEQUENCES – incorporating Liberal Democrat Voice ”

    You could also change the strap line to “The most-read website by and for Lib Dem supporters. Not paid for by trade unions or millionaires, because we get so much cash from the Expand Heathrow Lobby. (OK I know they are millionaires but we have been prepared to make an exception in their case because they have given us so much money)”

  • Oh dear. A quick google around and I discover that Heathrow Hub Ltd is not a bunch of trade unionist enemies within.
    However, millionaires do seem to be involved. One such The Daily Telegraph reports is a Mr Hannam, whom they describe as a “star banker”.

    Mr Hannam, The Daily Telegraph tells us, was fined in April 2012 by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) – over allegations of non-deliberate market abuse, which he denies. He is now the majority owner of advisory firm Strand Partners. His other investments include Centaur, an Asian minerals business and Mansfelder Kupfer und Messing (MKM), a German copper fabricator.

  • Richard Dean 14th Nov '13 - 8:12am

    Compromise is what politics is about, particularly if you are in a coalition.

  • Interesting debate, which lead me to actually read the Heathrow piece, which I would not otherwise have done.

    I’m quite entertained by the idea LDV readers are so feeble minded that a propoganda piece on a controversial subject would pose a threat to our independence of thought. As posted above i) since when do liberals try to silence opposing voices and ii) am more informed about the debate after reading the comments.

    Money for advertising/clearly marked articles? It’s an imperfect world and resource has to come from somewhere. I’d far prefer a clear exchange where what is being bought – ad space/an opportunity to post – is in plain sight , than a large, undeclared donation and private chats.

  • Jeremy Hargreaves 14th Nov '13 - 9:23am

    As long as its clearly flagged as sponsored, it’s fine. It also does us no harm occasionally to be a bit less inward-looking.

  • For all those saying ‘I’m not persuaded by propaganda’, that’s great for you, but do you think political arguments should gain prominence based on the wealth of the support, not the breadth?

    If LDV had taken a sponsored post on buying a certain deodorant, or car paid for by the manufacturer then it might be less controversial. However, taking money to promote a political argument is the worst kind of lobbying, and something that would be unacceptable in an elected representative of any party, not least one that claimed at the last election to be cleaning up politics.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 14th Nov '13 - 10:04am

    I’m glad to see the comments thread has turned into an interesting discussion, and it is exactly the sort of feedback which the editorial team wanted to receive to consider whether we run future sponsored posts.

    When we were first approached about the idea I was neither enthusiastic nor instinctively opposed. I thought it was worth trying.

    Presumably all commenters here start from the shared position that they want LDV to continue and to prosper, and accept that to do so it must raise funds.

    The site’s overheads to actually keep it up and running are relatively low, and are covered by the adverts and small trickle of donations. But if we want to, for example, host events at conference like the LDV Awards, we have to raise more: events cost anywhere between £500-£1000 per go.

    And I for one would like to see us holding two or three events.

    LDV has no single generous benefactor. The small donations we receive are not sufficient. So we have to have adverts. In an ideal world I’d prefer a site that is completely advert-free, but unless something drastic changes that is not a realistic possibility.

    On sponsored posts I broadly take the view that a number of commenters including Jeremy before me take, which is that they are fine if they are relatively infrequent and clearly labelled.

    It’s the same as those newspaper advertorials mocked up to look like articles. But because they are clearly labelled I can just skip past them.

    Indeed as somebody else pointed out, sponsored posts may even be better than the usual adverts, because you only have to ignore them once, rather than seeing them on every page of the site.

    We plan to ask about the issue of sponsored posts in our next members survey, and would welcome any additional feedback to the usual email address ([email protected]).

    I also had the idea that one thing we could do is set a fundraising target (say £5000) and a deadline by which to raise it. If we raised that sort of money we could agree to remove or at least significantly reduce adverts for, say, one year. At the very least it would focus people’s minds on the crucial point: do you want LDV to be basically free at the point of use, and therefore carry adverts, or would you rather chip in along with your fellow readers and have no adverts?

    Any thoughts welcome in this thread or to the email address above.

  • @Karen W
    “since when do liberals try to silence opposing voices”

    Straw man. Nobody has suggested silencing opposing voices.

    What were they paying for exactly, given they could have submitted a piece without paying? The answer is given above – they were paying to circumvent the editorial standards applied to everybody else and to give their piece more prominence than everybody else.

    Can someone at LDV towers please answer the following:

    1. If a trade union also wishes to pay to circumvent the editorial standards applied to others then would you be happy to oblige? If not, why not?

    2. How much did you receive? There’s no reason for you not to answer this given you’re members of a party committed to transparency.

