Tag Archives: bbc

Cole-Hamilton praises public service broadcasters’ role in telling truth about Ukraine war

Scottish Lib Dem Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton this week praised our public service broadcasters for their reporting of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He described how the BBC was keeping Ukrainian people informed through short wave broadcasts while Russian forces attacked other methods of communications. He pointed out that we don’t get that level of service from Netflix subscription.

His whole speech is below:

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16 January 2022 – yesterday’s press releases

  • Dowden defence of No10 parties ‘pathetic’ say Lib Dems
  • ‘Back off our BBC!’ say Lib Dems

Dowden defence of No10 parties ‘pathetic’ say Lib Dems

Responding to Oliver Dowden’s appearance on BBC Sunday Morning, where he defended the Prime Minister and blamed an ‘underlying culture’ for the Downing Street parties, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

This pathetic attempt to defend Boris Johnson will just fan the flames of public anger against this rotten Conservative government.

Boris Johnson is once again blaming those around him instead of taking responsibility.

If he really is angry about these parties, he must be furious with

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Hell has no fury like an editor scorned

Paul Dacre, a doyen of the right and former long term editor of the Daily Mail, is raging. In a letter published in The Times this morning, he tells the world that he wants to set the record straight following “increasingly hysterical speculation from the left-wing media” on whether he would be applying again to be chair of Ofcom. He tells us he will not be submitting a new application while lambasting civil servants for working from home and “exercising on their Peloton bikes and polishing their political correctness”.

This episode arises from an attempt by Boris Johnson to stich up the Ofcom appointment. When the original selection panel did not appoint Dacre, Boris Johnson called for the selection panel and criteria to be changed, echoes of how he later tried to change the rules over the suspension of Owen Paterson. This debacle has only pumped more oxygen on the flames of sleaze that are engulfing Boris Johnson’s government.

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How sound is our democracy?

The ongoing Paterson affair offers us the opportunity and motivation to analyse our fragile and imperfect version of democracy.

That MPs can, and sometimes do, receive large sums of money to represent the interests of organisations and individuals shows that, if unchecked and effectively unregulated, we are in, or on the way to being, a plutocracy and not a robust, deep democracy.

It would be more efficient to double the pay of MPs and ensure that they did not take monies from the fat wallets, individual or corporate.

The decreasing popular support of political parties makes them ever more likely to be taken over by the fat wallets, which also takes us along the path to plutocracy.

Limiting contributions to a ratio based on the minimum wage would limit this trend. Similarly, paying MPs on a ratio fixed to the minimum wage would bring a democratic facet to the relationship between the rulers and the ruled.

This might help mitigate the continuing inter-generational unfairness of recent decades. The “Deficit Myth” has been used to make tertiary education a commodity instead of an inter-generational gift. This has harmed tertiary education, of which there is not enough range, and impoverished recent generations who have been further harmed by rising housing costs, encouraged by HMG.

Democracy is more than an electoral system which returns a government for which the majority have not voted. One of the two parliamentary houses is not voted for.

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Towards a one-party culture in the media

We should all be concerned that not only is this a populist government, but they are using Boris to ensure that the media sees every event from their point of view, thus brainwashing people into thinking that any criticism is not to be taken seriously. We have long complained about lack of attention to the Lib-Dem leader, but we should be concerned about the lack of attention to the Labour leader too. Conservatives are intent on squeezing any challenge to the margins, including a diminishing of the independence of the BBC and the case of Martin Bashir and Lord Hall gives them the ammunition they need.

We must learn from what happened over Brexit when, for over a decade, the Brexiteers worked hard at getting more of the public on their side. We assumed that they so distorted the truth that people would see through them, but they did not, mainly because they spoke to people’s basic emotions.

We have seen the bias in comments about Dominic Cummings’ appearance before the select committee on 27th May, slanting it to the first Covid wave and Dominic’s own lack of credibility, rather than focussing properly on what actually happened, especially in subsequent events.  Before that ‘interview’ I wrote a letter to my local paper and it was published on 26th May:

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The new BBC guidelines are a threat to a healthy democracy

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The BBC faces criticism from people across the political spectrum for perceived bias. The left accuse it of being full of Conservative Oxbridge graduates; the right accuse it of being stuffed with do-gooding lefties. Remain voters shame it for giving Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson a disproportionate voice; Leave voters are convinced that its coverage verged on making it a campaigning tool for Remain. On the whole, this suggests that the BBC gets it broadly correct. I myself feel it leans too much towards a sort of moderate conservatism, but then as a proud liberal leftie myself, I suppose that’s only natural.

The question of what exactly can be considered political is an interesting one. On the face of it, introducing new rules to ensure political impartiality in an era when it has never been easier to inform the world of your views makes perfect sense. But the reality of this, and the extent of Tim Davies’ new rules, are nothing short of a chilling attempt to placate a government that wants to be set free from the constraints of scrutiny and criticism.

Perhaps most headline-grabbing of these guidelines is the ban on BBC journalists attending LGBTQ+ marches, on the grounds that it is a ‘controversial’ issue. It is shocking that in 2020, supporting equal rights for LGBTQ+ people is considered controversial. That in itself is a political statement, and a phenomenally illiberal one.

Then consider how inappropriate it is that a white, Cambridge-educated male who has previously stood as a Conservative councillor is telling his staff that they can’t attend Black Lives Matter demonstrations or express their support for the movement. That is arguably more of a political statement than allowing staff the freedom to express their opinions in a personal capacity. I’m sure that sixty years ago, expressing support for the civil rights movement in America would have been considered controversial. Two hundred years ago, opposing the slave trade might have been seen as overly woke, hand-wringing liberal nonsense.

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Watch Ed Davey on Question Time tonight!

Ed Davey makes his first appearance as leader on BBC Question Time tonight. The virtual audience comes from Chingford, which is one of the places where co-operation between us and Labour could get rid of a notorious Tory. In December, Iain Duncan-Smith scraped home ahead of Labour by 1200 votes. We polled 2700 in third.

Here’s the full panel:

Peter Borg Neal is the CEO of Oakman Inns so will no doubt have strong views on both being told to shut at 10pm and the economic announcements today. Devi Sridhar has become a very familiar face during the pandemic with her analysis of what is needed.

We have already called out the inadequacy of the Chancellor’s measures today. Christine Jardine slammed the lack of a proper plan for economic recovery and the lack of respect for the budget setting process in the devolved parliaments:

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15 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats secure PM commitment to independent inquiry
  • Consequences of Government cuts for BBC is now clear as day
  • Failing Graying has undone PM, now ISC must publish Russia report
  • PM running scared of real scrutiny from Intelligence Committee

Liberal Democrats secure PM commitment to independent inquiry

Acting Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has today secured a commitment from the Prime Minister to an independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis and called for the timetable to be set out immediately.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions today, Ed Davey warned that under Boris Johnson’s leadership the country has suffered “one of the worst death rates in the world and Europe’s worst death rate of health and care workers.”

Making reference to Boris Johnson’s support for an independent inquiry into the Iraq War, the Liberal Democrat Acting Leader again urged the Prime Minister to “commit in principle to a future independent inquiry”.

In response, the Prime Minister accepted his Government will “learn the lessons of this pandemic” and confirmed there will be in independent inquiry.

Ed Davey was the first party leader to call for an independent inquiry, back on the 21st of April, and the Liberal Democrats have consistently made the case since.

Speaking after the exchange, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

The Coronavirus crisis is taking an enormous toll on people and our country.

It is clear the Government has failed on so many fronts – failing to prepare properly for a pandemic, failing to protect care home residents and social care workers, and failing to properly communicate their plans and so much more.

