Tag Archives: media

Keep the faith: Liberal Democrats are doing good things in Government, not that you’d know it from today’s headlines

Liberal Democrats have taken a pounding across the Labour supporting media over the past few days. Article after soundbite condemns the welfare reforms which come into effect from now. It’s been a clever, co-ordinated onslaught which seems aimed at demoralising Liberal Democrat members and activists rather than opposing the changes themselves. After all, I haven’t heard Ed Miliband promise to repeal any of them. And we have to remember that it was the Labour Government who introduced Local Housing Allowance – the Bedroom Tax of the private sector.

Where have the Liberal Democrat MPs and key figures been?

That Labour would use …

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Nick Clegg writes… Press regulation: a liberal solution

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has written to party supporters tonight…

Having been in face to face negotiations till nearly midnight last night – followed by calls, texts and emails for many hours afterwards – I am delighted to have stood up this afternoon in the House of Commons to welcome the cross-party agreement on implementing the Leveson Report. It wasn’t easy but after a lot of hard work – led on our side by the tireless Jim Wallace, we have got there.

The Leveson Inquiry was established after public revulsion at the phone hacking scandal. So, when Lord Justice Leveson published

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It’s not just the Lib Dem leadership trying to ignore the ‘secret courts’ row: the news media is too

I had an odd experience on Friday. I was doing a round of media interviews – 3 for TV, 3 for radio – previewing the Lib Dem conference. I’d been called by researchers in advance to ‘get my take’ on the key issues. Each time, I said there was a big issue on which the party leadership could expect to be defeated and which would see activists from across the broad spectrum of the Lib Dems united: opposition to secret courts. This received an “Uh-hum” response which I took for baffled boredom. And as expected, each interview in turn dwelt …

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As Leveson reports… Why I’m sticking up for ‘Press freedom with no buts’

Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal will report this week. His recommendations on the future of press regulation are the subject of intense speculation, with essentially three positions being staked-out:

What’s being proposed

‘Independent regulation backed up by statute’
Advocates, who include Evan Harris and the Hacked Off campaign group, argue that the only way to ensure the press does not abuse its position in the future is for it to be regulated. But, they insist, this should be independent both of government and the press, the two main …

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How not to do an interview: Grant Shapps demonstrates

1. Running away from Michael Crick rarely works.

2. Running away from Michael Crick whilst he has a camera crew in tow even more rarely works.

3. Running away from Michael Crick into the wrong room and then having to turn around and walk back past the camera even more rarely works.

4. Running away from Michael Crick into a wrong room for the second time takes the odds of success into the realms of the never never.

5. But if you are going to do that, remember not to turn round at the end and give a short answer sounding out of breath and without looking at camera or questioner. Because that always looks so convincing.

All of which means of course no-one would ever do 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Oh, hang on:

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The crisis of trust facing the news media

The Hansard Society this week published part two of its annual Audit of Political Engagement, focusing on the media and politics. Three graphs in particular stood out for me…

63% of public say tabloids “look for any excuse” to tarnish politicians

… tabloid newspapers are consistently identified by two-thirds of the public as displaying negative traits in their coverage of politics and politicians. … Tabloids are three times more likely to be perceived to be negative in their approach to the coverage of politics than are the other

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LDVideo: Clegg – we don’t need Hunt inquiry. Hughes – we need Hunt inquiry

Here’s Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg saying that the Leveson Inquiry is the best place for culture secretary Jeremy Hunt to give evidence about his role in the BSkyB takeover bid…

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Metro finally gets the point of Liberal Democrat tax policy

The front page of yesterday’s Metro made me laugh.

“The richest pay how much tax?” screamed their headline. “Multi millionaires hand over less than cleaners.”

Their outrage at the relatively low rates of tax paid by the super rich continued for three columns on the front page and a continuation on page 5.

I guess it’s good that they’re finally getting the message. But, might we have heard their millionaire and cleaner example somewhere before?

Let’s go back to January 2010 when I reported Nick Clegg’s appearance on the Andrew Marr show.

