Tag Archives: media

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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Make time for football! The social impact of participating in culture and sport

As a professional musician and the mother of a keen athlete, I was interested to learn that the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee are looking into the social impact of participating in culture and sport.

On Tuesday they took evidence from three people: Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England; John Herriman, Chief Executive, Greenhouse Sports; and Deborah Williams, Executive Director, Creative Diversity Network. The questions asked were around the power of culture and sport to address deep-seeded social issues.

Deborah Williams made the point that we need a broader understanding of what culture is, that it is not elitist, but that there are a breadth of cultural opportunities available and space for all to participate. She highlighted the need for education to be for the whole child.

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Toby Young is taught a valuable lesson, that free speech is not without consequence

It is an unexpected coincidence that, having written a piece on these pages suggesting that a more mutually respectful dialogue might be a good thing, the whole Toby Young story hit the headlines. And, let’s be honest, he has made his reputation by means of saying things likely to offend in order to attract attention. Now, apparently, these repeated offences were “sophomoric and silly”, and thus should be excused so that he might take up a place on the board of the new Office for Students.

I’m not the first person to suggest that he really isn’t a fit person to …

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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:

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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. 

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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.

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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 …

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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.

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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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How media reports can fuel hate crime

First of all, i would like to say my thoughts go out to the family and friends of Darlene Horton, the woman who lost her life and those who were injured in the horrific knife attack in Russell Square on Wednesday night.

BBC News reports:

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a woman was killed and five injured in a knife attack in Russell Square, central London.

A 19-year-old man was arrested at 22:39 after a Taser was discharged by an officer. The Met said mental health was a “significant factor” in events.

Metropolitan Police Service say Mental Health played a significant part in this incident.  Nowhere do they say that it was terror related, yet the editors  at The Sun never fail to amaze us with the headline – “RUSSELL SQUARE BLOODBATH Woman in her 60s knifed to death and five injured in possible terror attack in central London as man, 19, is tasered”

The story should read – Man murders one and wounds others in Russell Square Knife attack.

I am all for free press when reported correctly, but after the vote for Brexit, the country needs to heal and come together, The Sun continue to spread hate and divisive headlines which injects more panic and fear into our society.

The Liberal Democrats need to tackle this and make a stand against this right wing media coverage, which some  people I know are starting to believe. I see them quoting stuff from the sun as though it is fact and it is deeply worrying.

This creates further hate and only exacerbates hate crime in the long run. When can the Sun be held accountable for these outrageous headlines they keep printing?

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Liberal Democrats are being excluded from referendum debate – don’t put up with this

We Liberal Democrats are used to not getting our fair share of media attention. Since last year’s general election, that has got even worse. However, we still aren’t getting anything like the coverage we should have based on our size.

Research carried out by the University of Loughborough during the EU referendum campaign shows that we are only being included in 1% of both press and broadcast media. Mind you, the official opposition doesn’t fare that much better, although that has definitely changed in the last few days.

Coverage by party during EU Ref

 

If you were thinking that there was a gross over-representation of right wing men, the study confirms your instincts.

The debate is highly presidential in character, focussing on key individuals. The top six individuals are all right-of-centre and are all men. Despite concern expressed by left-of-centre and female politicians about media coverage it’s still largely a ‘Tory story’ and a male dominated, ‘blue-on-blue’ tale at that.

So who are the main media performers?

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Three ways our democracy is being undermined

The articles that have appeared after the BBC’s referendum debate in Glasgow have given a lot of prominence to that one man who blamed the state of political discourse for his confusion as to how to vote.

This was too interesting not to comment on.

The audience was divided into leavers, remainers, and undecideds.

Leave and Remain both have their own ‘Project Fear’. Leavers tout a cultural crisis in the form of mass migration. Remainers raise the spectre of economic catastrophe.

Fear Projects, whereever they come from, are a concerted attempt to sway the public with threats dangerous enough to repeat frequently in scarce media time.

On the face of it my generation ought to be the most engaged generation there has ever been. Social media has turned every one of us into campaigners and journalists: we auto-report our lives and volunteer our opinions publicly. We are also happy to parrot or share anything we agree with.

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Yet another headline writer trivialises violence against women

I’m very conscious of the way the media trivialises men’s violence against women. Often a false narrative is constructed to somehow give the impression that the abuser had some sort of excuse for their behaviour.

A story in today’s Metro, or more specifically its headline is a good example of terrible practice.

Let’s look at what the man in question actually did to his girlfriend:

Anwaar was open to fits of rage. In one incident she fell unconscious when he throttled her after smashing up her iPhone, slapping and kicking her.