With so many loved ones lost, people deserve to know what happened. After months of refusing the public that opportunity, I am pleased the Prime Minister has finally accepted Liberal Democrat demands for an independent inquiry.

The Prime Minister must now set out the timetable of this inquiry, and it must begin as soon as possible. The Government must be held to account to ensure that the same mistakes are never repeated.

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10 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Cross-party group urge BBC to save Politics Live
  • Homeless covid deaths should act as a wake up call
  • Government unwillingness to work with EU is unforgivable

Cross-party group urge BBC to save Politics Live

A cross-party group of MP​s have called on the BBC to adhere to its obligations as a public service broadcaster and make a “firm commitment” to the future of Politics Live amidst reports the show could be axed.

Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper, who coordinated the cross-party group, warned the BBC that dropping the show would “seriously harm the ability of the BBC to scrutinise and explain the consequences of …

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LibLink: Christine Jardine MP: Coronavirus crisis shows why the BBC is so special

Our public service broadcaster is the focus of Christine Jardine MP’s Scotsman column this week. She highlights the corporation’s role in keeping the nation informed in a way that other broadcasters simply can’t:

In this crisis more than ever in my lifetime I am aware of those two words which set the BBC and to a less extent Channel 4, apart from the purely money-making platforms of the technological explosion: public service.
How many over 75s, or low-income households would have been able to afford pay per view services to keep up to date with health advice or social services?

Would those independent

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BBC witch hunt

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I am not keen to join in the witch trial of the BBC, which is more about giving Conservative politicians less scrutiny and destroying competition for organisations that only want to get rid of the BBC, so they can rake in more money for their shareholders.

It isn’t possible to go to jail for paying the licence fee; that is a myth, you get a fine only. However if Council Tax, which is actually quite a similar charge, is a civil offence then the licence fee should follow, but that would also result in a fine. The only difference is the lack of a criminal record.

The licence fee rate was set by the Conservative Government when it wrote the BBC’s Charter in 2016, so the BBC can’t charge what it likes. Unfortunately there is no provision to vary the charge for ability to pay or a person’s wealth. Next opportunity to amend this is the charter renewal in 2027.

Most countries have a state broadcaster. Do we want to go down the road of Russia and have it state funded via taxation but controlled by the Government?

Do we want it to be an independent commercial company left at the mercy of market forces and see it ditch its unprofitable parts to avoid going bust?

Do we wanted it to be funded by its users and therefore free of Government but answerable to the audience? I prefer this but with more freedom to raise money from other sources (currently something like 25% commercial/other income and 75% licence fee), so the licence fee rate falls instead of rises.

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Don’t carelessly jettison the European inheritance of the BBC in trying to modernise it (Part 2)

Part 1 can be read here.

The clinching factor for all continental Europeans from 1939 was the role of the BBC World Service during the Second World War; and the fact that the BBC World Service on medium wave could be received on car radios, and on transistors on European beaches and gardens in many of the present EU member states. The stupidest budget cut of the Coalition Government in 2011 was, in my eyes, cutting this medium wave availability, restricting the BBC World Service to local DAB+ stations, and to BBC4 at 4.00 o’clock in the morning.

Don’t underestimate the prestige and love that the impartial, objective reporting of news by the BBC (from disasters like Dunkirk to victories like El Alamein) acquired in occupied Europe, where all peoples suddenly lost freedom of speech and got 1984-like manipulated news. The BBC in 1939-’45 also hosted national exiled broadcasters in their own time slots, like Radio Orange for the Dutch. In so doing the BBC even helped establish an obstreperous French officer (marginalised in his army top brass; a political nobody) with a battlefield commission as a lowest tier general, as a pivotal figure in all French politics from 1944 until his death in 1969. The BBC thus helped form EU postwar history; ITV or Sky can’t possibly claim that.