Also on tax, he talked about taking 4 million people out

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“Hard to believe she’s just 16!” The headline that sums up the morality of the Daily Mail

Next time that esteemed family newspaper the Daily Mail screams at the permissive society for its outrages against decent family values it will be worth recalling this article and its beyond-parody headline:

Hard to believe she’s just 16! Kendall Jenner looks older than her years as she shows off her model shape in stunning bikini shoot

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In other news… Richard Kemp for Liverpool, Kennedy on the UK, defection in Cambridge, Hughes at Leveson

Here’s a round-up of stories we haven’t had time to cover on the site this past week…

Richard Kemp to represent Liberal Democrats in Liverpool mayor election in May (Liverpool Echo)

‘He said: “I am standing because I believe that only the Liberal Democrats have the long term strategies which will place this city in a leading position able to create the jobs and investment which this city so badly needs. Liverpool needs an encompassing vision and direction that everyone in the city, residents, business and friends can buy into and support.”

You can read Richard’s own account of …

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LDVideo: Harris & Pugh on Murdoch’s new Sun on Sunday paper

The News of the World is dead, long live the Sun on Sunday… starting from this Sunday. Here’s how two Lib Dems have responded to the announcement by News International…

Evan Harris: I’ll buy SoS ‘to see what it’s like’

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LibLink: Mark Pack – Nick Clegg turns media weakness into media strength

Over on his work blog, The Voice’s Mark Pack has a post looking at the extremely successful media coverage of Nick Clegg’s speech on tax policy, with the party using the fact that much of the media is still surprised by the idiosyncracies of coalition to our advantage.

Here’s a sample:

In a country used to coalitions, having the leader of one of the parties in government talk about their tax priorities a few months ahead of a budget would not be remarkable. With the British media habits, it had made today’s speech from Nick Clegg to banner news – lead story

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Telegraph apologises for false slurs on Huhne and offensive Cristina Odone article

The Daily Telegraph has been forced into a humiliating climbdown after making what it now admits were false claims about Lib Dem cabinet minister Chris Huhne.

The paper had splashed on allegations that it was Huhne who had leaked the letter from Michael Gove suggesting taxpayers might make a gift of a new royal yacht to the Queen in order to embarrass the education secretary. It’s unclear what evidence the paper had, if any, because Huhne’s involvement was swiftly denied by the Guardian journalist responsible for exposing Mr Gove’s, erm, politically courageous proposal. Perhaps, perish the thought, they just …

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Opinion: Our party is a choir of many voices – Let’s not single out the sopranos

Our party is becoming one of a few, select voices.

Many members, which I include myself alongside, are quickly cementing our position as liberal radicals – those that choose not to define ourselves in the centre, nor on the left, but merely as those who wish to seek to form policies that will aid many in society. We will let history decide which end of the political spectrum we allegedly sit on.

Along the way, we may be asked for more radio or TV appearances, or be asked to write articles for certain websites or newspapers. This is good for …

Posted in Op-eds | 5 Comments

Opinion: Will the Lib Dems stand up for creative industries?

A Labour friend of mine was smugly telling me about last week’s launch of the Labour Creative Industries Network. Much of this reminded me of their ‘Cool Britannia’ efforts circa 1997.

However, it also got me thinking about how the creative industries see us. We too have some nice words about creative businesses on our website – but do we really have a sense of how we want to support and promote this economically and culturally important sector? The DCMS is the only department where Lib Dems have no ministerial presence. There is a hair’s breadth in arts policy between …

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Opinion: We need a general right of information

The call made by Mark Pack, amongst others, for suggestions for media reform is both timely and important. For the majority of the country, the media represents the most important source of information we access on a daily basis. As a result, it cannot help but shape our opinions and inform our democratic decision-making; it is a key part of our national discourse and must be seen as such.

And yet the phone hacking scandal has demonstrated that we cannot rely wholly on journalists to hold themselves and their colleagues to account for their own ethical transgressions. A press …

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News International tried to bully the Lib Dems, says Observer. It didn’t work.

News International ‘bullied Liberal Democrats over BSkyB bid’ is the headline in today’s Observer, with the paper reporting:

Rupert Murdoch’s News International launched a campaign of bullying against senior Liberal Democrats in an attempt to force through the company’s bid for BSkyB, high-level sources have told the Observer.

Lib Dem insiders say NI officials took their lobbying campaign well beyond acceptable limits and even threatened, last autumn, to persecute the party if Vince Cable, the business secretary, did not advance its case.