He also attacked her in front of her sons and on two or three occasions slapped her around the back of the head.

Prosecutor Nicola Quinney said Anwaar had held a knife to Miss Doherty’s throat, asking her if she wanted him to kill her, and saying he wasn’t scared of a life sentence. During the attack, Miss Doherty’s son Ethan, three, was hiding under the bed.

So that’s a pretty serious series of violent incidents that fully deserved a decent jail term.

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Nothing of public interest in lurid headlines about SNP MPs

Pick up any newspaper today, particularly the Scottish ones, and you’ll find a whole load of froth about two SNP MPs who have apparently had relationships, not at the same time, with the same woman. Both MPs have separated from their wives, most recently Deputy Leader Stewart Hosie from Scottish Health Minister Shona Robison at the weekend.

Those events will be particularly traumatic for the people involved and most especially for their children. I can’t however, see why it is any of our business. If either of them had shown hypocrisy and sought to curb others’ personal freedom, then perhaps calling them out for that would be relevant. Where is the public interest in this?

Much of the reporting is sensationalised and, more importantly, misogynistic on all sorts of levels. The woman concerned is cast as the “home wrecker” and extensive scrutiny is made of her blogs she has written which are simply not relevant. Nor is it appropriate to compare with the SNP MPs who have had to resign the whip and sit as independents. They have had to do because of various allegations of financial misconduct which are being investigated, not their personal lives

We really don’t need to know all of this stuff, and I wish editors would think about the effects of their articles on everyone affected. It’s hard enough for kids to come to terms with parents’ separation without their schoolmates hearing all sorts of lurid, unverifiable speculation. Maybe people who buy these papers and enjoy reading these stories should ask themselves how they would feel if it was their child going through it. We need to remember that behind each wild headline are lots of people having a really hard time. Our demand for such coverage makes their lives worse and it’s not necessary.

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Nicola Sturgeon faces similar press trashing to Clegg in 2010 – but with added misogyny

I might have some fairly fundamental disagreements with Nicola Sturgeon on the best future for Scotland, but I have a great deal of time for her as a human being and as a politician. She is a much cleverer tactician than Alex Salmond ever was. I am perfectly happy to argue with people on their political outlook, but I’m not struck on the sort of nasty personal mudslinging that we see at PMQs, or in Labour’s deeply misleading personal attack on Nick Clegg last year and I sure as hell am not going to make up my mind how to vote based on how someone eats a bacon sandwich. Nor, I suspect, are the rest of the population.

It appears that after her very good performance in Thursday’s Leaders’ Debate that Nicola Sturgeon is, highly predictably, being done over by the right wing press in much the same way that Nick Clegg was in 2010. Remember Nick Barlow’s wonderful way of dealing with that – the #nickcleggsfault meme on Twitter where Clegg was blamed from everything to the weather to the cat being sick?

Of course, Nicola is getting much different treatment to a man. Her clothes come in to it. The Daily Fail describes her as a “glamorous power-dressing imperatrix.” Wow. A woman goes out wearing smart clothes. How remarkable. Of course, if she rocked up for FMQs in Parliament in her jeans, they’d have something to say about that, too. On appearance, women really can’t win.

The Telegraph’s splash is a bit different. Last night, when I read their account that she’d told the French ambassador that she’d prefer David Cameron to be Prime Minister, it didn’t seem right to me. Apart from anything else, the Nicola Sturgeon I know has more sense than to be so indiscreet. The paper bases its story on a memo written by a UK Government official who wasn’t even at the meeting in question and who actually doubts its veracity. It’s all very third hand and clearly questionable.

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Today’s headlines show just how much work is still to do on mental health stigma

All of us have been moved by the Germanwings plane crash, feeling for those who have lost loved ones or colleagues. The circumstances of the crash, caused by what seems to be a deliberate act by the co-pilot, has provoked much comment in the press, much of it deeply irresponsible. Headlines have screamed about Andreas Lubitz’s mental health demanding to know why he was allowed to fly.

Lurid headlines, written by sub-editors who clearly have no clue about mental health, do not help to either tackle the stigma faced by people with mental ill health or encourage those who suffer to seek help. The more open we can be about mental health, the more we understand. That leads to a more comfortable and sympathetic world for those who are suffering.

It’s worth reading this statement from Mind, which acts the media to report the issue responsibly:

The terrible loss of life in the Germanwings plane crash is tragic, and we send our deepest sympathies to the families. Whilst the full facts are still emerging, there has been widespread media reporting speculating about the link with the pilot’s history of depression, which has been overly simplistic.

