Guido understands the Lobby can now officially breathe a sigh of relief, they will have until next year to brace for the introduction of Allegra Stratton’s televised afternoon briefings, which will hopefully be the beginning of the end for the ink-stained Westminster press cartel. The fancy new broadcasting room renovation won’t be ready until January…
Guido recently stumbled across a very relevant bit of lobby history from 1950, in an old obituary of the BBC’s first Parliamentary Correspondent. It shows the Lobby, while they will inevitably kick up a storm when the change comes in from January, have invariably been opposed to reform, though eventually they come round to it.
Following the reconstruction of the House of Commons after the Blitz, the BBC sent their first Westminster correspondent, ER Thompson, to report from the new Commons gallery. Thompson was shocked to experience “craft resistance” from fellow journalists, who did not appreciate the public learning about debates so early before papers went to print. The Lobby even called an emergency resolution* meeting upon discovering Thompson and his colleague had been allocated seats in the front row. At one point even the BBC were insurgent outsiders for the Lobby cartel…
When he retired from the BBC, aged 60, Thompson was recruited by ITV to manage the first two experiments in broadcasting the proceedings of Parliament. Guido suspects he’d enjoy the digital reporting of politics.
The Lobby cartel’s objection to rival media outlets sharing news before they were able to publish continued all the way through to 2020, when Guido followed in ER Thompson’s footsteps by live-tweeting No. 10’s press briefings before the club’s self-imposed embargo was lifted; despite outrage and intimidation, the Lobby again got used to change. Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.
The obituary of the one man who covered Parliament for the BBC during Clement Attlee’s administration is well worth a read. The same task is now carried out by some 120 Beeboid clones.
*Guido has also been the subject of an emergency resolution, for turning up improperly dressed to a Lobby lunch. The inflated self-importance of Lobby hacks is only equalled by MPs.