Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Issues Rather Than Personalities?

It is interesting that the BBC politics team is obsessed by leadership problems at the moment - whether Conservative or Liberal Democrat. I look forward to them giving due prominence to a hacked off Labour Party wannabe candidate who thinks Gordon Brown is rubbish. There must be one out there somewhere if they look hard enough.

Yesterday's Conservative policy announcement on school discipline disappeared behind wall to wall coverage of criticism by someone most people in the Conservative Party have never heard of. It's often said that politicians are obsessed with personalities rather than issues. That may or may not be so, but it is certainly the case with much of our media.

Have you noticed that whenever there is a 'Tories in trouble' story, the same old faces are wheeled out - Edward Leigh, Stuart Wheeler, Lord Saatchi etc. I'd love to know what relevance any of them have to today's Conservative Party. It just doesn't merit front page headlines when some 'has been' or 'never was' criticises the party leadership.

Philip Cowley has shown that Gordon Brown has suffered more backbench rebellions in his first month as PM than any of his recent predecessors.
When compared to other post-war Prime Ministers, it is noticeable how many rebellions Brown suffered in his first month, how large they were, how quickly they occurred, and how many MPs they involved. In all of these four areas, the Brown Government has already set post-war records for backbench dissent. This shortbriefing paper (pdf, 45k) gives the scores on the doors.

Has this been reported anywhere by the print or broadcast media? No. I don't say this to accuse the media of any kind of bias - merely to point out that they've been so taken in by Brown's whirlwind first month that maybe they are following the wrong agenda.


Anonymous said...

Let alone "most people in the Conservative Party", I don't think anyone outside the Tory Party would ever have heard of him, and not many would be incredibly familiar with the likes of Lord Kalm or Lord Saatchi.

Gavin said...

Gordon Brown's "bounce" in the polls is probably more than just the fact he's a new PM; he has actually been here in the UK over the last month, commenting (if not acting) on issues which are of immediate concern to us. Where has Cameron been? Jetting around in stupid irrelevant far-off tin-pot places which the electorate here doesn't give a monkey's chuff about. Cameron needs to get his ass back here pronto and start making noises which people can relate to.

Ted Foan said...

When an unknown 32-year old accountant who is a local Conservative councillor has the audacity to ask David Cameron to make him a peer you have to question his (Miraj's that is) understanding of politics at a national level. Or there is something else going on?

Tapestry said...

Iain you're such a gentle soul.

The media are a bunch of lying bastards, end of story.

The fact is that even with all media guns trained on Cameron for two weeks solid, they've hardly landed a blow on him. It has helped him to build his authority.

Brown's ruling through the media and ignoring his own party and supporters. Blair got away with it but with Brown fronting it all, news management looks so contrived.

The whole system is clunking along frantically trying to help Gordon appear statesmanlike. But he can't act the role.

It's time a little boy said,'but the Prime MInister has no clothes.' The Brown Bounce is non-existent, as any detailed analysis demonstrates. It's all media hot air...propaganda......lies.

And Cameron's riding it all just fine.

Newmania said...

Now that is what makes me come back to this gaff Iain . The BBC have assumed the position before Brown to the extent that it is pornographic.
We keep saying it but why not ein fur die strasse. The BBC are fighting for their lives and they will do anything to stop the Conservative Party regaining power.

One of your best

bebopper said...

Well done Tapestry. Did you write the song: Reasons to be Cheerful?
It's good to read you after getting a couple of replies from a Today Programme flak-catcher. I imagine about sixty-four of them all in one room, laboriously typing: "Thank you for getting in touch with us. We are always pleased to receive..."
There must be more flak-catchers than broadcasters in the BBC
How else can they cope with the rage and howls of execration bombarding them for twenty-four hours a day?

chatterbox said...

Good article Iain, but more interesting is the fact that you highlight these rebellions because the media certainly have not!
In fact only two sketch writers have informed us of the resumption of the usual sneaky underhand Labour behaviour in Parliament.
But what is to be done?
With the Beeb they have a duty to be impartial and report the news not a particular agenda or narrative to suit an event or mood among journalists.
The rest are answerable to their employers first and foremost and that is why people expect balance and not an inherent bias at the Beeb.
They like all the others these days now report their interpretation or opinion of events rather than facts as they don't trust us to come to the same conclusion by ourselves never mind that we might form an other.
We had a lot of discussion about the behaviour of the political Lobby and the fact that they did not challenge Blair enough, instead becoming to cosy with the establishment to protect a line of communication or a source.
The amount of stuff that has been ignored and not reported which would undermine the Brown is change and the style of government will be too is pretty shocking.
How long do you reckon this bridge building exercise with Brown and the Lobby will go on?

Newmania said...

It's time a little boy said,'but the Prime MInister has no clothes.'

He might point giggling to the pendulous waste that continues in the tax credit fiasco the PM`s elegant flagship . This years depressing figures are £6.6 billion overpaid £3.9 billion still to be recovered and £700,000,000 already written off. 2000,000 families a year are affected by overpayment and the government are chasing punters for £1.5 billion. The cost of running the system has risen to £587,000,000 ie by 40% . What happened to Prudence then ?

Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The cost is up, you shoved it through
Its horrible and so are you
Dear Prudence won't you come out to play

And , annuver fing on the continuity Brown ;Spin .The railways white paper is a farrago of virtual lies from start to finish. Just a couple of presentational niceties. They say 150 stations to be upgraded. The truth is 2350 that need it to wait until 2014. Train reliability to be increased to 92.6 %. This is only the final destination and will be met by adding minutes to the final journey time . There is no change whatsoever to the oppressive climate of casual mendacity and there was never likely to be.


Save us ,nice Mr.Cameron ,please.

Sea Shanty Irish said...

Just checked out the "Rebellions" pdf. Interesting propaganda and factually accurate I'm sure, but not all that persuasive (esp. to regular observers) given the fact that the dissents are actually a continuation of the pattern set in the final years of the Blair administration. In other words, not a new pattern, but the same old same old. But at least yer boyos are trying!

ONE THING that strikes me re "personalities" is that methinks David Cameron is making a mistake by personalizing the opposition to his own leadership. IF I remember correctly, during 1994-97 Tony Blair & Co wacked furiously at the Old Labour policies that were so detrimental to the party's electoral viability. BUT they refrained from going after major left figures IN PUBLIC. Of course there was plenty of off-the-record briefing & trashing. BUT in public they kept the battle on the field of issue rather than personalities.

May have this somewhat wrong, but that's they way I remember it, and I suspect that's the way it came across at the time.

ALSO think it just a bit rich for yez to complain that, “Yesterday's Conservative policy announcement on school discipline disappeared behind wall to wall coverage of criticism by someone most people in the Conservative Party have never heard of.” BECAUSE wasn’t it DAVID CAMERON who raised “Lord” Miraj’s profile with his own counter-attack, turning him from a nobody into a somebody . . . if not exactly a household word?

As for the (actual) Lords Kalm & Saatchi, well, that's the backwash o' Thatcherism for yez - must take the rough with the smooth!

FINALLY, Iain, given yer recent trip to RWANDA am very interested to learn yer views on DARFUR, esp. the new UN Plan.

Ted Foan said...

Well what a lot of unintelligible tosh this "Sea Shanty Irish" person spouts!

Is this Chris Paul reincarnate?

Newmania said...

On Sea Shanty -. At a wedding where the friendless Groom was reduced to his own father for a best man I heard a speech of similarly contrived ‘jollity`.He thought he was funny too it was tragic

Man in a Shed said...

Iain - the Media like the BBC are not "following the wrong agenda" - they are following their own agenda of supporting the left wing government of the UK - due to their inbuilt left wing bias.

Apart from privatising the BBC (preferred option) we could split it. Have the Guardian readers run one side and employ Telegraph readers for the other ( this would lead to large scale redundancies for the Guardianistas - but if they read the job pages of their preferred newspapers they'll see there's lots of Socialist pork barrel jobs going for £70k+ so they'll be OK ).

Both could be given the remit of impartiality - but I think you'd find the balance was nether the less different.

Dr.Doom said...

But surely you liked George Galloway and Frank Field and Clare Short or Diane Abbott running the rule over Tony Blairs excellent stewardship?
It's looking very bad for the Tories, Iain and what's more, If Gordon goes for a May election, the BNP get wasted in every inner City heartland.

Labour only had to suffer the 20th Century and a previous 18 years in the wilderness during the 80's period before being allowed back in.

See you in the 22nd Century and good luck to all cnadidates not yet born.
Fat chance for William Hague.


simon said...

"Has this been reported anywhere in the media?"

The link is to an article in the Times, which kind of answers your question. An equally fair - or unfair - question might be: "Why aren't right-wing bloggers uncovering htese stories instead of leaving it to the press, then tamely regurgitating their work".

Give over with this "the media's all against us" nonsense.

Sea Shanty Irish said...

Note that comments above that are denegrating the messanger as opposed to refuting the message, namely:

--that the "Brown rebellions" analysis can be questioned as comparing apples to oranges;

--that TB & Co focused on issues instead of personalities 1994-97 (am not talking about post-'97)

--that DC is ill-advised to focus is intra-party critique on personalities instead of issues

--that DC stepped on his own message by making "Lord" Miraj" headline news;

--that having built up the likes of Saatchi & Kalm over many years, the Tory leadership is reaping their whirlwind . . .

...all go to show the intellectual and presentational confusion that will likely prove VERY detremental to the Conservative Party at the next general election.

Still waiting for some light from yez as opposed to heat! Yer failure so far - now that really IS a joke . . .

Sir-C4' said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Yendley said...

There is an unedifying little pantomime of Conservatives now that they have put their heads over the political parapet after ten years, and have ventured out onto open ground. They have got the courage to admit that they are Tories but sneak away from it with the “But I’m not like him” ploy: by make disparaging remarks about either a contemporary Conservative politician who is an easy target for caricature or a prominent Conservative figure from the past. With appalling unfairness, the most popular Aunt Sally is John Major

What is incredible about these trite minds is that they do not realise that the John Major whom they are using as their Guy, is the effigy created by the BBC in the most impressive media campaign of political subversion in British history.

If only right wing research was possible at British universities, a full investigation of the techniques used by the state broadcaster then would prove very illuminating. The government let that go, not only because of the party indiscipline that we are seeing again now, but also because of its complacency about the power of the media.

If Conservatives can give up the sport of opposing each other and their own tradition, they should keep a close eye on the wiles of the BBC and keep a detailed record in Internet blogs to be used later in evidence.