Posts Tagged ‘off the record’

“Transparent” is the new “progressive”. Oh goody.

18/07/2011, 12:00:13 PM

by Tom Harris

Did I hear correctly? Did David Cameron actually say that every meeting or discussion any MP has with a journalist should have to be registered from now on?

No, he didn’t, actually. Though that’s how some outlets were reporting the Prime Minister’s views when he made his statement on the News International inquiry last Wednesday. All ministers should register such encounters, and the opposition should follow suit, he slyly suggested.

Can you imagine the panic that must have gone through both front benches at that point? What, tell the world that I’m having a drink with So-And-So from the Daily Whatever tonight? What happens when So-And-So’s byline appears on a story in tomorrow’s edition revealing that “a senior minister/front bencher” is unhappy with the leadership of “the leader/Prime Minister”? The ancient right to stab one’s leader in the back while being nice to his face is sacrosanct and was even included in Magna Carta. Probably.

And it would be extremely foolhardy to risk it and not register such an encounter, what with all these nosey bloody parliamentary researchers desperate to spot MPs having discreet conversations with journalists and email them to EyeSpyMP on Twitter.

This all smacks of the silly and damaging one-upmanship that prevailed during the expenses crisis of 2009; remember when Gordon and Harriet were reported as wishing to ban all MPs from having outside interests on the basis that it would damage the Tories more than us? They had to settle instead for the half-way house of forcing MPs to declare every penny of outside income, however small, and to invent a figure for the time spent earning it (“Harris, T: writing a post for Labour Uncut – four and a half minutes – remuneration nil”). (more…)

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