The BBC programming and drama meantime had a huge influence on the continent; smaller national broadcasters such as those in the Benelux countries readily bought BBC programs and directly rebroadcast them or reworked them. I learned my first English from the BBC “Walter and Conny” language course around 1967. The socialist broadcaster VARA put out the Onedin Line; and the daily NTS/NOS radio and TV news readily quoted and quotes the BBC on British and international events.

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Don’t carelessly jettison the European inheritance of the BBC in trying to modernise it (Part 1)

I’ve just been watching the BBC Newsnight broadcast of Monday 20 January 2020, which was mainly filled with debate about what the future of the BBC could or should be in this Netflix, social media platform world we live and work in today.

I’m deeply concerned that Britain, while thinking of how to adjust to the 21st century mass- and social media landscape (and post-Brexit geopolitics), risks ignoring the inheritance of prestige, respect and exemplary performance the BBC has grown to acquire with all inhabitants of the EU.

Now that Brexit is upon us, Britain risks losing the mobilising force in the EU of its BBC broadcasts and programmes. This is just at a time that the whole gamut of its institutional ties in the EU framework (with Euratom, Erasmus, Eurojust, EMA, EU Social Fund, etc, plus the Brussels diplomatic channels and Comitology) have been cut in one great, very foolhardy swoop, only partially and years later to be replaced with special bilateral arrangements between EU and UK.

These EU branches never were important issues in the Brexit debate in 2015-’19; the only time Downing Street discussed Euratom was around the moment of triggering Article 50, when they suddenly realised that mechanism would be jettisoned too. Erasmus and EMA are mentioned in passing.  See Tim Shipman, “Fall out: A Year of Political Mayhem”, Harper Collins, London, 2018, p24, 39, 116-7; look for the other terms in the indexes of this book and his “All Out War” on the Referendum: none!

Let me fill in some personal and Dutch facts so you can see where I am coming from in this debate.

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17 November 2019 – the overnight press release

Lib Dems begin legal challenge against BBC for Swinson exclusion

The Liberal Democrats have instructed a legal team to write to the BBC in response to the public service broadcaster excluding Jo Swinson from their election ‘leaders’ debate’.

In the letter, the party’s lawyers warn that the exclusion of one of the leaders of the three main UK-wide national parties is “clearly unlawful”.

President of the Liberal Democrats, Sal Brinton, has said “voters of this country deserve to hear from a Remainer on the debate stage, not just from the two men who want to deliver Brexit.”

The Liberal Democrats have …

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8 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: If the PM thinks NI deal is so good – why doesn’t the rest of the UK have it?
  • Lib Dems: BBC now complicit in establishment stitch-up to exclude Remain voice

Lib Dems: If the PM thinks NI deal is so good – why doesn’t the rest of the UK have it?

Responding to comments made by Boris Johnson that Northern Ireland has got a great deal by keeping access to the Single Market and free movement, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

The Single Market and freedom of movement are a great deal – even Boris Johnson

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Layla about to be on Have I got News for You

And it looks like it’s going to be a treat.

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ICYMI: Complain to BBC about coverage of Lib Dem local election win

There are two elements of the BBC’s coverage of the local elections that are simply ridiculous and need to be complained about.

The first is their oft expressed line that the message the voters were giving to the Conservative and Labour parties is that they wanted them to get on with Brexit.

So that would be why they voted in huge numbers for the party whose aim is to stop Brexit, then, is it?

The Liberal Democrats gained over 700 seats, a spectacular feat by any standards. We put in our best ever performance in terms of seat gain in a local election. The message is clear – a significant proportion of the electorate want this Brexit nonsense to be stopped.

The second

Seriously. The BBC’s flagship political programme has no guest from the Liberal Democrats on the weekend after we won a national election.

That has to be disgraceful by any standards.

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Jo Swinson on Question Time: Brexit is a national embarrassment and we can stop it

It’s Jo Swinson’s first week back from parental leave and already she’s done more than most of us letter mortals do in a month.

We’ll have more of that first week over the weekend but for now I want to concentrate on her appearance on Question Time last night.

