The PMOS, Simon Lewis, and the chairman of the Lobby, Jean Eaglesham, yesterday announced that the system of Downing Street Lobby briefings is to be reviewed “in light of the changes in the reporting of the work of government in an increasingly fast-moving and on-line media world”. On hearing the news Guido – enjoying a two bottle lunch since PMQs was delayed – paraphrased lyrics from the Buggles hit on Twitter in celebration.
A working group of six lobby hacks and five government spin doctors is going to come up with recommendations to be implemented next year. No one from the fast-moving online media world is on the working group. Guido has made his views about the Westminster embedded client media that constitutes the Lobby system clear over the years (see Newsnight and The Times). The meek acceptance of non-attributable briefings, often of questionable truth, is hardly helpful to the functioning of an open democracy. This method of information distribution is glorified as “on Lobby terms”.
Friends of Mandy have spun the Guardian the idea that the Dark Lord himself should give twice weekly televised briefings* in a new information minister role. The prospect of Comical Mandy batting off questions from the Lobby has some appeal. It will all be a pantomime until the clubby culture of the Lobby changes.
*Guido has long supported televised Lobby briefings, ask yourself why is it that Lobby hacks oppose televising them?