Tag Archives: newspapers

The decline of local journalism may mean more than just a lack of transparency…

Amidst the drama of Brexit, the Guardian covered a report from the US which may well have gone unnoticed by many. “Financing Dies in Darkness? The Impact of Local Newspaper Closures on Public Finance.”, published by academics from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois at Chicago on 8 May, might not, on the face of it, seem of great import, but I would suggest that it gives those of us who care about local government some cause for concern.

The authors summarise their report as follows;

The loss of monitoring that results from newspaper closures is associated

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Of course, the Daily Mail has form when it comes to smearing party leaders’ families

My colleague Andy Boddington has already (rightly) laid into the Daily Mail for its gratuitous insults against Ed Miliband’s father, Marxist historian Ralph.

The paper has form when it comes to smearing the families of party leaders. Let’s turn back the pages of history to… well, 10 days ago when the Mail tried to link Nick Clegg to fascism through his father-in-law:

clegg father in law daily mail - sept 2013

Or we could roll back to December 2012 when the Mail splash on a desperately thin story implying some …

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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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Hughes welcome Supreme Court ruling securing freedom from persecution for gay asylum seekers

Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes has welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling that two gay men who said they faced persecution in their home countries of Cameron and Iran have the right to asylum in the UK.

I am delighted this ruling recognises the rights of gay asylum seekers, ensuring their freedom from persecution around the world.

“This plight is one that my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I have campaigned on for years. It is an issue that the Coalition Government is committed to addressing as we seek to restore Britain’s reputation around the world as a leader in the

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LDVideo … ‘British papers are rubbish’ special edition

Welcome to this latest LDVideo instalment, featuring three video clips this week united by a common theme – the general uselessness of British newspapers and their inability to report facts.

First up, we have this classic clip from iconic 1980s’ political comedy, Yes, Prime Minister, in which Jim Hacker explains to the civil service who reads the British newspapers:


(Also available on YouTube here).

Secondly, here’s Stephen Fry’s QI – in Call My Bluff mode – exploding a few of the Euro myths peddled by the right-wing media:

Posted in YouTube | Also tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

Kirsty on Lembit: “His approach to politics is different to mine.”

Getting on for a year ago, Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik began writing a regular political column in the Daily Sport. Thanks to Lib Dem blogger James Graham – who set up the Prawn Free Lembit blog, so that those of us who don’t touch the Sport’s casually misogynistic pages can follow his writings – I’ve become a regular reader.

It’s a weird, dire mixture of straight news and forced comedy-innuendo. Commentary on Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace prize and the plight of British troops in Afghanistan jostle for space alongside groaning references to “Sport stunna Marlena …

Posted in News and Wales | Also tagged , and | 10 Comments

Let’s all say “Thank you” to #Trafigura with a postcard

As Helen Duffett already blogged earlier today on Lib Dem Voice, a combination of the Guardian’s legal team and Twitter users worldwide combined today to restore some element of common-sense to the law – allowing the media to report a Parliamentary question tabled by Paul Farrelly asking about the publication of the Minton Report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura.

LDV trafigura TYIn one sense, Trafigura and its lawyers Carter Ruck behaved shamefully in attempting to gag newspapers from reporting on Parliamentary proceedings. But in another, more profound, sense we should be grateful. As a result of their cack-handed attempts to silence The Guardian, hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of people now know about the serious allegations against Trafigura. Quite simply, this would not have been possible without the active role played by Trafigura and Carter Ruck.

It seems entirely appropriate, therefore, to say thank you to Trafigura for its role in exposing the company to far greater reputational risk than could have ever been achieved by one article published in a single newspaper.

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Some 0.5m Lib Dems read the now-Tory-again Sun

Apologies, readers, I appear to be on a bit of poll roll over the last 24 hours, what with this, this and now this … Yesterday’s ‘big news’ – or, more accurately, the story which garnered most column inches – was the announcement that The Sun has jilted Labour, and is shacking up once again with the Tory party.

There was no real surprise there: The Sun backs winners, and follows (and doubtless re-inforces) its readers’ opinions. Ipsos-Mori was quick off-the-mark to press release its figures showing the voting intentions of Sun readers in 2009 compared with 2005, general election year. These show a collapse in Labour support with hefty swings towards both the Tories and Others:

2005 – Tory 33%, Labour 45%, Lib Dem 12%, Others 10%
2009 – Tory 42%, Labour 29%, Lib Dem 12%, Others 17%

Interestingly the Lib Dem figure is unchanged between 2005 and 2009, at 12%.

