Patriotic media – an odd concept in a democracy

For some bizarre reason, the Tories seem to have let Andrea Leadsom out of the cupboard where they’ve been hiding her for the past wee while. On Newsnight last night, she told Emily Maitlis while under reasonably moderate pressure on Brexit that broadcasters should be more “patriotic.”

To suggest that the media should not question the Government’s actions on the most important issue facing our country in generations is chilling. The media should be there to scrutinise the government. It’s an important part of the scrutiny process.If it had done its job properly last year, we might not be in the mess we are in.

A press free to criticise the Government is one of the most basic elements of our democracy. Governments should expect to have their feet held to the fire. As it happens, I actually think that they get too easy a ride from some elements of the right wing press over Brexit.

Tim Farron was similarly horrified by Leadsom’s comments, saying:

This is a sinister threat to the free media.

How dare Andrea Leadsom tell the press what they should think, this isn’t a George Orwell book.

She needs to apologise for these comments and realise what she said was frankly stupid.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • tonygreaves 24th Jun '17 - 8:18pm

    Odd indeed. Or perhaps just autocratic or even sub-fascist. Still, Mr Erdogan and Mr Putin would agree, along with lots of other undesirables, and it seems to underlie Mr Trump’s continuing war with much of the American media.

    Talking of war, that’s what much of the British media was lining themselves up to report – the Third European War – as Mrs May & Co (with a majority of a hundred and a new “Mandate”) went into battle against Mrs Merkel, Mr Juncker and the rest of the successors to the Kaiser and Mr Hitler, not to mention France’s new Napoleon. They are all a bit more confused now, apart from the Express that continues to live in its own buddle of fantasy and fake news.

  • David Pocock 24th Jun '17 - 11:45pm

    I likely should not reply as im currently calm in a cocktail bar buuut.

    Nationalism is not patriotism and nor is a tyranny patriotic. Britain deserves better really.

    Signed a patriotic internationalist liberal.

  • Leadsom is either sinister or barmy. It’s probably both.

    And to think this is a modern cabinet minister.

  • Richard Underhill 25th Jun '17 - 8:19am

    Leadsom was reshuffled from Enviroment to leader of the house of commons, in which role she announced that there will be no Queen’s Speech next year, so the minimal recent one will need to last for two years.
    A Lord Chancellor who failed to defend the judiciary was also reshuffled. Sadly the opportunity to put Ken Clark back in that role was not taken. He already has the gear and is a former barrister.

  • As Tim said it would be sinister indeed….

  • This is a worrying trend. We’ve seen a lot of it from the Trump regime, and those who follow Scottish politics will have seen many accusations of talking Scotland down. I am pleased that this little outburst was met with shock and a certain amount of outrage, but we need to be clear that governments must not bully journalists and prevent this spreading further.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th Jun '17 - 10:14am


    What was particularly ironic was the SNP statement about governments telling broadcasters what to say. How did they manage that with a straight face?

  • Richard Underhill 25th Jun '17 - 12:00pm

    “the Tories seem to have let Andrea Leadsom out of the cupboard”. According to a newspaper reviewer (from the Spectator) on the Andrew Marr Show it was her decision.
    Peston on Sunday on ITV was decked with union flags in front of a Tory MP, bacon butties, no croissants. The program is repeated this evening at 10.20 pm after the news.

  • Richard Underhill 25th Jun '17 - 12:11pm

    Vince Cable was also On Peston on Sunday. He has been expecting that there will be another candidate and started to address the issues the next leader will face.

  • Sue Sutherland 25th Jun '17 - 12:55pm

    Both May and Leadsom seem to think we’ve embarked on a war with the EU, or want others to think that, so losing a few freedoms is appropriate. They seem to think they’re acting in the national interest rather than on behalf of a minority of the population.

  • Bernard Aris 25th Jun '17 - 2:44pm

    I’m surprised people are stil surprised by Leadsom’s comments after her glorious appearance in the BBC reconstruction of the 2016 Tory Leadership contest, which drew quite a crowd in Dutch political circles; a liberal Dutch Newspaper (NRC Handelsblad) called it “even better than the British, original House of Cards”.

    A good patriot is like a good friend: ready to criticize what you as a person or a government do wrong. What is the Leadsom definition of friendship?

    @ Ciaran Goggins
    That BBC reconstruction, and the broadcasting of the original British “House of Cards” are clear rebuttals of your “MSM in the pocket of Westminster” conspiracy theory.
    Lately, it has been the non-MSM’s like Fox News which have been discredited by their personell policies (Fox News: founder sacked for Uber-like treatment of women); Main Stream Media like the Washington Post and CNN (with its drawing of the Presidential Press Conference where TV camera’s are banned because MSM are sooo subversive broadcasting what is actually said and done) are flourishing and more read and trusted than before.
    in a democracy, no political party or “movement” (Corbyns Monumentum, Tory Brugues Group) whatsoever should be allowed to steal the national flag, irrespective of their ideology or ideas…

  • I think there is nothing odd about having a “Patriotic media … in a democracy”, just that we need to be clear what we mean by ‘patriotic’.

    It is obvious that to Andrea Leadsom, ‘patriotic’ means not questioning this Government’s actions – which just so happen to represent a total u-turn on previous pro-EU policy espoused by successive UK Governments and by successive Conservative party leaders and manifestos.

    I suggest it is patriotic for the media to closely scrutinise political decisions so as to ensure they are considering the interests of the democracy/country as a whole and not just those of a select and probably mostly self-appointed few.

  • Even as what the BBC called the ‘outgoing’ Lib Dem Leader, Tim Farron came accross very well in attacking Andrea Lothesome on this comment.
    So why exactly did the “men in grey suits have to twist his arm to resign now?
    Surely we would have been better leaving Tim place for as long as he wanted to be there, or until a Leadership election was triggered under the party rules?

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