Tom Watson: Lobby System Against Public InterestLobby 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:




Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Theresa May tells Bercow:

“Mr Speaker-elect, can I congratulate you on your re-election. At least someone got a landslide.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.
Happy Independence Day! Happy Independence Day!
Sun Cleared by Hospital Sun Cleared by Hospital
Exporters Order Books at 29 Year High Exporters Order Books at 29 Year High
Corbyn Refuses to Bow to The Queen Corbyn Refuses to Bow to The Queen
McDonnell Repeatedly Backed Far Left ‘Day of Rage’ Group McDonnell Repeatedly Backed Far Left ‘Day of Rage’ Group
“Soft” and “Hard” Brexit Terms Obsolete “Soft” and “Hard” Brexit Terms Obsolete
Hammond’s “Sound Money” Speech Sadly All Spin Hammond’s “Sound Money” Speech Sadly All Spin
Tommy Robinson Called British Muslims “Enemy Combatants” Tommy Robinson Called British Muslims “Enemy Combatants”
Corbyn Praised at London Hezbollah Rally Corbyn Praised at London Hezbollah Rally
Government Understaffed – Key SpAd Vacancies Up for Grabs Government Understaffed – Key SpAd Vacancies Up for Grabs
Sunday Shows Sunday Shows
Clive Lewis: “Burn Neoliberalism” Clive Lewis: “Burn Neoliberalism”
Corbynista Ultras Involved in Storming Kensington Council Corbynista Ultras Involved in Storming Kensington Council
CCHQ Already Preparing for Next Election CCHQ Already Preparing for Next Election
CCHQ Diverted Resources from ‘Safe Seats’ Tories Lost CCHQ Diverted Resources from ‘Safe Seats’ Tories Lost
Constituent Claims New Labour MP Called Her “Ugly B*tch” Constituent Claims New Labour MP Called Her “Ugly B*tch”
Corbyn vs Blair Corbyn vs Blair
How to Speak Like a Corbynista How to Speak Like a Corbynista