Monday, September 10, 2012

Free Thinking Lobby

First there was the man from the Sun:

Then the chairman of the Lobby:

And then the man from the Mirror:

Is there an echo in here?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Michael White Owes Guido An Apology

The controversial Downing Street Second Email System story is back in the news. In 2007 in the middle of Blair’s Loans for Lordships crisis and the arrest of Downing Street officials by police searching for evidence, Guido alleged that there was a second, unofficial, email system in Downing Street used to send off-the-record emails. The Mail on Sunday ran with the story, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman under questioning from the Lobby denied its existence at two briefings. Guido demanded that the PMOS issued a correction, none was forthcoming. Shortly after on Newsnight, back in his more camera-shy days, Guido repeated the allegation. Michael White in no uncertain terms sided with the PMOS saying Guido’s story was untrue, based on the word of PMOS rather than any research.

Under questioning about this subject by MPs on the Public Administration Select Committee Blair’s Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell also claimed “There is no second email system inside No 10.” Damian McBride two weeks ago confirmed the existence of a second email system in Downing Street. Michael will surely want to correct his naive mistake…

Monday, June 4, 2012

QotD

Labour Uncut observes the Lobby’s tweeting groupthink…

“while twitter generates pressures that make the lobby more politically independent of their employers, paradoxically, it makes the individual journalists much more alike. The tenor and judgement of tweets reacting to events are remarkably similar across the lobby.

One thing you will never see: two lobby journalists tearing into each other on twitter. Bloggers, yes. Lobby, no.

The net impact of twitter has been to embed an even higher level of groupthink amongst the political journalists, and most important of all, to make this hive-mind view public, on a minute by minute basis.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Going for Gove

Gove’s articulate and feisty performance at Leveson has won him plenty of friends this afternoon:

Word is that he would never run against Osborne in a leadership election, but with more performances like today…

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

PM’s spokesman says…

“I’m scouring back copies of the FT to see where Peston’s next scoop is coming from.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

Simon McGee Going to Spin at Transport

Another day and another poacher turning game-keeper. Guido hears that Simon McGee of the Sunday Times is off to spin for the Department of Transport as their Head of News. This is the latest in a series of hack-to-government transfers that has included Gabriel Milland, formerly of the Express, going to Education and the Times’ Sam Lister going to Health. It also emerges today that Michael Tait, who was the sympathetic Political Editor of the Scottish Daily Mail, has gone to spin for Ruth Davidson, the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives. And which other Political Editor, very friendly with Craig Oliver, is desperate for a senior Head of Comms job at pretty much any big department?

Captain of the Shippers

The Mail’s deputy political editor Tim Shipman is the new Chairman of the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

He will no doubt install a little more fun in the normally stuffy organisation, while embodying its amour-propre outlook.

His Lobby colleagues’ spoof Twitter account for him is a must follow.

Drinks all round.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gobby Saved by Twitter, Serjeant at Arms Humiliated

Good news for the BBC’s Paul Lambert following the ridiculous decision by the Serjeant at Arms to ban him after he filmed her embarrassing failure to prevent the breach of security during the testimony of the Murdochs. Gobby’s pass has been restored after Louise Mensch raised a point of order regarding the banning of the BBC’s Gobby and a Twitter campaign to #SaveGobby took off. Why on earth was he banned in the first place? This is a public building, paid for at great expense by the public. You would have thought after the battle for opening up MPs’ expenses they would have learnt. Parliamentarians are our servants, they work for us and the Serjent at Arms would do well to remember who is the boss…

Gobby Out of the Lobby

Paul Waugh has the full story, but it seems the BBC’s roving fixer Paul Lambert, affectionately named Gobby for his polite and considerate questioning style, has had his parliamentary pass removed after he chased the Murdoch pie tosser through the estate, filming him in cuffs.

As if the Commons authorities and security didn’t humiliate themselves enough in front of the world’s media, now they are trying to pass the buck. Instead of kicking out hacks for broadcasting their embarrassing failings, perhaps the men in tights should be pointing fingers at their own ranks. Maybe they didn’t want Gobby shouting “Are you going to resign Serjeant at Arms…?” 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tom Watson: Lobby System Against Public Interest
Lobby System Pinnacle of Implicit Politico-Media Corruption

Imagine a secretive organisation whose members have privileged access to Downing Street. Imagine that the members of this organisation receive information covertly. Imagine that the rules of this organisation force the members to withhold information from outsiders if the Prime Minister tells them so to do. Then consider that the members of this closed, opaque, secretive organisation are supposed to hold politicians to account on behalf of the public. After 208 years it is time to end the Lobby system.

The gentlemen of the Lobby drink in subsidised bars, from which the public are excluded, with the politicians they are supposed to hold to account on behalf of that same public. Cowardice and cronyism runs right through the Lobby because they are fearful of being taken off the teat of pre-packaged stories served to them.  That is not journalism, that is copy-taking, this blog was established in part because Guido believes the Lobby system fails the public. The Fourth Estate may not have a formal constitutional role, but the role is real. The role is not to produce “client journalism”.

Peter Oborne in his brilliant Triumph of the Political Class characterises the Lobby system as having produced a tame “client media”. He is absolutely right, the Lobby is far too cosily embedded in the politico-media system, far too close to their subjects, with the likes of Nick Robinson flashing his taxpayer-financed credit card to pour the better vintages down the throats of ministers who have their lunch on the BBC telly-taxpayers. The same ministers who had their expensed groceries sent to their mortgage subsidised home at the taxpayers’ expense. The system stinks, those who are supposed to be watching over politicians – journalists – and the politicians themselves, are the only ones who benefit from the system staying the same.

Two years ago the then PMOS, Simon Lewis, and the then chairman of the Lobby, Jean Eaglesham, announced that the system of Downing Street Lobby briefings was 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”. A working group of six lobby hacks and five government spin doctors was to come up with recommendations to be implemented last year. No one from the fast-moving online media world was on the working group. Did anything change? No.

Tom Watson has just called for an end to the Lobby system and off the record briefings. Cameron has said he supports all contacts between politicians and newspaper executives being a matter of public record. More transparency is clearly a good thing. That transparency should be applied to the Lobby system…

See also: In 2007 Guido filmed this polemic against the Lobby system for Newsnight:


Seen Elsewhere

Treatment of Ashya King’s Family Authoritarian | Brendan O'Neill
Stop the War Should Disband | Rob Marchant
State Should Not Act as Parent | Kathy Gyngell
Guido’s Column | Sun
Don’t Bottle Schools Revolution | Dom Cummings
Sack Bercow | Melanie Phillips
Tories Should Have Open Primary in Clacton | Mark Wallace
Osborne Tricked Into Haircut | Janan Ganesh
100 Tory Eurosceptics Defy Cameron | Indy
ConHome Manifesto Launched | ConHome
Play the Great Clacton By-Election Game! | ConservativeHome


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“I stab people in the front, not the back.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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