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Media still pandering to the Cameron-Coulson line

Posted on 6 January 2011 | 10:01am

Longer than usual blog today, most of it not written by me. You’ll have to wait a bit for the point, but with thanks to the Labour Party’s media monitoring department, I want to begin with an account of what appeared on the main news programmes this morning.

Today Programme

1. The US enquiry into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has blamed cost cutting & management failures by BP & other companies & warns that similar disaster cld happen in the future.

2. Concerns about how Britain wld respond to a major oil spill in the North Sea have been raised by a rpt by MPs

3. The chief executive of NI water Laurence McKenzie has confirmed he is standing down

4. New research has suggested that average pay rises will be below the level of inflation

5. An FOI request by Today has shown that a British businessman has been supplying a prison in Arizona with three drugs used in executions by lethal injection

6. New figures show that one in ten secondary schools in England has become an Academy

7. Shelter says there has been a sharp rise in the number of people using credit cards to pay their mortgage or rent

8. England’s cricketers are in a commanding postn on the fourth day of the final Ashes test in Sydney


1. The flu outbreak – have children been put at risk unnecessarily?

2. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was a result of systemic management failures & cld happen again according to a rpt from US presidential panel

3. It’s been confirmed the chief exec of NI water has resigned after thousands of homes were left without water over Xmas

4. Beckham cld be just days away from joining Tottenham Hotspur

5. Eastenders star Samantha Womack has quit the programme

6. Number of people resorting to using a credit card to pay their mortgage or rent has soared by 50% in a yr


1. A damning rpt in to the BP oil spill – a presidential commission blames cost cutting & bad management

2. Flu fears, new figures to reveal the extent of the outbreak amid warnings some doctors are running out of vaccine

3. The chief exec of NI Water has resigned

4. It’s claimed nearly 29,000 prison inmates including 6,000 who are serving sentences for violence will be given the right to vote under govt plans

5. Thunder storms are hampering relief efforts in the flooded areas of North East Australia

6. Michael Jackson’s bodyguard has described the scene of the singer’s death to an LA court

7. EM is insisting his party is not solely to blame for the country’s current debt burden following it’s time in govt

8. A doctor who warned parents the MMR job cld cause autism has been accused of fraud

9. The tribunal for three Pakistani cricketers accused of spot fixing is due to begin today

10. New research suggests millions of people are having to use a credit card to keep up with their rent or mortgage repayments

11. Passengers onboard a Turkish Airlines flight have overpowered a wld be hijacker as the plane landed at Istanbul

12. A man who almost became a victim of car crime had a lucky escape when a real life superhero stepped in to help

You can see how much easier it is to read the news than see and/or listen to it. I was out on the bike as it happens.

But, if I may revert to one of the themes I pursued during the election … if Labour were the Tories, and the Tories Labour, I think there might have been some change to the running order.

Yesterday it emerged that the News of the World news editor had been suspended over phone-hacking allegations. This would appear to blow a significant hole in News Corp’s continued claims that the phone-hacking was all the work of a lone rogue reporter and a private detective. According to the Financial Times ‘Downing Street said Andy Coulson had nothing further to say on the matter.’

Mr Coulson is the PM’s director of comms. As the broadcast media happily goes along with this ‘nothing more to say’ approach, and decides to say next to nothing itself, I cannot resist allowing myself a little indulgence, and wondering what our frank and fearless lobby would have done had this been a Labour director of comms such as, oh I don’t know, someone.

Second observation – Ed Miliband has an interesting piece in The Times today, continuing the debate over recent economic history. It takes the Tories to task for the deceits they have been peddling about the reasons for the cuts and reforms they are making. With the economy always central to political debate, and normal politics resuming after the holiday period, it is an important part of that debate.

When he was leader of the Opposition, David Cameron had little trouble getting broadcasters interested in lines and arguments far less important or interesting than the one in the Times. Yet you will see from the running order above that for the Beeb and ITV, it was of no interest, and for Sky it came in sixth.

All Labour can do in these circumstances is keep going with the argument, and eventually it will be heard. For those who don’t get The Times, here is the media monitoring account of Ed’s article.