Clearly assessment of all pilots’ physical and mental health is entirely appropriate – but assumptions about risk shouldn’t be made across the board for people with depression, or any other illness. There will be pilots with experience of depression who have flown safely for decades, and assessments should be made on a case by case basis.

Today’s headlines risk adding to the stigma surrounding mental health problems, which millions of people experience each year, and we would encourage the media to report this issue responsibly.

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Opinion: The power of the media for good or ill

The existence of a free press is one of the hard-won aspects of our society, that makes it what it is. Added to this is the existence of a free broadcasting system and the internet, some of which features other countries are lucky enough to share.

Of course, there are problems associated with a free media, including the issue that it is largely profit-driven and can therefore occasionally overstep the mark of what many ‘ordinary’ people consider to be acceptable behaviour. Delving too deeply into the private lives of those who are not in a position to defend themselves is one example of what can go wrong. On the other hand, revealing the depths of corruption in various public bodies is something for which we should thank them.

It is therefore with a degree of diffidence that I wonder whether some of the 24 hour a day coverage we see is actually a bad thing. Take for example, recent events in Sydney, Australia.

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Baroness Floella Benjamin writes…Tax break for children’s programmes is great news

I am overjoyed with the wonderful news that the Chancellor has extended tax breaks to children’s television productions. This is something I have campaigned on for years as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children’s Media and the Arts. I have asked questions and spoken on this issue in the House of Lords, supported by Pact (Producers Alliance for Cinema & Television) and the Children’s Media Foundation.

I always say, ‘Childhood lasts a lifetime’ and we can all remember our favourite children’s television programme, they hold fond memories, which are part of our formative years.

But even though children’s programmes are much loved, they are often undervalued and those who contribute to this sector of the creative industries are rarely credited.

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Lib Dem “senior strategists”, what are you thinking?

I know that in the run-up to an election, not every story that newspapers print, especially those newspapers which are hostile to us which is, let’s face it, all of them, is grounded in accuracy.

You would think that we would help ourselves, though. Who on earth has said in the hearing of the Telegraph that the party fears that Danny Alexander will lose his Inverness seat?

Danny Alexander will lose his seat at the next general election unless there is a radical turnaround in fortunes, a senior Liberal Democrat strategist has privately warned.

The source believes the Chief Secretary to the Treasury’s closeness to the austerity cuts and George Osborne will create an “anti-Danny” backlash among constituents that could topple him.

It raises the prospect of one of the four most influential figures in the Coalition being kicked out of politics in less than six months.

Whoever wrote this article knows nothing about the proud, liberal tradition in the Highlands which is deeply offended by the SNP Government’s indiscriminate use of unregulated stop and search and armed police patrolling their peaceful communities. Danny has been vociferous in standing up to them, and on their concentration of resources in the central belt rather than on providing a fit for purpose trunk road to the north.

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Nick and Miriam join Lorraine to talk about inspiring women and school meals – and grate cheese

Nick Clegg got cheesy yesterday morning on ITV’s Lorraine show. He was helping their chef make ragu for going on bonfire baked potatoes and was entrusted with chopping onion, carrot and celery and grating cheese which he seemed to carry out with reasonable competence. My mind boggled a bit when he asked which bit of the grater he should use. It was for going on top of a baked potato. It didm’t really matter.

Anyway, he took the opportunity to talk about the successful introduction of his school meals policy. This was not a serious political interview. It was never going to be, but it is quite nice to see well-informed discussion of the issues in an informal way. I think Nick should be doing much more of these things. You can watch him here.

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Paddy: Clegg “has had 17 buckets of s**t dumped over his head by the right-wing press”

Paddy Ashdown talks on "The global power shift" in Brussels March 1st 2012 -  Some rights reserved by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE That’s the rather striking quote from Paddy Ashdown in an interview with Iain Dale on LBC radio. Here’s how the Herald reported it:

Speaking to LBC radio’s Iain Dale, Lord Ashdown insisted the party’s dismal poll ratings would recover as the “true Nick Clegg” was revealed to voters.

“The right-wing press in this country detest the coalition – detest it,” he said.

“If they want to destroy the coalition, what they do is

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Opinion: An anti-Liberal Democrat press isn’t going to go any easier on any Liberal Democrat leader

Sun newspaper - License Some rights reserved by vapour trail Liberal Democrats 4 Change have a point about one thing. They are right to say that the Liberal Democrats do not get a fair hearing. However, they are mistaken to think that a leadership change would alter anything in this regard.