  • Being a simple chap at heart I think advertising should be advertising and posting should be posting and never the twain should meet. Presumably LDV is receiving worthwhile funding from the Heathrow Hub adverts currently popping up all over the site and indeed other adverts. Is this not enough? I think the “sponsored post” concept sets a very dangerous precedent. If it is an experiment I am among those who would very much hope it is not rolled out any further.

  • JohnTilley 14th Nov ’13 – 7:39am
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Would it help the moderation process if were to hand over a bucket of cash?

    I am neither a trade unionist nor a millionaire so I should be acceptable to those who are “Not paid for by trade unions or millionaires.”

  • I am interested in the way in which some comments have gone down the cul-de-sac of whether Liberal Democrats are smart enough to spot the difference between an advert and a genuine comment.

    I would like to ask the people making this point what they understand by the sentence – “Not paid for by trade unions or millionaires.”

    To be fair I do not remember any adverts from Trade Unions recently. So maybe they could just restrict themselves to explaining what they understand by “NOTpaid for by millionaires.”

  • chris j smart 14th Nov '13 - 11:13am

    Slippery slope, dangerous precedent; are the comments I agree with.
    A readers survey to show the feeling for and against sponsored articles is a good move.
    The balance sheet of the voice showing income and where the expenditure goes would also be useful to persuade reluctant donors to cough up before selling a platform for any old dubious cause.
    The Lib Dems have history when it comes to taking money from dubious sources and it has done little for our reputation.
    This link http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/12/heathrow-hub-quieter-four-runway-airport provided by a previous contributor indicates that we have learnt little from our previous mistakes.

  • Any chance of a compromise on this? It’s a pity to see people resigning over it. It’s also sad to see claims that “Readers can tell very clearly what is an advert and what is not”, which misses the point.

    First of all, just colouring the header green hardly cuts it as a way of distinguishing advertising material. “Sponsored Post” is also ambiguous – it does indicate that money has been paid, but it suggests that LDV might in any case tend to favour the post. Why not simply head the article “ADVERTISEMENT”? Further, it should be preceded by a disclaimer along the lines that “LDV has been paid to publish this advertisement. LDV does not endorse the viewpoints put forward in paid advertisements”.

    If you did that, you’d make me reasonably happy with your policy (which would be a first!)

  • My main issue with the piece was the lack of comments; there were some things I wanted to challenge / query, and for me that was the issue with the article rather than the Sponsored nature. We take independent posts from all manner of interest groups and to get one to pay you for the priviledge is some achievement. My red line would be if there was a ban on opposing posts / comments – but there’s no suggestion that’s the case here.

    Posts you disagree with and make you think are far more interesting and useful than ones just spouting fluff that’s easy to agree with and which serve nothing other than providing confirmation bias.

    I think it’s a shame Andy’s felt so strongly about this that he’s made the decision he has; I’ve enjoyed his contributions and feel this is a small issue in the grand scheme of things.

  • “It’s the same as those newspaper advertorials mocked up to look like articles. But because they are clearly labelled I can just skip past them.”

    Surely the whole point of mocking them up to look like articles is that not everyone will notice they aren’t articles?

  • Paul in Twickenham 14th Nov '13 - 2:54pm

    Curiously enough I have just gone to LDV through a corporate server based in the USA. The ad on screen says “Should Obama be impeached? ” and has TeaParty.org as the link. But it’s OK because it’s clearly an ad. Perhaps paid material could be presented differently from regular material – for example in the small boxes just under the masthead – but I think it’s important to maximise your revenue for a small website like this.

  • David Allen 14th Nov '13 - 5:40pm

    Dave Page, LDV gives posts a measure of “respectability” by refereeing them. It turns some down (as I know!), for reasons its staff believe are objective ones, such as “not different enough from what Bloggs posted last week”. No doubt LDV also turns down racist rants, cookery recipes, advocacy of yogic flying, naked self-promotion, etcetera. Given all that, a post that gets accepted inevitably gains a measure of respectability.

    It follows that if ads are to be accepted, it must be very very clear that they are ads.

  • Well, if I were running LDV, and if Nick Thornsby is right that regular advertisements and donations are enough to cover the costs of the website itself, then I’d avoid posting articles in return for money, and seek funding for the optional extras elsewhere, But obviously I’m not.

  • @Chris
    It may be that the intention is to make them look like articles but is that really so bad?
    A much bigger issue with LDV in my view is that it does not engage people like Clegg. I would like to see influential people actually respond to criticisms and actually get involved with the debate so we can see what criticisms are valid and what criticisms are not valid.

  • @ Nick Thornsby

    I’d be more than happy to pay a regular subscription to keep LDV going. I do worry about these sponsored articles, as Lib Dems we have to preserve at all costs that we are not influenced by ‘Big Business’ or the Trade Unions.

