The Guardianista campaign against Murdoch, Coulson and all their works is spearheaded by Dan Sabbagh, a former Labour councillor and campaign manager for Oona King, who now covers media and technology for the Guardian. He produced a chart yesterday based on industry data showing that the Sky/News Corp. group controls 22% of our news consumption.
This is a threat to something called “media plurality”. This is, we are told by Dan Sabbagh and all their less successful media rivals, a bad thing. Look down that list and you’ll notice that the BBC controls 39.3% of our news consumption.
The BBC must therefore be an even worse threat to “media plurality”, particularly when one considers that it is protected from fair competition by a state subsidy via taxation. Somehow this doesn’t worry the Guardian, which is hardly surprising because BBC News often feels like the broadcast arm of that paper. When one considers that the BBC overwhelmingly recruits from its pages the Guardian-BBC axis is abundantly clear.
The monolithic BBC is too big and the news weltanschauung is only one of many inherent problems. The Beeb’s size is a result of the massive over-funding that we’re forced to provide for it, it is as if we had to pay a state detergent manufacturer a tax on owning a washing machine.
One example problem out of many is that the BBC undermines regional competitors, we would have a thriving local commercial TV/radio culture if the BBC didn’t crowd out competitors and make them unfeasible – it is hard to compete with a business that doesn’t have to make a commercial return.
The BBC should not have a monopoly on public service broadcasting – if the licence fee has to continue funding public service broadcasting it should be distributed to other providers besides the BBC.
The decentralisation of our broadcasting culture would really create a more plural media.
A new opinion poll from Angus Reid finds that 53% of the public back the police tactic of “kettling” student rioters (against 19% who think it “totally unjustified”). The public want the police to go further and 55% would like to see them use water cannon on protestors (36% oppose).
Guido has said it before, the student demonstrations are doing the students no favours, every demo costs them support. Only 13% of those polled were enthused by the protests, most felt shame (45%), disgust (45%), anger (42%) and sadness (50%).
Rather than letting students vandalise and urinate on Churchill’s statue on the next demo, it might be more popular with the public if Theresa May recalls some of the equipment from Northern Ireland and orders water cannons on the rioters. See how they like it…
Guido thinks that Labour should hold onto the Oldham and Saddleworth seat on January 13. The election will come days after the 20% VAT hike comes into effect. If Ed Miliband can’t win an election after a regressive tax hike is implemented without any mandate from the voters, he should quit politics. Really.
Tories voting tactically for the LibDem candidate could sway it, but that ain’t likely to happen. Punters on Smarkets give Labour an 80% chance of holding the seat, with the LibDems a 16% chance and the Tories a 4% chance respectively.
In the absence of a poll telling us otherwise that seems about right…
One of the problems with modern representative democracy is that it is disconnected from the voters. Despite focus groups, polling and intense marketing to voters, politicians are still unable to engage successfully with voters.
There are a number of issues where the political class refuses to carry out the wishes of the people. All polls show that there is majority support for capital punishment, yet there is no majority for it in parliament. It is not even an issue for parliamentarians even though the incidence of homicide is higher now than it was before the abolition of hanging. If the e-petitions legislation passes, Guido will put all the resources at his command into a campaign for a vote on the restoration of capital punishment for child and cop killers. Even if we don’t win the vote on the floor of the House, we shall at least see which MPs believe salus populi suprema est lex, and those that put the welfare of child killers above the wider community. Bring it on…
Prediction by New Statesman’s James Macintyre made 6 May, 2010…
“I predict that David Cameron, having failed to convince an intelligent electorate that he has fundamentally changed his party, will fail to form a government this week and will never become prime minister.”
Don’t eat too many mince pies…
Vince is whining that “…somebody who isn’t a constituent falsifies their name and address and comes in with a hidden microphone – it completely undermines the whole basis on which you operate as a local MP.” Does it really undermine the operation of an MP? If you are duplicitously two-faced, saying different things to different people it will undermine your standard operational procedure – lying.
As with Wikileaks people may have reservations about the manner in which the truth comes out, but one thing Guido is certain about: it is better that we the people know the truth. The political class treats voters like children who need to be shielded from the truth for their own good, making high-minded Platonic claims to “noble lies” when in reality they are too afraid of the personal consequences of living in truth. The truth will set us free…
UPDATE : Guido ran a survey when the Telegraph story came out asking, Could Cable Bring Down the Coalition? 4,217 politically savvy readers were polled, a whopping 89.85% said “No” and only 7.9% reckoned he could.
Methinks Cable is a bit vain in thinking he could bring down the government…
Is it just Guido that found Ed Miliband’s Christmas message rather intense and more than a little creepy?
