Posts Tagged ‘the lobby’

Mad Uncle Rupert unsettles anti-Leveson lobby journalists

16/10/2012, 03:41:33 PM

Whispers reach Uncut of disquiet in the lobby on the right approach to oppose Leveson.

The overwhelming majority of parliamentary journalists view the Leveson report as something to be feared and distrusted. The span of opinion ranges from Leveson’s anticipated proposals presaging the end of civilisation to simply sounding the death knell for freedom.

But signs are emerging of a split between the vituperative stance adopted by senior management at some of the leading anti-Leveson titles and the footsoldiers of the lobby.

A recent Mail editorial calling for the Leveson to investigate the BBC, following the Saville revelations, was seen to have made the right point in the wrong way.

The opening paragraph laced into anti-hacking campaigners, Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Max Mosley, branding them “three harpies from hell”. One hack at another paper, sympathetic to the  Mail’s position said,

“It was way too over the top. The point is about judging the BBC and the press by the same standard, but personalising it like this makes it seem like they’ve got a vendetta and undermines the case. People will think its sour grapes. Dacre needs to button it.”

Then over the weekend, Rupert Murdoch tweeted “Told UK’s Cameron receiving scumbag celebrities pushing for even more privacy laws.” Labelling victims of hacking that News International has had to pay substantial sums, as “scumbags” was widely viewed as a major mistake.  One journo murmured,

“He’s basically the mad uncle, locked in the attic, crashing about. Now he’s got twitter, the window is open and everyone in the outside world can hear him. Noone needs that.”

Another scribbler worried about the effect that the almost inevitable divestment of News Corporation’s British stable of papers will have on Rupert Murdoch’s behaviour,

“It’s alright for him. He knows he won’t even have any British newspapers to bother about soon, he can spout off as much as he likes. It’s the rest of us that will have to live with the consequences.”

With journalists from at least one paper under strict instructions to not even tweet about Leveson before the report is published, the signs are that the anti-Leveson lobby is feeling jittery.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The press is about to turn on Ed Miliband

28/09/2012, 10:41:47 AM

by Atul Hatwal

A couple of weeks ago, the conversation among a small group of lobby journalists perched at a Westminster bar (what is the proper term for such a group: a conspiracy? A Pernod perhaps?) turned to an important question: do you think Ed Miliband can make it into Number 10?

Despite the polls, the government’s rolling omnishambles and even some of their own past articles, the answer was a resounding, “no.” No ifs. No buts.

So what, you might think. Just cynical noises off from Westminster insiders, irrelevant to most peoples’ lives.

True enough, but these are also the people who frame political debate in this country. The hive mind of the lobby, with its shared assumptions and outlook mediates political truth in this country.

It shapes the tenor of the articles across the press which then set the agenda for the broadcast media.

Since the budget, the lobby narrative about the Labour leader has been quite benign. It has run along the lines of, “Ed Miliband is underestimated and actually quite effective.”

It’s helped the Labour leader garner substantially more positive reviews from the media for his House of Commons performances, despite there being little substantive difference from the previous year when he was panned each week, and spawned a series of pieces talking up the prospect of Labour victory.

Fraser Nelson in the Spectator exemplified this tendency earlier in the month with his announcement of the “Age of Ed”. He declared, “Yes Ed is no showman. But maybe voters have had enough of charisma.”

For Labour’s spinners this has been manna from heaven: authoritative writing from the right that endorses the happy story of the headline polls. The twittering echo chamber of Labour activists, wannabe MPs, loyalist MPs, friendly bloggers and journalists has been ringing like Big Ben.

However, although this has been a relatively stable equilibrium for several months, there are signs that the situation might be about to change.

A few days after the Pernod of journalists wrote off Miliband’s chances, a poll came out which showed an absolutely enormous Labour lead – the Ipsos Mori survey which had the party 15 points ahead.

The poll was widely reported, but with a twist.

The articles all cited the large Labour advantage but then zeroed in on David Cameron’s commanding lead over Ed Miliband as peoples’ preference for prime minister. The story was the same from the New Statesman to the Daily Mail.

It was as notable as it was peculiar.

Ed Miliband has consistently trailed David Cameron in the leadership stakes in almost every poll, but this has rarely been such a prominent feature in reports of the polling. Almost every piece this time highlighted the gap between the leaders in the headline.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

We’re not the story. Get used to it, says Dan Hodges

25/06/2010, 10:28:03 AM

Two chance Westminster meetings this week set me thinking about one of the big tactical problems facing Labour.

The first involved a discussion with two Labour supporting  members of the Parliamentary lobby, the elite squadron of registered press hawks who follow politics from an exclusive eyrie in the House of Commons.

From debating great matters of state (why Fabio Capello should persevere with Emile Heskey), the conversation drifted to the merits of their key contacts. Routine enough, except that the names were suddenly unfamiliar. Where once were Charlie, Dugher and  Damian, now it was Andy, Gaby and Henry. This was the beltway equivalent of the wrong picture coming into your head when you hear the words “prime minister”. For me, it was almost worse. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon