Monday, May 28, 2012

The Liberal Democrats' relations with Rupert Murdoch

Sunday's Observer had an article purporting to show that the Liberal Democrats had been "sucked deeper into the controversy over News Corp's planned takeover of BSkyB".

My first reaction was that I wan not aware we were involved in the controversy in the first place, so how could we been sucked in deeper? And Liberal Democrat Voice hurried to assure us that it was "desperately thin stuff".

Certainly, the article failed to show that the two Lib Dem cabinet ministers it mentions - Vince Cable and Danny Alexander - had behaved with anything other than the utmost propriety over BSkyB. Nevertheless, the article does have a number of points of interest to party members.

For instance, the emails submitted to the Leveson Inquiry by Frederic Michel (Murdoch's lobbyist) show that he attended what sounds very like a fundraising event for Nick  Clegg's Lib Dem leadership campaign that we held while Menzies Campbell was still leader.

And those same emails show, says the Observer, that:
Tim Colbourne, a Clegg aide, advised the News Corp lobbyist that he should try to get Labour to support the bid as this would convince Cable to back it.
Quite why someone working for Nick Clegg thought it part of his role to advise News Corp on its tactics for winning over Vince Cable and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is nowhere explained.

Michel was doing his job as a lobbyist, but it hard not to contrast the ease of access that such lobbyists have to government circles with the growing demands made of average citizens, Liberal Democrat members included, before they can have any access to them.

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