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Does it matter if The Sun backs the Tories?

suncover.jpg The Sun is shining on the Tories this morning, with the announcement by Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid that it will back the party at the next general election for the first time since 1992. Indeed, so proud was the rag paper of its announcement that they took the trouble to email Lib Dem Voice (twice) to let us know all about it – you see how much we matter to them!

The Sun’s endorsement of the Tories in not full-throated.

Most of its leader article is devoted to setting …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 20 Comments

Huhne on Coulson: “either complicit or incompetent”

The BBC reports:

Conservative communications chief Andy Coulson has told MPs he did not “condone or use” phone hacking when he was editor of the News of the World. Mr Coulson quit as the editor after a reporter was jailed for hacking.

Although he said he had not known about it, he told the culture committee he regretted things going “badly wrong” and had taken responsibility by going.

Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne has not been won over by Mr Coulson’s performance today:

Andy Coulson’s defence is that he did not know what was going on despite the mounting evidence that

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[email protected]: Chris Huhne – Fresh questions for the News of the World

Over at The Guardian, Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne argues that fresh evidence in the News of the World hacking scandal should compel the Met to re-open its inquiry. Here’s an excerpt:

The surveillance state has rightly become a matter of great public concern, which is why the Guardian’s scoop that the use of private investigators who phone hacked was apparently widespread on the News of the World was so sensational. This is not something that can be brushed aside, because it strikes at the heart of the privacy any individual can expect in a civilised society. If the

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Coulson-gate: your LDV reader, day 2

Yesterday on LDV we rounded-up for you the Lib Dem blog-posts covering the scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch’s News Media Group following the Guardian’s expose of their illegal activities. Day 2 of ‘Coulson-gate’ has seen more desptaches from Lib Dem blogs:

Cameron, Coulson and a lot of writs… (James Oates)

Coulson is horribly exposed and Cameron would be making a grave error of judgement if he decides to keep him and then finds that he is submerged in a blizzard of litigation- even without criminal prosecution. As with the tangled affair of George Osborne last summer, Mr. Cameron may find that loyalty has a price for his own credibility. The Tories can not yet be so confident that they can dismiss this – and to try to do so looks like complacent arrogance.

News International – how much did they know about bugging? (Mark Valladares)

Posted in Best of the blogs | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Huhne on Yates’ ‘Coulson-gate’ statement: “This was a suspiciously quick review”

Chris Huhne has responded in lightning quick time to Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissionaire John Yates’ statement ruling out any further police investigation of the Guardian’s claims that the News of the World engaged in serious criminal activities while being edited by Andy Coulson, now David Cameron’s top aide.

Earlier today, Chris wrote to Met Chief Sir Paul Stephenson pointing out his force’s conflict of interest in the matter, given the allegations relate to possible failings by the police, and urging an independent investigation. Mr Yates’ over-hasty statement serves only to emphasise Chris’s orginal point:

John Yates’s statement leaves open as many questions as it answers, not least because he says he has only been asked to look into the facts around the inquiry into Clive Goodman and Glen Mulcaire, and not whether any further investigations into other journalists or investigators should have been or were undertaken.

“This was a suspiciously quick review of what Mr Yates himself describes as a complex case. Where there is a potential neglect of duty by a police force, surely another police force or the Independent Police Complaints Commission should look into the matter. Instead, we merely have assurances from the same department that conducted the original investigation that it did so well and thoroughly.

“Mr Yates says that in the vast majority of cases there was insufficient evidence to show tapping had been achieved – necessary to prosecute criminally – but the standard of evidence was clearly high enough in the case of Gordon Taylor to secure a very substantial out of court settlement for damages due to invasion of privacy. Civil cases require a balance of probability, a lower standard of proof than criminal cases requiring evidence beyond reasonable doubt.

“I welcome Mr Yates’s assurance that people will be informed where there is any suspicion that they might have been subject to phone-tapping, but he has not said how many people may be involved or how many journalists. We need a full and independent inquiry.”

And here’s Chris pointing out David Cameron’s “extrordinary lapse of judgement” in hiring Andy Coulson:

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Huhne calls for independent inquiry into newspapers’ phone tapping

There’s been a lot of ‘shock! horror!’ at this morning’s Guardian revelations by Nick Davies that ‘Rupert Murdoch’s News Group News­papers has paid out more than £1m to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his journalists’ repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories.’ The reaction is of course the right one. What I’m less convinced by is the supposed surprise of many in the media at the extent of the illegal activity undertaken by Mr Murdoch’s papers. (And don’t think for a moment the practise is restricted solely to the Murdoch empire).