She was brilliant – clear and passionate, describing Brexit as a national embarrassment and showing how a People’s Vote could get us out of the mess we’re in. The programme came from Islington, her fellow panellist Emily Thornberry’s patch but Jo got way more applause than the Labour shadow foreign secretary did.

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Brexit shambles descends into debate farce

You really couldn’t make up the state of British politics at the moment. The monstrous shambles that is Brexit is bad enough. A governing party riven by toxic split. An opposition that should be 20 points ahead in the polls but is excelling itself only in being more useless than the Government.

In recent days there has been talk of a tv debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn but even that can’t be sorted out. At the time of writing, Theresa May’s going to be on the BBC while Corbyn is cosying up to ITV, saying he wants it all over for the I’m a Celebrity final. I mean, really, the biggest substantive difference between the two is over which channel hosts the debate.

Certainly, if it ends up on the BBC, the trajectory of the evening will be markedly downward from Doctor Who to Strictly to the My Brexit’s bigger than Your Brexit despairathon.

It looks as though David Attenborough’s Dynasties will be booted to a later date. In a quiet but lovely corner of the internet, the wonderful Richard Flowers imagined the debate with an Attenborough voiceover:

Here… in the bleak midwinter… we see the skeletal remains of a Prime Minister being picked over by the vultures from her own Party, whilest a lst sheep in a loose collection of flappy organic rags bleats incoherant mantras about a Jobs First Bexit… And all about them, the country dies…

Vince, Nicola Sturgeon and the People’s Vote campaign are all rightly narked that they are being left out. I mean, after all, why wouldn’t they want to show an alternative opinion that might bring in more viewers?

This evening, Sal Brinton and Nick Harvey have written to BBC Chairman Lord Hall to suggest that the debate as currently planned might breach Ofcom rules. I’m not sure about that, because there’s no actual election, but the party is seeing legal advice. Here’s the text of their letter. 

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Dinosaur found at Westminster

The BBC’s Nicholas Watt seems to have been trawling the bars of the Parliamentary Estate looking for dinosaurs. And he struck gold.

Oh.My.Days.

I have a list of suspects, although that grows exponentially if we’re including Lords.

I have been saying for a while that we should paint in primary colours, that we should say what we really feel and not be too subtle.

Our Press Office stepped up to that plate tonight. Do not read on if you are easily offended.

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Now is not the time for the BBC to be cutting back its political programmes

This week the BBC announced changes to its political programming. When I say changes, I mean cuts. BBC Parliament will just cover Parliament and the devolved assemblies when they are sitting and the UK wide Sunday Politics is axed.

The main changes are outlined here:

A new team giving better digital and social coverage – including podcasts – of politics and parliament for audiences who are increasingly getting their news online, especially on mobiles. In an era of concerns about misinformation and ‘echo chambers’ this is designed to bring trusted impartial political coverage to younger audiences

A new daily political programme –

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Layla Moran: Brexit is a mess and we need a People’s Vote

Ahead of this afternoon’s Lib Dem Commons debate on the People’s Vote, Layla Moran has been on Victoria Derbyshire to talk about what a mess Brexit is turning out to be, how people didn’t really know at the time of the referendum exactly what it was going to mean and how we need a People’s Vote on the deal.

See a clip here.

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The secret world of Whitehall – and other BBC Michael Cockerell gems


British Houses of Parliament
If you’ve missed them when they were originally broadcast, YouTube has a wealth of BBC political documentaries for you to watch at leisure.

I missed Michael Cockerell’s “The Secret World of Whitehall” when it was originally broadcast. All three programmes from the series are on YouTube in full:

Episode 1 – The Real Sir Humphrey – This looks at the role of the Cabinet Secretary, chronicling the historic evolution of the role through its various job holders.

