Saturday, November 15, 2008

When Fiction Poses as Journalism

Isabelle Oakeshott has a STORY in the Sunday Times tomorrow which seeks to pour yet more petrol on the GET GEORGE OSBORNE fire. But it is so preposterous you almost have to laugh if this is the best she can come up with. She asserts that Tory activists want rid of George Osborne. The only actual quote she comes up with is this...
Activists contributing to party websites have labelled his interventions on Gordon Brown’s economic policy as ill-judged. Some on the ConservativeHome website voiced fears that he could cost the party the next election.

“It is extremely hard to find anyone in the City who now takes him seriously,” said Mark Hudson, one contributor.
There's only one problem with that. Mark Hudson left the Conservative Party two years ago and is now a member of UKIP. All he ever does on ConHome is leave anti-Tory comments. Ok, you might say, she's just picked one out of dozens and was unlucky. Nope. HERE's one thread on the subject and HERE's a later one. Around 90% of the comments support Osborne. I couldn't find one which expressed the fear that he "could cost the party the next election", although I admit I only skim-read them.

She then makes another assertion...
Some Tory MPs have accused David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, of stirring up the row for his own ends. But Davis has privately made it clear that he has no interest in Osborne’s job, pointing out that his views on tax cutting are at odds with the party leadership.
Note the lack of any quotes to back up the DD allegation - not even anonymous ones. But the two sentences rather conflict with each other, don't they? Why would DD stir up the row for his own ends if he had no interest in Osborne's job? Buggered if I know.

This is not really journalism, is it? Some might describe it as fiction.

And Melissa Kite is throwing in her twopennyworth HERE in the Sunday Telegraph. She reports that the fact that Oliver Letwin is drawing up new plans to cut waste and bureaucracy indicates that George Osborne is being "sidelined".
The fact that Mr Letwin, Mr Osborne's predecessor as shadow chancellor, has been charged with drawing up the spending cuts will fuel the impression that Mr Osborne is being sidelined as the party's ratings on the economy falter.

She explains that Oliver Letwin is the Head of the Conservative Research Department, so you would think that it is his job to come up with new policies like this, wouldn't you? Not in the world of political journalism, apparently, where everything is viewed as a snub, a sleight or a plot.

One wonders what other gems await us in the papers tomorrow. I'll be sure and let you know.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Panic not. It is the job of political pundits to play a game of 'The Weakest Link'. If they weren't picking on George Osborne, then some other poor sap would have to be in the frame..

By all means get Osborne to 'up his game', but don't imagine it will be the end of such stories - it will just mean they will move along to the next 'victim', possibly on a 'Buggins' Turn basis.

Anonymous said...

Iain, remember for political hacks, "The Trend is Your Friend"...

Swing behind the 'Bash the Tories' campaign, when their poll numbers look to be on the wane, and suddenly you are 'influential pundit' Isabelle or 'marvellously prescient' Melissa..

Come along now, Mr Dale, I am sure that you would not be above such jolly japes yourself, were it not for your wisdom, intelligence and all-round integrity.. ;-)

Anonymous said...

"Humpty Dumpty is sitting on the wall.. Humpty Dumpty is going to have a great fall...

I just know he is, because I'm ever so clever..

Didn't I just tell you, all the King's Horses and all the King's Men wouldn't be able to rescue poor Humpty from my ability to predict his downfall, and even, dare I say it, my role in helping bring it about ? " *







* Any resemblance or similarity to Michael Crick entirely coincidental..

Paul Pinfield said...

Iain, totally off topic, but it looks like Rudy is getting in early for 2012...

http://joinrudy2012.com/

David said...

good to see Tim Montgomerie doing well. True, he's once again helping to undermine the party, but his career goes from strength to strength. Yay! Go Tim! Who cares about the Conservative Party when it can all be you!

Alex said...

I'm with you Iain.

The irritating thing is with The Times, their political moderator(s) is/are a Labour party supporter(s), so if he/she doesn't like a comment posted, it doesn't get published.

