Sunday, March 04, 2007

Lib Dems spinning out of control

In the days when I regularly wrote Focus leaflets and letters to the local paper I generally tried to avoid mentioning our opponents by name. I reasoned that they got quite enough publicity as it was.

Whoever wrote the press release on Menzies Campbell's speech today does not believe in this rule. In fact he or she mentioned Gordon Brown no fewer than six times. But then the speech itself came across as being addressed more to the Chancellor than to the audience in the hall.

In the light of this, we should not complain too hard - entertaining as Joe Taylor's attempt is - if the BBC reports the speech under the headline "Sir Menzies seeks deal with Br0wn".

Things have moved on, however, and - as is the way with the BBC website - the story has been edited so the headline now reads "Sir Menzies sets tests for Brown".

It seems that the original story and headline flowed from a briefing from a "senior official", who blithely told BBC journalists that proportional representation would not be "a deal maker or a deal breaker" in negotiations to form a coalition in the event of a hung parliament.

The BBC story now includes the following paragraph:
But in a sign of disagreement within Sir Menzies' inner circle over the party's position, his chief of staff Ed Davey told BBC News 24 he "did not recognise" the source of the story.
This suggests that the "senior official" was not as senior as he or she led the BBC to believe. But where is the new professionalism we were promised from Ming's leadership?



Onlinefocus Team said...

This is how I see it from sitting at home in Essex :If Ming can pressurise Brown into really moving his party by abolishing the council tax, making the green tax switch , restoring local democracy etc, then that would be a massive achievement in itself.

If Brown doesn't do all this - and I don't think he will - then Ming can turn to our party and justifiably say "Labour have had their chance to work with us and they've blown it..."

Then he can talk to the Tories with a (hopefully) united party behind him.

But I can see the Tory press having a field day tomorrow....

Anonymous said...

I've actually made a complaint to the BBC via the website, their coverage of the conference has been awful. Seemingly going for sensationalist headlines based on 'unamed party sources', rather than a correct analysis of what has actually been said by Sir Menzies or others. Bad form BBC.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, the trouble is that Ming did actually say 'I’ve got five tests for Gordon Brown.' And went on to talk about them in detail.

The speech itself - regardless of spin or press release - seemed to say: 'Tony Blair - terrible. Cameron - terrible, because just like Tony Blair [I agree]. Gordon Brown - redeemable.

Until now, I've been a highly enthusiastic backer of Ming's leadership, and have always liked what he had to say. This speech leaves me wondering, however.

Anonymous said...

In fact the 'source' was senior; as several journalists on the way back confirmed, it was the head of the party's press operation Mark Littlewood.

Whether he should be first in line or wait till after the speechwriter, I'm not sure.

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked, astonished and utterly flabbergasted... that the LibDems actually have a press operation.

I thought the management of your coverage and message was the pinnacle of laissez-faire. But if this is what happens when you are actually trying - you give the impression to the country that they should support Labour - then maybe its time for Mr Littlewood to spend more time with his family, or someone else's.

Chris Paul said...

How can Ming sets tests like "softer on crime" and then go any play with Tories if Gordon Brown refuses? How can Ming reconcile working with a party who were 95% behind the war in Iraq when Labour had a 40% rebellion on the matter - not too different I'd guess from how the Lib dems would have split on a free vote or if they were in a coalition with the LP at the time?

Ming has completely blown it. Blaming the press guy - presumably following orders - the BBC, or the media as a whole is ridiculous. The story is there ther are simply covering it.

The speech was appalling on every measure of leadership speeches I can think of. Flat. Pauses for canned applause that stayed empty. Ming is a gift for the other parties. Even drunken Charles was far more of a selling point than this clown.

Anonymous said...

Charles was a MUCH better better selling point. They liked him. They trusted him to do his best. They respected him taking a difficult & principled position on Iraq.