Skip to main content

The Press puts the boot in to the Lib Dems... and we know why

The British press are having a field day with the Liberal Democrats. Day after day a little more juice is wrung out of the allegations that former chief executive Chris Rennard groped women in the Lib Dem office. 

I think we are entitled to ask "Why?"

It is not that such usually misogynist newspapers as the Daily Mail have discovered a new compassion for women abused in their workplaces. Similar allegations are made against journalists every few months, if one believes Private Eye.

It is not even about whether the allegations were properly handled. They probably weren't.

It is about politics pure and simple. The timing of the story- a few days before a critical by-election that the Liberal Democrats must win if they are to have any chance of an electoral come-back- is the real clue.

The fact is too that the scale of the coverage is a real giveaway- the Press has an agenda that is overtly and implacably hostile to the Liberal Democrats: their party, their leader and their policies. In particular their policies towards the Leveson inquiry. 

The attitude of 95% of journalists to the Liberal Democrats is "if you can't beat them, smear them". From the absurd allegations that "Nick Clegg helped a charity" (also helped by his wife), the coverage of the Lib Dems has been alternately contemptuous and ridiculous.

What seems to be interesting is that the voters of Eastleigh may not be playing ball. Poll after poll seems to show the Lib Dems squeaking through- which is most certainly not what the British press wants to have as the coda for the story.

If the Lib Dems do claim an improbable victory, then it really asks two questions of the media in the UK: firstly since they have continued to publish smear and innuendo- convicting a man before he can even make his case and damning all his associates- many would ask whether this shows that Leveson is even more necessary. 

Secondly, and far more worrying for the Fleet Street editors, will be whether Eastleigh is a demonstration of the limits of their power. Despite all guns blazing on the story, the intended target, the Eastleigh electorate, seems not to be responding.

I have long ago learned to dismiss headlines which use capital letters for emphasis, as in the typical Daily Mail headline; "a MILLION Bulgarians coming to YOUR town will give you cancer". Perhaps the voters are straining out the rest of the headlines now too. 

Such a failure of the Press in Eastleigh- I suspect- will simply accelerate the transformation of the Dailies Mail and Telegraph into becoming the political wing of "Hello" magazine.

I guess we will see on Friday morning.  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Post Truth and Justice

The past decade has seen the rise of so-called "post truth" politics.  Instead of mere misrepresentation of facts to serve an argument, political figures began to put forward arguments which denied easily provable facts, and then blustered and browbeat those who pointed out the lie.  The political class was able to get away with "post truth" positions because the infrastructure that reported their activity has been suborned directly into the process. In short, the media abandoned long-cherished traditions of objectivity and began a slow slide into undeclared bias and partisanship.  The "fourth estate" was always a key piece of how democratic societies worked, since the press, and later the broadcast media could shape opinion by the way they reported on the political process. As a result there has never been a golden age of objective media, but nevertheless individual reporters acquired better or worse reputations for the quality of their reporting and

We need to talk about UK corruption

After a long hiatus, mostly to do with indolence and partly to do with the general election campaign, I feel compelled to take up the metaphorical pen and make a few comments on where I see the situation of the UK in the aftermath of the "Brexit election". OK, so we lost.  We can blame many reasons, though fundamentally the Conservatives refused to make the mistakes of 2017 and Labour and especially the Liberal Democrats made every mistake that could be made.  Indeed the biggest mistake of all was allowing Johnson to hold the election at all, when another six months would probably have eaten the Conservative Party alive.  It was Jo Swinson's first, but perhaps most critical, mistake to make, and from it came all the others.  The flow of defectors and money persuaded the Liberal Democrat bunker that an election could only be better for the Lib Dems, and as far as votes were concerned, the party did indeed increase its vote by 1.3 million.   BUT, and it really is the bi

Breaking the Brexit logjam

The fundamental problem of Brexit has not been that the UK voted to leave the European Union. The problem has been the fact that the vote was hijacked by ignorant, grandstanding fools who interpreted the vote as a will to sever all and every link between the UK and the European Union. That was then and is now a catastrophic policy. To default to WTO rules, when any member of the WTO could stop that policy was a recipe for the UK to be held hostage by any state with an act to grind against us. A crash out from the EU, without any structure to cope, was an act of recklessness that should disqualify anyone advocating it from any position of power whatsoever. That is now the most likely option because the Conservative leadership, abetted by the cowardly extremism of Corbyn, neither understood the scale of the crisis, now had any vision of how to tackle it. Theresa May is a weak and hapless Prime Minster, and her problems started when she failed to realize that there was a compromise that