    Kind of like Linkedin and other websites maybe you could offer a ‘premium membership’ option that gives you a funky little icon next to your name and a few other little perks?

    @ Andy

    Sorry to hear you felt you had to resign. I always think when there’s something wrong with an organisation once you’re resigned you cant really do much to change that organisation. I do hope you reconsider.

  • “It may be that the intention is to make them look like articles but is that really so bad?”

    I was replying to Nick Thornsby’s observation that because ‘advertorials’ were clearly labelled he could easily skip them. I think the whole point of them is that not everyone does realise what they are – at least when they begin reading them.

  • Toby Fenwick 14th Nov '13 - 10:41pm

    Andy, sorry to see you go.

    Nick – happy to pay a sub to support LDV.

    Richard – glad you found it helpful. Good work from the Guardian.

  • Chris,

    “I was replying to Nick Thornsby’s observation that because ‘advertorials’ were clearly labelled he could easily skip them. I think the whole point of them is that not everyone does realise what they are – at least when they begin reading them.”

    Yes indeed. I have suggested, above, how LDV could change the labelling and make sure everybody does realise what they are. Silence from LDV in response. Presumably that’s because the advertisers would not accept a clear “ADVERTISEMENT” label.

  • Geoffrey Payne 15th Nov '13 - 1:10pm

    From my personal point of view I know what I think about Heathrow expansion and I could see where this article came from and it did not allow any comments underneath. I saw it as the price we pay for having a free site. I would like to think it had no impact at all on what LDV readers think on the topic. However they have thought differently which is why they done this. I suppose it gives the impression we are beholden to the interests of lobbyists, which is not good. But on the whole I would describe my position is that I would rather you didn’t but I am not too fussed that you did.

  • Andy Boddington 15th Nov '13 - 1:47pm

    Thanks everyone for your comments

    I am very sad to be out of LDV. I enjoyed trying to drag in the environmental and community voices. I loved editing awkwardly written articles to give writers the grandstand they deserved. It was great to work with the other editors, who are a great and gentle team.

    But I am not prepared to share a stage where a murky corporate lobbying group pays for the headlines, or has the ability to do so. It’s my free time. There is so much more I can do with one day a week that is more ethical than publishing alongside dubious corporate propaganda.

    I owe an apology to my former editorial colleagues for a bruising exit. I had not understood that a group view had been made on corporate advertising – the discussion was just as I was bedding in as an editor. I missed the point that a decision on taking corporate shillings had been made. That’s my fault.

    That knowledge would not have changed my anger. I’ve fought against corporate machines trying to buy public opinion since my teens. It’s built into in my campaigning DNA. I can’t now change my mind that taking money from bodies like Heathrow Hub is fundamentally unethical. Because it so obviously is.

  • @Andy Boddington
    I cannot agree that this is “fundamentally unethical”. All that the Voice offered was placement of an article for a certain period of time. It is not buying public opinion, merely trying to influence it with arguments.

    People here are smart enough to weigh the arguments and come to a conclusion. Remember the Streisand Effect? Who is to say that an attempt to influence may not backfire?

  • chris j smart 14th Nov ’13 – 11:13am
    repeats link
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/12/heathrow-hub-quieter-four-runway-airport

    From which I have pasted the following to underline the point about millionaires –
    Fronting the campaign alongside Bostock is Captain William “Jock” Lowe, the longest serving Concorde pilot. Bostock said they were backed by venture capitalists but declined to specify who. One backer is Ian Hannam, former chairman of global capital markets at JP Morgan, who is currently appealing against a £450,000 fine from the Financial Services Authority for passing on inside information. Hannam bought stakes in Runway Innovations Ltd, which owns the rights to the Heathrow Hub scheme and whose directors are Bostock, Lowe and two others.

    Bostock confirmed that all four directors are shareholders in the firm which acquired options for the land “three or four years ago”. Asked if that meant they did have a vested interest, Bostock said: “From that point of view, yes.”

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • John Marriott
    @James Fowler Which is more or less the rôle the FDP undertakes in Germany. They are lucky to reach double figures in % terms and get most, if not usually all...
  • Jeff
    …there is good reason to believe that the Omicron mutant may not have developed, or we would be able to control it better, if the developed world had made ...
  • Jeff
    The WHO issued a veritable flood of dire warnings. Dozens of NGOs did the same. So did an army of globalists who argued that… It’s not who says wh...
  • James Fowler
    @ Peter Watson, thank you! @ Joe Bourke, linking Parties the factors of production, I'd suggest: The Labour Party - well, the clue is in the name. The Conserva...
  • Jane Ann Liston
    I fear you are right about the Tories being highly motivated to vote. At the last election in St Andrews, the Conservatives stood a final-year student, who w...