Tag Archives: media

LibLink: Vince Cable: Why the Murdochs’ takeover of BSkyB should be blocked

It’s like 2010 all over again.

The intervening years have not made Vince Cable any more amenable to Rupert Murdoch and his Empire.

He’s been writing in the Evening Standard explaining why the Murdochs should not be able to takeover BSkyB.

The grounds for opposing the takeover are two-fold. The first is that concentration of media ownership is already a concern and will become worse if the takeover goes ahead. The Murdochs’ 21st Century Fox is the leading supplier of newspaper content (through The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times), the leading supplier of news content through commercial radio and the third-leading supplier of TV content via Sky. While there has been a proliferation of internet sites carrying news, few of these generate content; they are aggregators for the big players…

And that’s before we even think about the “fit and proper person” test.

In 2012 Ofcom issued a damning report on the conduct of James Murdoch, then chairman of News International, about his attitude towards the egregious wrongdoing identified in the phone hacking scandal, as forensically probed in the Leveson Inquiry. Ofcom concluded that Sky should be regarded as “fit and proper” to hold a broadcast licence only if there was minority Murdoch control of Sky, and if James Murdoch was not in an executive role. But the takeover will result in 100 per cent control and Murdoch will be chief executive. When last in the Sky studios, staff told me there is a beautifully appointed office with a marble-topped table and specially designed chairs awaiting his arrival.

And the wrongdoing at the News of the World was — it emerged — considerably worse than when the 2012 report was written. Since that damning Ofcom judgment there are even bigger reasons for questioning the corporate governance arrangements over which Murdoch presided. Since 2012 there has been a succession of sexual and racial harassment cases at 21st Century Fox.

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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:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

This election is about protecting our democracy

Remember the Brexit “Battle Bus” with this slogan, “We send the EU £350 million a week lets fund our NHS instead Vote Leave”? It was powerful and “misleading” according to the UK Statistics Authority. Mr Farage referred to it as a “mistake”.

No! “The number plastered on the side of the Brexit bus was a big fat lie.” 

It was not a mistake because it affected the “Brexit” result the way Mr Farage wanted.

In short, we were misled and those who subverted our democracy with this deception have gone unpunished. Therefore it will happen again to further diminish democracy.

Last month the CPS announced that there would be no criminal charges brought against 14 MPs over their expenses in the 2015 election. In March 2017, The Electoral Commission fined the Conservative Party a record £70,000 for “numerous failures” in reporting expenses for the 2015 General Election. For that election the Conservatives raised some £38, 000,000. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 7 Comments

Brexit related divisiveness mars school exchange visit

Three Spanish Exchange students have descended on our home this week. Full of fun, responsive and impeccably mannered, it has been a pleasure to have them around. About parts of their experience in England, though, it is impossible to be so complimentary.

Their looks of bemusement have grown ever stronger during the week as the farcical events surrounding Gibraltar have unfolded.

Firstly, they watched in amazement as a former Tory leader – not a rogue backbencher, a former leader – envisaged a situation in which Britain would sent a Task Force, Union Jacks waving and bugles blowing, to defend the future of the island.

Walking round the supermarket, they stumbled across the front page of The Sun with its headline “Up Yours Senors”, although I suppose we should be mildly relieved that the paper fell short of calling for all-out war.

If they go back to the supermarket today, they can check out the Daily Mail with its tale of how a “Tiny Royal Navy patrol vessel chases giant Spanish gunboat out of British waters.”

Two newspapers which have done so much damage to the culture of the nation.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 11 Comments

What next with Trump vs the Media?

The first thing I read this morning was the Twitter feed of the BBC’s James Cook who spent yesterday following Donald Trump around as he gave a speech at the CIA.

We’ve all watched enough West Wing to know how the White House’s relationship with the media works. The Press Secretary briefs the press every day and takes questions.

It looks like things are changing:

This …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

Changing the mood music of politics: Let’s get angry about poverty and refuse to stand by while papers demonise the poor

I remember the feeling of sadness when I saw these figures from a Scottish Lib Dem freedom of information request. In Christmas 2015, 26,320 adults and 11,200 children were homeless. Those figures are up 8% and 16% respectively in two years. As the party’s housing spokesperson, I wanted to highlight this and, as the photo shows, the story was picked up by the Sun. I said:

It is absolutely heart-breaking to learn that more than 11,000 children were homeless last Christmas. It is intolerable that the number of families without a permanent roof over their head continues to rise.

Across the last three Christmases, 100,000 people were homeless, almost a third of them children.

We judge the strength of a society by how it looks out for its most vulnerable. These figures are a stain on the national conscience.

The Scottish Government have failed the children and families who don’t have stable warm home at Christmas. Many will have been in temporary accommodation but that it hardly a suitable or sustainable way of tackling homeless in the long term. The failure of the SNP to deliver on their previous social housing promises has undoubtedly contributed to this situation.

That is why the Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to press SNP ministers to get a grip of the housing crisis and increase the number of homes for social rent.

11,200 children would almost fill Scotland’s concert venue, the Hydro. It’s about a fifth of the population of the town where I live. For each of these children, homelessness means insecurity, disruption and uncertainty that limits their life chances. They could be placed anywhere in their local authority area and moved to another part of it at a moment’s notice. Imagine what that feels like to a young child. Being taken away from your familiar surroundings, school and support networks is hard enough once, but what if you have to wait months or even years for a permanent home and are constantly moved. Add to that that you may not be actually accommodated in a house, but in a hotel or hostel, sharing facilities with others. Read this family’s account in the Sun last week, of being made homeless after their father lost his job as a forklift truck driver because of a back injury.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 18 Comments

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:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 24 Comments
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