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LISTEN: to Layla Moran on Any Questions: We have a foreign secretary who is not fit for purpose

Layla Moran took a trip to Kent on Friday night to appear on the Any Questions panel.

She had invited local party members to help her practice earlier in the week.

She answered questions on Michel Barnier’s deadline, whether Boris should be sacked (even asking the question had the audience cheering and Layla’s answer was “yes, yes, yes”), the case of the young boy whose image is on a police database after he was reported for sexting and the idea of safe spaces

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Swinson: BBC Gender Gap should be a wake up call

We’ll all have seen those BBC pay figures today. How senior executives must have wept into their prosecco when Chris Evans proved to be such a failure on Top Gear.

On one level, you could be appalled at someone getting paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to read the news, or spout childish banalities on the radio. On the other, you can recognise that if they didn’t pay those rates, nobody we’ve ever heard of would be on the BBC – and as soon as we had heard of them, they’d be off.  Given the general high quality of the …

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We have a winner of our quiz!

Many congratulations to Catherine Crosland, who correctly guessed that the box pictured on the right is used by the BBC to create the sound of money/glasses of drinks being placed on the bar of “The Bull” pub in Ambridge during recordings of The Archers in Birmingham.

Catherine’s prize is the title of “2016 Sound effect guru of the year”.

Well done Catherine!

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Test your knowledge and ingenuity – quick quiz about a national institution

As we’re getting relaxed for the holiday season, here’s a quick quiz about a national institution. It’s not politically related but I suspect it’s on a subject dear to many readers’ hearts.

Look at the wooden box on the right. You can see that it’s nondescript, very battered and held together with insulation tape. It’s 35 years old.

It’s used to create the sounds of what could justifiably be called a “national institution”.

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2 very good reasons to complain to the BBC

BBC - Some rights reserved by Tim LoudonIt’s been a pretty sensational week for the Liberal Democrats. You know, the party that was devastated in last year’s general election and written off for good. Sarah Olney’s win in the Richmond Park by-election showed that there is plenty life in us yet.

Now, there seems to be some weird, perverse rule at the BBC which means that the more newsworthy and relevant the Liberal Democrats are at any moment in time, the less likely they are to be invited on the main political programmes.

On the day we won the Richmond Park by-election, you would have expected us to be represented on Any Questions, wouldn’t you?

Similarly, the sensational result should have merited an interview on Andrew Marr at least. But, no, the by-election was a footnote of the newspaper review.

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+++BREAKING NEWS+++ Time for “slow news”?

BBC1 Newsflash logo from black and white TVThere was a time when news of the death of the King took months to percolate through to all parts of the realm. Some villages heard the news when a random horse rider came through after taking a wrong turning. I like to think that some villagers in some instances didn’t hear about the death of the King until his successor had also died, but perhaps that is fanciful.

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No, Newsnight, it’s not ok to talk about us when we aren’t there to defend ourselves

We had some absolutely cracking press coverage this Conference.

In her speech yesterday, Sal Brinton read out a newspaper editorial which said lots of nice things about us:

This Sunday, one paper’s editorial headline was ‘Lib Dems’ revival is a blow to sorry Labour’,

and it then went on to say:

‘fair play to the Lib Dems.

under Leader Tim Farron the party has risen from the ashes of electoral oblivion to reposition itself as the only effective opposition…

The Lib Dems have not only capitalised on the fallout from the EU Referendum but also the disintegration of the Labour Party…

They are speaking up for ordinary voters on issues that really matter, such as the NHS and education.’

The Observer on Polly Toynbee’s day off?

The Independent?

No, this, my friends, is the Sunday Express!

I’m delighted that Tim is at last getting the recognition that he deserves, and I suspect that phrase ‘the only effective opposition’ might appear in a few leaflets and tabloids over the next few months.

Tim got loads of coverage, from Buzzfeed to the Guardian to the Standard in the run-up to Conference, and there has been positive coverage of his speech yesterday, too. George Eaton in the New Statesman says:

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