Posts Tagged ‘lobby’

Oi journalists! Stop complaining about MPs tweeting campaign pics. It’s called democracy and it’s great

20/01/2015, 05:11:28 PM

by Ian McKenzie

There is currently a deep and widening fracture between the British people and their political parties, apparently. The chasm is so big that the political party as a concept is in terminal decline. The main two parties are in particular danger because their joint share of the national vote has fallen dramatically in the last 6 decades: it’s all over now, baby blue and baby red.

These assertions have become truths all but universally acknowledged; it’s all a bit boring really.

People do not join parties in large numbers any more. The electorate has slammed its doors on the main parties after saying “you are all the same”. People feel alienated and disenfranchised, believing that politicians are only in it for themselves and only come round at election times when they want votes and are nowhere to be seen during the rest of the electoral cycle. Yada yada yada.

I know all this because I’ve read it, and endlessly repeated variations of it, in newspapers and on Twitter.

It’s pervasive: explicit in opinion columns and covert in the news. The articles are written by political journalists and others and then tweeted and re-tweeted by them and their colleagues. These reports of widespread disconnection from the political process usually include expressions of regret; the demise of the parties is often celebrated. The theme is usually the same “you politicians had it coming, you’ve taken the electorate for granted for decades, the system’s broken and it’s your fault, you feckless, lazy reprobates.”

But the last couple of years have seen a little twist: Twitter has gone mainstream and not just in Westminster either. Hundreds of MPs and thousands of activists, in most constituencies, have continued doing what they have been doing for decades, knocking on doors and staying in touch with electors, only now they are doing it on Twitter.

In fact, Twitter has helped motivate and mobilise activism. Any Labour organiser will tell you there’s nothing like a bit of peer pressure and leading by manifest example to get people off their sofas and onto doorsteps. These days, hundreds of MPs, even those who once swore they would never stoop so low, and their campaign teams post thousands of tweets from, say, Acacia Avenue. We know it’s Acacia Avenue because the team is usually snapped in front of the road sign.


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It’s a white man’s world in the lobby

20/12/2013, 10:38:02 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Since 1884 the cosy club of the lobby has shaped political journalism in Britain. With privileged access to MPs in the lobby outside the Commons’ chamber and a remit to report politicians’ views on “lobby terms,” (e.g. without naming the source), their judgement on what merits reporting and how it is written, frames the political debate.

However, for such an influential institution, relatively little is known about its members. For most other parts of Britain’s governing elite, such as MPs or the judiciary, there is a basic level of transparency. The gender balance and proportion from minority communities are a matter of public knowledge and debate.

But not with the lobby.

Uncut has analysed the membership of this august body to see how it measures up. The results paint a depressingly familiar picture.

In all, there are 155 accredited members of the lobby. Out of this total, 33 or 21% are women and just 7 or 5% come from minority communities.

For minorities, the reality is a little worse than even the raw numbers suggest. Only 5 of the 7  lobby journalists are employed by the types of news organisation to which aspirants will routinely apply in the hope of one day receiving the honour of a lobby pass.

Take a bow Rajeev Syal, the Guardian and Observer’s Whitehall correspondent, Samana Haq, ITN’s Westminster news editor, John Piennar, 5 Live’s chief political correspondent, Kiran Stacey political correspondent of the FT and Anne Alexander, Daybreak’s politics producer. You are the lucky ones.

Team diversity is completed by Adel Darwish, a longtime lobby hand now plying his trade for Middle East News, and Ahmed Versi who edits and publishes the Muslim News.

If the lobby looked like the country there would be over double the number of women journalists and three times as many from minority communities.

This institution has the dubious distinction of being about as representative than the House of Commons on which it reports where 23% of the MPs are women and 4% are from an ethnic minority.


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