According to one account from a senior party figure, a cabinet minister was told that, if the government did not

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News International’s William Lewis, BBC’s Robert Peston, and the alleged act of theft which aimed to bring down Vince Cable

Rewind to December 2010, and you will recall the furore which greeted the revelation by the BBC’s Robert Peston that Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable had been secretly taped by undercover Telegraph hacks “declaring war” on Rupert Murdoch and his bid for BSkyB.

Vince was almost forced to resign, responsibility for handling the bid was handed over to a Murdoch-friendly Tory, and the Telegraph was embarrassed by the implication that they had censored the story in order to avoid assisting media rival News International.

A report in today’s New York Times sheds a new and extraordinary light on that sequence of events, and suggests that:

  • The Telegraph was not sitting on the Cable/BSkyB scoop, but was all set to run it as a follow-up to the paper’s initial story focusing on Vince’s forthright views on the Coalition;
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In (partial) defence of Labour’s so-called ‘Lay Off Murdoch’ instruction to party’s MPs

‘Lay off Murdoch’ — that was the ever-so-quotable paraphrase that the New Statesman used to accompany this article by Dan Hodges, revealing how the Labour Party press team had issued a circular ‘to all shadow cabinet teams warns Labour spokespeople to avoid linking hacking with the BSkyB bid, to accept ministerial assurances that meetings with Rupert Murdoch are not influencing that process, and to ensure that complaints about tapping are made in a personal, not shadow ministerial, capacity.’

In reality, Labour’s communications chief Tom Baldwin — yes, himself a former Murdoch employee — did not use the phrase, ‘Lay off …

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The Lib Dems on ‘Hackgate’ and Murdoch: Ashdown, Huhne, Hughes, Farron, Oakeshott all join the fray

It’s been a frenzied week in British politics, with attention for once focused less on the mis-deeds of politicans than the criminality practised by many journalists, both at the News of the World and beyond. Here’s a brief round-up of what the Lib Dems have been saying…

BSkyB takeover: Lib Dems hint at backing Labour motion to delay deal (Guardian)

The Liberal Democrats have indicated they could back a Labour move in parliament to delay the Murdoch takeover of BSkyB until after the police investigations into phone hacking. …

Hughes told Sky News: “We have to be careful and I would

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‘Yates of the Yard’ should have listened to Huhne on ‘Hackgate’

Today’s Telegraph carries an interview with the Metropolitan Police’s Assistant Commissioner John Yates with a full mea culpa for his failure to get to grips with British journalism’s criminal free-for-all. As the paper notes:

Mr Yates had the opportunity to reopen the case in 2009 but chose not to do so after just eight hours’ consideration, including consultations with other senior detectives and Crown Prosecution lawyers. … In his interview, Mr Yates addresses last week’s revelation that Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator working for the News of the World, had allegedly hacked into teenage murder victim Milly Dowler’s mobile phone

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Ed’s learning: he’s done a Dave over Murdoch

Credit where it’s due, fair’s fair, and well-played.

As Paul Walter noted here on LDV on Wednesday, Labour leader Ed Miliband is having a good war, sticking up for clear and proper principles — a judge-led public inquiry, referring News International’s BSkyB bid to the Competition Commission, and the public call for the resignation of Rebekah Brooks — that resound well with the public.

By contrast, David Cameron is on the back-foot over the unravelling scandal at News International, compromised both by having hired former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his director of communciations (despite warnings), …

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LDVideo: Vince and Shirley’s war on Murdoch, while Nick savages PCC as “busted flush”

There’s no doubt about the big story this week: Rupert Murdoch being forced to close the biggest-selling British newspaper in a brazen bid to ride out the illegal hacking story that threatens his media empire.

Vince Cable’s prophetic powers first came to prominence during the economic storm that came close to collapsing the banking system. Last December, he accidentally went on the record to make clear his wish to clip Rupert Murdoch’s wings. Ironically, it was the Telegraph’s widely condemned subterfuge which stopped Vince in his tracks, and prevented his ability to hold to account the company where illegal hacking was rife. Here’s what he inadvertently revealed to the Telegraph last year:

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In Praise of Nick Davies, the British Bernstein & Woodward to Murdoch’s Nixon

One man, above all, deserves to be singled-out for his single-minded pursuit of the lies, deceit and criminality that have stained British journalism: The Guardian’s special correspondent, Nick Davies.