Anyone else noticed that they can't get their comments published?

Chris Paul said...

So weak. Protest too much.

The journalism may be a bit thin. But then these traits of no quotes, no sources, irrelevancies and non sequitors are par for the course here at your blog and indeed in your own Telegraph op eds.

Which makes this post a bit rich.

Martin J said...

Talking of fiction, am I the only person to have come across this spoof picture bog Zoooommm

Some of the images on it had me roaring with laughter.

Martin Day said...

Some interesting Gordon Brown quotes on the currency in Hansard about currency when he was shadow chancellour:

§ Mr. Brown The difference between the parties has become clear during the debate. The Chancellor cannot even tell us—nor could the Prime Minister—whether they support floating or managed exchange rates. Our policy is for managed exchange rates. What are the policies of the Government? What has happened to zero inflation? What has happened to the boast that Britain was a miracle country, envied by Germany? What has happened to the boast that we would get inflation in Britain below German levels and keep it there? What has happened to the boast mentioned by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) this afternoon —that we would have a currency superior to that of Germany?http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1992/sep/24/economic-policy#S6CV0212P0-00590
A bit further down: All those monetary targets—the right hon. Gentleman is nodding his head. If he is targeting the exchange rate as a means of deciding interest rates, how does he assess it? Is he now shadowing the deutschmark again? How? If he says that he has an exchange rate target, he must explain what he is doing. That is another question that he will have to answer if the House is to be satisfied. Further down again: Our case is still that the weak currency which arises from a weak economy can be dealt with only by measures taken here in Britain to deal with the fundamental weakness of that economy. Fourthly, the Government have devalued the currency —something they said they would never do—and, even afterwards, interest rates are 9 per cent. It is a humiliation 95 made likely by the weakness of the currency which is itself the product of the weakness of the economy and that is the product of the weakness of this Government.http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1992/sep/24/economic-policy#S6CV0212P0-00590

Iain Dale said...

Chris, stick to what you know, which in your case is not very much.

My Telegraph columns are opinion pieces. Opinion pieces generally do not carry quotes.

ChrisD said...

Iain, I have been following ConHom today and you are correct.

I am really gobsmacked at this apparent attempt at journalism. Its lazy at best, but at worse, its down right untrue!

Had the journalist done her job properly, she would have recognised that this poster makes the same comments on a boring regular basis what ever the political weather.

But, it seems that this journalist had already decided on her story, which appears to be to follow the bandwagon on slagging off Osborne. And she has just skimmed today's threads on Conhom to find a suitable comment to fit in with it.

The much bigger story for the political lobby today is three fold.

Osborne really came out fighting, the media fell into the trap of reporting what has been a *convention* by governing parties to accuse the Opposition of talking down Sterling, rather than any REAL unspoken convention which actually existed!
And on the final point, Isabelle Oakeshott really embarrassed herself, any half ar*sed attempt to check out ConHom today would have revealed that the grassroots are rallying around Osborne.
Especially as the BBC etc tried to undermine his attempt to report on the worrying decline in Sterling.

That has been a very worrying development, often discussed on the Blogsphere recently. And the most common question has been the silence of the media on the subject?

judith said...

Isn't it strange how everyone has forgotten what Alistair Darling - the ACTUAL Chancellor - said in his holiday interview, which as I recall was essentially:

'we're doomed, I tell ye, we're all doooooomed!'

Did Brown or his media pets accuse him of talking down Sterling? Hmmmm....

beaubodor said...

Martin J at 12.10

re Zoooommm

what a similarity between

this image posted by Zooomm on 10th November

and my post, dated 7th July

A few words different and my tag seems to have been crudely deleted from the zooommm post....

It's not your site is it?

Ross said...

Quoting blog comments to illustrate grassroots unrest!

Next week she might start quoting Chris Paul's quotes on this site to demonstrate that the Tory grassroots think that Gordon Brown is doing a magnificent job.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Alex:
"Anyone else noticed that they can't get their comments published?"

You are not alone Alex.

