Hat-tip : Recess Monkey
Brown went to Baghdad last week and told the troops they were getting a below inflation 2% pay rise. Not inspiring.
BBC audio here.
Guido’s instant reaction to Blair’s speech is below. Having now re-read the speech it seems a reasonably accurate analysis of the state of media coverage of politics. The problem is that Blair has to a great extent brought this upon himself, contemporary politicians have got the media coverage they deserve. It is not really a development borne out of technological advance, the cynicism is their own creation, not a product of technological change or 24/7 rolling news demands – as he seems to imply. New Labour conceived the Downing Street grid of rolling media announcements, firing out releases to fit the government’s narrative and control the agenda.One section made Guido laugh, when Blair said;
It used to be thought – and I include myself in this – that help was on the horizon. New forms of communication would provide new outlets to by-pass the increasingly shrill tenor of the traditional media. In fact, the new forms can be even more pernicious, less balanced, more intent on the latest conspiracy theory multiplied by five.
This is unreal, perhaps he imagined that if the media was democratised by citizens they would be more susceptible to his charm than hardened journalists and media moguls. In reality the citizen-journalists of the new media are less manipulable, less embedded in the Westminster politico-media nexus, less needy in terms of access and more likely to tell it as they see it without fear. That is not shrill, that is clear and unspun. Blair went on to complain that
…it is rare today to find balance in the media. Things, people, issues, stories, are all black and white. Life’s usual grey is almost entirely absent. “Some good, some bad”; “some things going right, some going wrong”: these are concepts alien to today’s reporting.
Whether from the left or right, bloggers do tend to see things in black and white terms, right and wrong, not in shades of grey. Is it naive to expect high moral and ethical standards from those who seek the privilege of serving the public in a democracy? Maybe. Guido thinks we should still demand the highest moral and ethical standards of our law-makers. Is that too much to ask?
A couple of months ago Bryan Appleyard wrote an article arguing that “Guido is Blair’s true legacy”, the Speccie’s Matthew d’Ancona in the latest GQ magazine says bloggers have “changed the terms of trade”. Good, because politicians really do deserve the treatment they get here, they don’t deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt, to be allowed to keep their dirty secrets, to quote Paxman, political journalists need to always be asking themselves “Why is this lying bastard lying to me?” The damage which saps the country’s confidence and self-belief has been done by politicians, not by the messengers of the old or new media. Politicians, and particularly Tony Blair, have only themselves to blame.
Finally to those who worry about regulatory threats to blogging, forget it. Guido got it direct from Tim Toulmin (director of the Press Complaints Commission), they know they can’t touch Guido and they won’t even try. Short of going down the Iranian/Chinese route of censoring the internet there is nothing they can do but bluster. So feral and untamed Guido will happily stay.
The LibDem’s Lord Oakeshott asks: “Why should the taxpayer put his card behind the bar for Lord Levy’s leaving party?” Guido would be happy to see the taxpayer pick-up the tab for levy’s food and drink – porridge and prison tea…
Just in from the Court:
A Metropolitan police security officer, Chris Ham, 21, told the high court in London today that Mr Jones, the MP for Clwyd South for 20 years, swore at him after he “politely” asked to see his pass at Portcullis House in Westminster. Mr Ham, who said he had never seen Mr Jones before the incident, described the outburst as having left him “shocked and flustered”.
Giving evidence on behalf of Mail on Sunday publisher Associated Newspapers, Mr Ham said:“His immediate response was to tell me to fuck off and that he was a member of parliament. I again asked politely, persisted. His second response was ‘Fuck off, you should know who I am, you don’t have the right to question me, you are only security.’”
Who is fucked now?
Remember, for example, what they told us about the Women’s Institute member who led the slow-hand-clapping of Blair – that she had a National Front past. That was feral spin, vicious and untrue. Do you remember Alastair Campbell’s plan to “fuck” David Kelly? That was feral. Do you remember Alastair Campbell’s foul mouthed tirades? They were feral. The old woman mistreated at an NHS hospital during an election campaign? “Racist” they smeared, without any evidence. The Brownite pack’s undermining of Blairite colleagues like Ruth Kelly and John Reid? Wasn’t that feral?
Blair’s treatment by the media got rough only after he was completely found out. It was the dodgy dossier, and the false prospectus for war that did for him, his spin was until then more than a match for the media pack.
UPDATE : The IPPR has just emailed out a piece (on the back of the Blair speech) by Sir Michael White where he blames everyone else for the “gross tabloidisation of national journalism” including of course the “unmediated internet”. He repeats his claim that the Loans for Lordships investigation is just political opportunism by the SNP and Blair’s political enemies. Michael White has spent 30 years covering politics close-up, he is no longer able to see that selling seats in the legislature is just plain wrong. He basically says “everybody did it”, why the fuss now?
The better question is, why only now has there been a fuss? Well if a young new MP had not stumbled upon the corruption legislation, if a less determined detective had not been given the case and the story wasn’t pushed relentlessly by “unmediated” voices, there would have been no fuss.
Just as well the likes of Sir Michael White and Nick Robinson were ignored and some kept on at the story in an unmediated and grossly tabloid way, eh?
Before entering parliament Martyn Jones worked in a brewery and in a 20-year backbench career since he has hardly risen to the heights of recognition. Yet when a Portcullis House security guard asked him to show his ID card he went into a full blown “do-you-know-who-I-am” routine and told the guard, who was only doing his job, that “I don’t give a shit what you are. You should know who members of Parliament are.”
Giving evidence in court Jones claimed that only about 10% of MPs wore their passes and it was better for security to identify MPs by their faces. Is that true, do only 60 or so MPs wear their passes? How is it better for security not to wear a pass?
UPDATE : On a scale of 0 -100%, the Public Whip rates his opposition to ID cards at 0%.
A co-conspirator writes
On Sunday in Oxford Gordon referred to ‘party reforms’ to make Labour a 21st Century party. The few proposals he listed were all pretty dull.
I also managed to catch two party officials ‘helping a questioner’ with the question they had submitted for gordon to ask. She turned out to be a young NEC member, and when it got around to her she asked about making anti retroviral drugs more widely available to HIV/aids sufferers in Africa.
They were cagey when I pointed out I had seen them talking to her, going over the written question and they seeing her write another question on the back of the paper.
It really does beggar belief, he can’t lose because there are no votes, yet the Stalinist still rigs the questions to make himself look good. There are grim days coming..
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Alan Rusbridger opines…
“One thing that Snowden has taught us journalists is that it’s essential to be paranoid.”