He’ll be smiling and swaying next…
LibDem Paul Burstow is apparently very “embarrassed”. To the Telegraph stingers:
“I don’t want you to trust David Cameron…”
To the public:
“David Cameron has my full trust”.
To govern is to choose…
April 20th 2010:
As Cleggmania grips the country, Guy News brings you a special report:
Tom Baldwin is biting. Guido isn’t the only one to notice how sharp Labour’s attacks have been on the Coalition today. For the first time Ed Miliband has had a press strategy that is cutting through and his “coalition split” line is leading the news. It was the CCHQ and Downing Street Christmas parties last night. Were there some sore heads this morning that weren’t quite on the ball?
It’s the first day of recess today yet it doesn’t look like are Labour are going to let the Tories forget that Vince was right – though damaged he wasn’t sackable. Baldwin is proving his ability to nail a decent line. If Downing Street spinners thought they might be able to sneak off early for a bit of Christmas shopping then they have another thing coming.
Speaker Bercow is probably one of the few people in politics with more enemies than Guido. He has proved those former Tory colleagues who warned against him right in their minds by slapping down the PM at PMQs on bizarre grounds, having a stand up row with the Tory chief-whip and being widely perceived as partial by the government benches. His slightly dotty Labour-supporting missus, whilst adding to the gaiety of life with her demented twittering, does the Speaker no favours, the Tory press despises the couple. Rumour has it that at the last Labour Party conference the Mail’s Andy Pierce, much the worse for wear, insulted Sally Bercow with such misogynistic vitriol that she was reduced to tears and his own colleagues had to remove him from the bar. Suffice to say the Bercows get a terrible press.
Guido thinks in many ways Bercow is better than his predecessor, but he has clearly lost the confidence of a signifcant section of the House. Nigel Evans coming out is widely seen as a precursor to a putsch which has the acquiesence of the government benches if not their official imprimatur.
That being the case the new bet on the Speaker being ousted looks good value…
As Christmas approaches and things wind down in Westminster Guido thought he would reflect on his favourite stories, headlines, videos etc from the last twelve months, starting today with his favourite dirty digging around old favourite Caroline Spelman. Things got a bit awkward when the Secretary of State’s lobbying past came back to haunt her:
Farm-Gate : Spelman’s Agri-Business, Bio-Tech Lobbying Past
May 14th 2010
On the campaign trail David Cameron said
“It is the next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.”
This week Cameron appointed Caroline Spelman to be the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Obviously he feels that nanny-gate is all water under the bridge. Spelman’s long history in agricultural politics and lobbying somehow makes her an ideal candidate for the job in his judgment.
Spelman spent her days before becoming an MP in the agri-business, with a lobbying focus mainly on sugar beet, one of the most heavily subsidised crops in Europe. She was the Sugar Beet Commodity Secretary for the NFU in the early eighties before becoming Deputy Director of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers. Seemingly well connected in the field, Caroline and her husband Mark went on to set up “Spelman, Cormack & Associates” in 1989 as a food and bio-technology lobbying company.
For over ten years the new Secretary of State, along with her husband, lobbied the very department she now runs. Caroline resigned as a director less than a year ago and conveniently transferred her share of the company to her husband. The company address was also changed from her constituency home, for which Spelman claimed around £40,000 on expenses for cleaning and bills, to their million pound London flat. According to the company accounts last year, no rent was paid on this “office” subsidised by the taxpayers.
Mark Spelman, who was also a Tory candidate (unsuccessful), uses both his name and his wife’s maiden name (Cormack) on his firm’s letterhead – that won’t hinder business. After all, the Minister who is now the number one target to be lobbied has her name on the company letterhead. Caroline Spelman lobbied for the industry and is now in charge of negotiating quotas, subsidies and price tariffs with the EU Agricultural Council. Her “family firm” deals with bio-tech clients that the Secretary of State is now responsible for regulating in the GM foods sector. As a result of anti-competitive EU regulations and industry lobbying British consumers are forced to pay prices for sugar which are massively inflated in comparison to the rest of the world. Did Cameron know that she was so recently a shareholder in a lobbying firm focused on Defra before he appointed her to the position? Because the whole thing taints politics and shows the far-too-cosy relationship between lobbyists, government, business and money…
Another trip down memory lane tomorrow…
Downing Street says:
[…] Read the rest
“Following comments made by Vince Cable to the Daily Telegraph, the Prime Minister has decided that he will play no further part in the decision over News Corporation’s proposed takeover of BSkyB. In addition, all responsibility for competition and policy issues relating to media, broadcasting, digital and telecoms sectors will be transferred immediately to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.