I have more or less given up leaving comments at The Times because they don't get through. Some organisations have blockers for your personal address, but I don't know on what basis The Times blocks comments. It certainly looks as if they follow the BBC on this, which is to allow the BBC line and only publish dissent if the poster sounds like a loony.

As for the editorial stance generally,insiders tend to confirm the worst, which is that there is a "line", (particularly bad at the Daily Mail, I was told by one hackette)and if you want to keep your job, you stick to it. At the moment, the general line seems to be "get George".

Anonymous said...

Another attempt to slam Osborne, for being a "Toff".

Amazing reverse snobbery, which seems to be acceptable in some quarters.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1086132/SUZANNE-MOORE-A-toff-like-George-Osborne-use-cupboards-bare.html

Fitaloon said...

I posted a comment on the Times website against this story very soon after it was put up questioning her claims especially that ConHome was a "Party" website and guess what all there is is comments supporting her view. Why do reputable papers do this?

Johnny Norfolk said...

No wonder sales of newspapers are falling. Can you imagine the Times running something like this a few years ago. Its infantile.

Our newspapers are going down the pan. I would love to know what Max Hastings ( the last great editor) thinks of The Daily Telegraph today, as that is on the decline as well.

captain skint said...

Are they students? I've heard that these days kids just google their essays - lucky blighters. Hardly academic or journalism.

Go easy on Chris Paul please Iain - he really cheers me up. Reminds me of a Mr Elsby from that historic town of Stoke.

Anonymous said...

The hysterical reaction from Brown and his cheerleaders over at the Guardian indicates two things to me.

1. The dramatic decline in sterling is something that is very sensitive to Labour. The vulnerable bits.
2. If the Shadow Chancellor does not have the right to point out poor Gvnmt. policy then what is the role for.

The Tories will have thought through the consequences of this statement and will have a plan for political cover. The more shrill labour become the more the tories can know they have hit home. Osborne is safe no matter what and has just scored a goal albeit an open one.

strapworld said...

Iain,

He is the wrong man in the wrong job.

Cameron should be saying what he is saying, as it changes what he announced at your conference!

Or, is Cameron in the pocket of Osborne as Blair was with Brown?

I made the comment, on Conservative Home, that Osborne should be removed for at least one reason and that, as I have said on your blog, is his disloyalty to colleagues.

Once a backstabber forever a backstabber. Backstabbers cause disunity and division. Osborne did the party an injustice when talking so stupidly to Mandleson.

He cannot be forgiven for that.

No common sense! No class!

John Moss said...

Iain,

I would also cite the comments on Nick Robinson's blog in support of Osborne's comments.

I would guess these are 95% supportive, probably because the Draper Trolls leave that one alone assuming it is mainly pro-Labour anyway.

I would link it, but I'm rubbish at stuff like that!

fox in sox said...

Finally the Tories are coming to a sensible position. Gordon has been spending like a drunken sailor, and we are now sufferring the hangover. The solution is not to start drinking again!

Tax cuts now may be nessecary to minimise collateral damage, but to do this without a plan to pay the debts is irresponsible. We may have low inflation for a year but have then high interest rates and high inflation.

Osbourne has not talked down the pound, the markets have already spoken, and it looks as if it will fall much further if the debts are not repaid.

Anonymous said...

A warm supportive statement from Dave would solve the problem.Why the pregnant silence?

Mitch said...

It would seem that the labour party and its media whores are desperate to unseat Osborne.I would say that they are terrified of him and Mandelson was only brought back to take him down whatever the cost hence the seat in the Lords which makes him very safe.
If this plan worked then Snotty would be free to borrow like a loon without any credible opposition.

Looks like it failed though.

Ps you can quote me if you want.

Andy D said...

Osbourne just did an excellent job to the Andy Marr show. Clear, sensible, and cut to the heart of the failings of Labour. Good job George...

Anonymous said...

The problem seems to be as follows..

If the BBC describe George Osborne as having 'Green Hair', then it won't cause too much trouble, since everyone can see it is not true.