By coincidence, I’ve just finished reading Nick Davies’s 2008 book, Flat Earth News, in which he devotes an entire chapter to what he terms ‘The Dark Arts’, focusing on the willing way in which newspaper reporters – and, yes, their editors and proprietors – sanctioned the increasing use of phone-tapping and other criminal acts to dig dirt, some of it in the public interest, much of it not. As Nick writes,

The truth is that what was once the occasional indulgence of a few shifty crime correspondents has become the regular habit of most news organisations. The hypocrisy is wonderful to behold. These organisations exist to tell the truth and yet routinely they lie about themselves. Many of these organisations have been the loudest voices in the law-and-order lobby, calling for tougher penalties against villains, tougher action against antisocial behaviour, even while they themselves indulge in bribery, corruption and theft of confidential information. (p.286)

Quite.

And good on Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne for writing today to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, to call for an independent inquiry into these allegations, pointing out that the Met is itself in the firing line because it may have neglected its duty to prosecute the serious offence of tapping and may have failed to alert victims of tapping.

Chris’s comments are below:

An independent inquiry by either the Independent Police Complaints Commission or another police force would be more appropriate than a further investigation by the Met. Why did prosecutions not take place? Why were the victims of tapping not informed? These are matters that the Metropolitan Police must answer.”

And here’s his full letter:

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Guardian endorses Lib Dems in Euro elections (more or less)

Following the endorsement of its sister paper the Observer and its leading columnist Polly Toynbee, the Guardian editorial today all-but formally recommends its readers vote for the Lib Dems in this Thursday’s Euro polls:

The case for supporting the Liberal Democrats is now very strong. Anyone who believes Britain should be an engaged member of the European Union – who does not believe scare stories about the Lisbon treaty and who wants to back a party that campaigns on this – should vote Lib Dem. So should anyone who cares about constitutional renewal. Nick Clegg’s party has ancestral

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

Opinion: Lib Dem councils should scrap their free newspapers

What is the point of free newspapers produced by local councils? These days, almost every council has one – but no one seems to know what they are for .

The argument you hear most frequently in favour of free newspapers is that they save councils money: without them, they would have to spend the money on advertising in local newspapers, and this works out more expensive than sending a out a free sheet via Royal Mail.

Another argument you hear is that sending free newspapers to every resident is the only way to deliver statutory notices to everyone. Leave it to the newspapers, the argument goes, and some people who don’t buy the paper might miss important news – such as (an example from my council newspaper I have in front of me) that the post of Independent Chair of the council’s Interim Standards Committee is up for grabs.

But let’s be honest – the real reason councils produce these newspapers is that they hate having an independent media that might, from time to time, draw the public’s attention to their shortcomings. What they really hate is having to spend (other people’s) money on newspaper advertising, only to then get criticised by those newspapers.

But as a strong advocate of a free press, allow me to make the argument against council newspapers in three succinct points.

1. They’re crap. No one wants to read 24 pages of council press releases, which is what all of them consist of. The photos are always dull: men in suits / council buildings / close-ups of staff on the phone. Any right thinking person who receives this through the letterbox will immediately shove it straight in the recycling, probably without even opening it. So this defeats the argument that councils are getting their messages out to “every resident”.

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Also tagged | 21 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 21st Apr - 2:16pm
    It makes sense to bring these assessments in-house so that some expertise is built up, the right decisions made and applicants are treated with respect...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 21st Apr - 2:16pm
    marcstevens: "Every day we’re treated to EU and migrant phobia … much of it lies and will be proved as such." Please see 'This Blessed...
  • User Avatarmatt 21st Apr - 2:03pm
    frankie Please will you stop making everything about brexit. This has nothing to do with brexit whatsoever. This is an issue that has been going...
  • User AvatarRob Parsons 21st Apr - 1:56pm
    @Joseph Bourke thank you :-)
  • User Avatarfrankie 21st Apr - 1:39pm
    Question is "What is the aim of Disablity payments, to maximise profit or to support the disabled?". If it to maximise profit the present system...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 21st Apr - 12:59pm
    Thanks for that, Rob. It looks like you have been able to get a strong team of candidates together. Good luck to Lewes Liberal Democrats...