It is instructive to recall the moment Clegg began to get a bad rap from voters. At what point was this? The answer is not as obvious as you may think, It didn’t start with Secret Courts, Bedroom Tax or Tuition …

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The biggest urban myth: the Tories have a birthright to the Shires

Countryside Alliance web shotgunChampions of the Countryside Alliance boast that it is the voice of rural Britain. I disagree. It is just one voice within rural Britain. It’s like saying that the Tories are the voice of the Home Counties and Labour is the voice of the Industrial North. That’s just lousy stereotypical language. There are many different voices within rural England.

I am forever angry that the London press, especially the right leaning press, routinely trots out stereotypes about life in our rural areas. They seem to believe that “Escape to the Country” is something authentic. It’s a reality show, no more.

One reason why rural areas get such a bad deal in public policy is that London journalists rely on urban myths about the countryside rather than trying to understand rural reality. This reality game is not without victims. The media’s glib characterisations of country life distort discussions of pressing issues like rural funding, schooling and a working landscape. And most of all, the need for jobs and decent housing in rural areas.

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The lessons we must learn for Nick Clegg’s next holiday

Nick Clegg’s two spells of holiday this Summer have been characterised by the Home Office in particular getting above itself in his absence. Both the party and Nick’s Special Advisers should have learned from the furore over the “Go home” poster vans. The Home Office pulled a fast one by implementing this pilot without telling the Liberal Democrats. The response from the Party was the right one – that they were “disproportionate, distasteful and ineffective” and Vince Cable saying a few days later that they were stupid and offensive. The problem was that the response came out by …

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BBC bias? Yes, but not to the left researchers say

BBC not left biasedWriting at The Conversation, Cardiff University lecturer Mike Berry looks at whether the BBC is biased.

He concludes, despite the regular screams of left wing bias by the right wing press, that Tories get more airtime than Labour.

The BBC is not pro-EU, quite the reverse. But reportage “saw Europe almost exclusively through the prism of political infighting between Labour and the Conservatives so a rounded debate… was almost completely absent.” Voices arguing for the benefits of EU membership were, says Berry, very sparse.

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Joan Edwards’ bequest: the dangers of 24/7 news and how we respond to it

Zhou EnlaiWhen asked about the impact of the French Revolution, Zhou Enlai was said to have suggested that it was “too early to tell”. Admittedly, he was apparently referring to the 1968 riots, rather than the original, but it was the response of someone who saw politics as a long game.
 
With 24/7 rolling news, it would seem that such a perspective is in danger of being lost forever. In just twenty-four hours, the Joan Edwards legacy story appears to have gone from curiosity to scandal and back.
 
Yesterday, news broke that a …

Posted in Op-eds | 121 Comments

Finally, the media pick up on Coalition split on offensive poster vans

There’s a big lesson to learn from the offensive poster van fiasco this week. Sometimes we Liberal Democrats, including me, can be quick to feel a dividing line between those inside the Whitehall Bubble and the rest of us. This week, we spoke with one voice. Liberal Democrats inside Government were every bit as livid as those of us outside at the presence of these vans on our streets. With their stark message “Go home or face arrest”, illustrated by handcuffs, they can only inflame tensions in communities.

We now know that the Tories have pulled a fast one on us. …

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How the papers viewed Nick Clegg’s comments on MPs’ pay

A snapshot of some of today’s headlines on Nick Clegg’s comments on MPs’ Pay is quite revealing. To refresh your memories, yesterday he told journalists at his new monthly press conference that he wouldn’t take the proposed rise himself, that he couldn’t control what other MPs so, but:

But I think all MPs, whatever status they hold, whatever position they hold, will know from their own constituents that there are millions of people in the United Kingdom at the moment who’ve had a remorseless squeeze on their living standards for some years now and that we’re asking millions of public sector

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The Liberal Democrat perspective on welfare reform that needs to be heard

On Monday, I wrote about the good things Liberal Democrats are doing in Government and also expressed  concern that nobody was out there giving the Liberal Democrat perspective  in a way that would resonate with and encourage members and activists. I know that some of them felt a bit exposed. They were out there on a day when we were under  media pressure, and nobody was giving them any air cover. It’s a balance, of course. There have been times when we’ve complained that our ministers are out there defending things we  feel uncomfortable with. These things can be …

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    Is it too Machiavellian to suggest that Mrs May was the 48th Tory MP to send in a letter ?
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