If the Torygraph say Osborne has 'Blue Hair' then it will be ignored as the evidence of one's mince pies contradicts this.

If the Sunday Times say Osborne has 'Red Hair', it won't rock the boat, as people won't pick up the paper and the story will not gain any legs...

But if the Torygraph and Times say he is in trouble [without evidence] and the BBC then describe him [as they did on last night's midnight news] as, shock, 'beleaguered'...

Well, if people disbelieve this just a teensy bit less than the 'He has green hair story', then the problem is that credibility for the story has been gained in the minds of the public. Perhaps Mr Dale you need to focus less on 'shooting the messenger. And more on why people find some inaccurate stories more believable than the truth ?

Anonymous said...

But what are the sources of these stories ? Perhaps they are coming from within the Tory party who want to do a bit of 'kite-flying' [or even 'Melissa-Kite-Flying' ?] about what to do as a contingency in the worst case scenario of Mr Osborne 'falling under the Clapham omnibus'?

We hear this morning that he takes lessons on how to 'lose' his upper class accent. I have no idea whether this is true, or whether it is just a bit of gentle voice coaching, but the problem is that punters will think "Well, that is the sort of thing he would do.."

Without some supportive noises from Cameron, there's a danger that he could be toast...

trevorsden said...

It comes to something when the Shadow Chancellor is slated for stating the bleedin' obvious.

Brown puts the nation into a position where the pound could be toast and we are supposed to keep quiet?

The Telegraph in particular but equally the juvenile hacks from The Spectator are just plain pathetic.

But Osborne has yet again done a great service - he has pointed out the elephant in the room.

John Pickworth said...

Agreed, George Osborne was flawless on Marr.

No doubt the Labour spinsters are currently photoshopping some Marr/Osborne orgy photos as we speak for tomorrow's Daily Mirror.

By the way George, if you're looking in... Don't forget to give the Proles some real world back story about the crippled Pound. The petrol/dollar comment this morning was good but don't forget to tell the public about the impoverished British pensioners struggling abroad or that Tara and Wayne will be paying much more for their Sangria in Torremolinos next year.

By the way, concerning the 'sources' for the Osborne stories; Andrew Neil on Boulton's Sky show just said that most of the briefing against Osborne had been coming direct from Washington. Ermmm, not from the residents of course but from those at then G20 dinner and dance - wink wink.

Rohan said...

This smacks of media manipulation by Nu Labour. Classic stuff. Osbourne makes a perfectly acceptable set of remarks about the perilous state of the pound - belatedly it must be said. There is no answer to his arguments. The pound is stuffed. So Labour distracts attention with a red herring. "Breach of convention. Gordon digging us out doesn't need this sort of distracting etc. etc." All utter balls. Brown is largely responsible for the mess, but Joe Public has a short memory.

Labour line plays well with the electorate because a) they're worried b) Brown is "doing something" c) Tories look like pack of playboy carpers. Plus Cameron foolishly during the bank collapse promised bipartisan support. Looks inconsistent. Polls head south.

Now for part B. Weaken a key Cameron lieutenant. OK, we're not going to force him out, but we can damage him so that he is moved. OR if we go for a spring election he is still in post and lacks creditability. It will be the playboys v's the people's champions. The latter of course being experienced team members of Rescue International etc. Again king size balls but goes down well with Joe Public...

Of course I might be being a tad cynical......

Anonymous said...

The media have gone mad this weekend, there is definitely something going on. Elements of the News International Group in particular seem to have it in for the Tories in general and George Osborne in particular. I've been watching Sky this morning and they've been trotting out the Labour line as if it were indisputable fact, they've also taken the Times poll as a sign that the Tories are done for because they only have a lead of 5% and haven't even mentioned the Independent poll (even if the Times poll is the one they paid for they should at least look at the Independent poll).

Iain you have to pay a visit to your friends at Sky and hold them to account.

Anonymous said...

Mandy is just 'playing with him' as a cat plays with a mouse..

If Mandy wanted to destroy him, his career would already be over...