His has been a lonely crusade. Despite the mounting evidence of corrupt practices, the tentacles of which have extended right into the very centre of the Establishment in this country — Parliament, media barons, senior police officers, Downing Street — Nick Davies has doggedly pursued a campaign which has resulted in the closure of this country’s most-read newspaper. That is some accolade.

But, as he would be the first to point out, it should never have got this far.

The closure of the News of the World would have been avoided if those who knew the truth, or at least had the power to uncover the truth, had done their jobs properly, had fulfilled their duty to the public. And that’s as true of Rebekah Brooks as it is of ‘Yates of the Yard’.

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Why Simon Kelner is wrong to defend Johann Hari

Johann Hari is used to provoking controversy – as the Independent’s most outspoken left/liberal columnist its his stock-in-trade – but yesterday found himself on the receiving end of criticism of his integrity.

The reason? His repeated borrowing of quotes from interviews published by other journalists which he then drops into his own interviews as if they had been made directly in conversation.

The accusation first surfaced last week on the DSG blog concerning an interview Mr Hari undertook with ‘Italian communist and every ultra-leftist’s favourite “psychopath”’, Toni Negri. And the accusation went mainstream after Yahoo editor Brian Whelan’s demolition …

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LDVideo: Jon Stewart takes aim at Fox News and media sensationalism

To US liberals, he’s something of a hero; to conservatives he’d be a bête noire if they could stomach the use of a foreign label. Jon Stewart’s satirical The Daily Show has become a cultural institution in America (and something of a cult hit here) because of the host’s pin-sharp riffs against politicians and the media.

And what better, more deserving, target could there be than News International’s conservative polemical shock-jock channel, Fox News? Jon Stewart recently agreed to go toe-to-toe with Chris Wallace, one of its more intelligent interviewers.

The result is a vigorous and surprisingly nuanced 15-minute debate, which touches on issues just as relevant to the UK — especially the 24×7 news media’s destructive sensationalising of issues needing balance, regardless of whether their agenda is driven by liberals or conservatives. In the light of this week’s Milly Dowler case, or the recent character assasination of Christopher Jefferies, it’s more important than ever.

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Andrew Marr’s hypocrisy (not a trace of schadenfreude here, honest)

It’s been one of the worst-kept secrets in the media, and today Andrew Marr finally admitted he was one of the 30 people who’ve taken out a super-injunction to prevent reports of their private life being made public.

The BBC interviewer’s legal action dates back to 2008, and has been credited with popularising the use of super-injunctions, which not only prevent reporting of allegations, but also prevent the injunction being reported. Today’s Guardian reports:

Marr said he felt “uneasy” and “embarrassed” about the use of the high court injunction, which he won in 2008 to suppress reports of an extramarital affair.

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Tony Greaves writes: Coalition, Government and the Lords

We are in a new situation which started with the coalition being negotiated. Nobody in the political parties had thought it through. It had to be made up as they went along and it is still being made up, week by week, month by month. It has had a major effect on the resulting policies. It has also had an effect on the ongoing processes of government.

The coalition was put together in five days. An important lesson must be that future coalition-building in this country after an election really ought to take place at a slightly more measured pace, and …

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged | 46 Comments

Farron triggers PCC probe into Telegraph’s Lib Dem MPs undercover sting

The BBC reports:

The press watchdog is investigating the Daily Telegraph’s use of undercover reporters to record Lib Dem ministers’ thoughts on the coalition government. It reported comments made by Business Secretary Vince Cable in a meeting with people he thought were constituents.

Lib Dem President Tim Farron asked the Press Complaints Commission to investigate. The PCC said 200 people contacted them over the story. The Telegraph said it was satisfied it acted within the PCC’s rules. …

A PCC spokesman said: “We have now received a letter from the Liberal Democrats asking us formally to investigate. We will do so under

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Why a part of me is cheering on Rupert Murdoch

At face value, the figures released by News International this week showing that The Times and Sunday Times had registered some 105,000 customer sales since its paywall was erected in July sounded like good news. As analysts attempted to decipher the company’s ‘fuzzy numbers‘, doubts began to creep in.

Understanding those paywall figures

The reality appears to be that roughly 50,000 individual users have subscribed to gain access to the newspapers’ content, whether online or through the iPad app or the Kindle edition. The other c.50,000 customer sales are for single-use or pay-as-you-go access to the website, and will …

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