Blue Eyes said...

All Osborne did was speak the blinding truth. If that is enough to be denounced by the media and government then we are in deeper than we thought.

Jabba the Cat said...

Jabba would suggest that the Boy George is tolerated by the Tory rank and file, along with Call Me Dave, strictly for the time being whilst still harbouring a deep suspicion that the current front bench contains a crop of very shallow individuals who potentially lack the gravitas and will power to deal with the real problems facing the country and handling deftly the poison chalice that will be inherited by the Tories at the next election.

The only reason that rumblings are mostly subterranean stems from the recognition that the Labour front bench under Jonah, have an even greater shallowness that is measurable in mere molecules, and consequently Labour are unlikely to regain the upper hand by the time of the next election. Therefore the Tory leadership double act is solely tolerated as that of the lesser of two evils and wholly dissimilar to the position of Mrs Thatcher who stood head and shoulders above the Labour opponents at the time.

Andrew Cooper said...

Quite right - hands of George Osborne! He's doing a fantastic job. Many of us want to hear and see a lot more of him. He really sums up the image of the Conservative Party that we want see portrayed.

Can't wait until we get to hear his new 'dumbed down' accent - should be hilarious!

Anonymous said...

I recall reading somewhere a few months ago, that the political media were looking for a change of focus from the "Brown disaster" stories. Obviously they have decided to create a "Osborne disaster" story.

Osborne is the story now and the press will not rest until they get his scalp.

It scares me the power the press has over us....

norman said...

Chris Paul:

You mean 'so what' as Balls really said?

norman said...

I agree in all these the real chancellor Darling is reduced to scribbling pieces to newspapers supporting his boss.

Scots who know him say that it is ahuge jump for a local lwyer in Edinburgh who was an obsecure local councillor to become chancellor. They assure it is not through merit.

There are no Scots besides Menges with whom Brown used to fly to Edinbugh back home after parliament.

Osborne should keep on hammering
Labour and Cameron should choose 3-4 eye-catching phrases which depicts how Labour let this country down. He should repeat these 3-4 whenver he is interviewed. Nothin better than visibility.

Anonymous said...

Of course, the other alternative would be to offer a substitute 'weakest link' as a 'sacrificial lamb'. You know, the way they do with students / fat blokes / ugly women on Anne Robinson's highbrow telly programme...

What about Paul Murphy ?? He is creating a flap as Welsh Secretary over 'devolved powers' or some such.

He could be sacrificed only to rise again as speaker, and divert attention from Osborne momentarily - the smokescreen would only last a few weeks, but then Christmas recess would kick in and people's minds would be elsewhere...

tykejohnno said...

Iain,when are you and other conservatives going to challenge the anti tory news media,inwhich I would say is now 90% backing brown and labour,TV news and news papers.I have watched sky news lately and they are blatanly backing brown and labour,plus they anti tory stories,come on Iain ,you go on sky news,you must challenge they polital editors.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Pickworth. You did it again. You are too witty. Sod Tara and Wayne, I have a regular date in Switzerland and next time I get there I shall just about be able to shell out for one plate of rosti, two forks and a novelty sized Toblerone. It's not funny and I would quite like to see Brown's nadgers hanging from my Christmas Tree, singed by the fairy lights.

Osborne has stated the bloody obvious and Brown is just clutching at Straws. If this was Guido or the Devil, I would use the language of the hoi-polloi.

jon dee said...

Perhaps wrong thread but worth a look
at- The New York Times-
"World Leaders Vow Joint Push to Aid Economy".

The quotes are quite revealing.
publish date 15/11/08.

Anonymous said...

Just seen Osborne onAndrew Marr. A great performance. a little bit sticky over his future role but his comments about telling the truth are wounding to Brown. Also laughed when Marr's selective interpretation of opinion polls was revealed.

The Xmas tax bribe is the last throw... said...

Read this

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/business/worldbusiness/16summit.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

NYT report on the G20 farce and all the big players get a mention except Bi-polar Brown.....