‘Deceit about the past endangers our future’ (Ti op-ed) – Ed Miliband says the Tories’ diagnosis of what caused the deficit is wrong – and their cure is reckless too. A bigger debate has begun over whether the govt’s approach is the right way to support jobs & get back to strong growth. Cameron & Osborne are making the wrong judgments about our economy. In their politically motivated desire to propagate a myth about the last Labour Government, they are ignoring the real lessons of the global financial crisis. Miliband says the great deceit designed to damage Labour has led to profoundly misguided & dangerous economic decns that will cause deep damage to Britain’s future. The deceit is that the deficit was caused by chronic overspending rather than a global financial crisis that resulted in recession & a calamitous collapse in tax revenues. Their deceit seeks to rewrite history, airbrushing out the fact that Britain’s debt at the outset of this crisis was the second-lowest in the G7; lower than it was under the Tories in 1997. And it forgets that neither of the two parties now in government called for lower spending at the time. It is this deceit about the past that leads Cameron & Osborne to make the wrong judgments now. The real debate is not about whether or not to cut the deficit. Where we differ is how that is best done in the world as we find it, not as we would like it to be. Labour recognise that no other developed country is taking such an extreme approach. That is why we say Osborne is going too far & too fast on the deficit. This is not a political slogan, it is our economic judgment. Osborne’s failure to have any credible growth strategy means that we will not address the real lesson of the crisis: that we were too reliant on financial services and did not have a broad enough industrial base. His approach risks prolonged unemployment, wasting the talents of future generations, while a strategy based on VAT risks stoking inflation, especially when oil prices are high. For all the political noise, these differences of judgment are at the heart of the real choice Britain faces. It is not true we oppose every cut. Labour is clear that spending is not the answer to every problem. But neither is it true that Labour is to blame for the deficit or that the deficit-reduction programme being pursued by this Government is necessary and fair. Because this Conservative-led Government is trying to deceive people about the past, it is making the wrong judgments about the future. By misleading, Cameron & Osborne are leading our country in the wrong direction.

  • Bransby
  • Chris Murphy

    To be fair to Today, they did an interview on it and were quite rigorous but I take the point – if this had been you, they would have been like dogs with a bone. I am glad to see Ed Miliband being a bit livelier and more active. The government has been getting off with too much.

  • Darren MacKay

    They shoud also have made more of the story of the civil servant wanting money out of the door. And that could have been anti government

  • Laura Payne

    As Obama discovered the only way to truly get your message across is to by-pass the traditional media and hit the road. Time for Ed Miliband, backed by the senior labour figureheads, to get on their bike (Tebbit style?) and bash the streets. Take his vision of the future to the local labour parties and show them how to disseminate his message…..if he has one of course??? Again as Obama very successfully found, is it time for Miliband to write a book and not just bother with the odd Times column?

  • Watoop

    I’m finding the continuing media coverage of the Camilla / Prince Charles incident to be similarly skewed and out of touch with what most people seem to be thinking. To a man and woman, everyone I know thinks that incident was either a useful wake up call to the anger that people are feeling about Government policy and / or a fairly mild demonstration of resentment to the privileged in this country who seem to be immune to the pain that most people are feeling.
    Instead we are clearly supposed to be “horrified” that such an incident happened and clutch our children more tightly to us as the foundations of our beloved institutions crumble.
    Expect the same sort of sycophantic media consensus in next year’s royal wedding.I’m convinced a significant part of the population think the whole ethos of a taxpayer-funded royal family in 2011 is an outdated and morally unsustainable situation.

  • Romichaplin

    I think that I may like to collect all my news in bullet points, as collated by Labours media monitoring service. It suits the Conservatives to keep the News of the world/Andy Coulson story as just irritating background noise. Ed really needs to find his voice and gain some ground with the British public as his profile is still very low.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Brilliant article! Just what the doctor ordered. (And thanks, as I do not have access to the Times.)
    Do I detect the handwriting of Tom Baldwin (new director of strategy and comms) or Bob Roberts (Labour´s new head of press) in the piece?
    Ed Miliband is intelligent and courteous person as all Blairites who worked at Number 10 can tell. He is uncombative by nature, but has enough steel when needed as Nick Brown, Ed Balls and his brother David have noticed.
    Anyway, Mr Baldwin, who according to newspaper reports is a friend of AC, is a welcome addition to Ed´s team.
    There has been a big positive change recently when it comes to Labour´s media operations. Let it continue in this vein.
    “Tory-led government” and “wrong tax, wrong time” are good examples of this new more effective approach.
    In order to win in the future, Labour must first win the blame game of the past.
    Alastair Campbell in his recent blogs has shown the right way ahead (with my own modest contribution). It is great to see Ed Miliband now picking up the story.

  • Jacquie R

    As a media watcher, tons to say on this, but will spare you all the agony! However, one small but significant point is that News Corp somehow managed to delay the news of the suspension of Ian Edmondson from before Christmas. Although there was great excitement when the story broke yesterday and, of course, The Guardian has acres on it today, this delay has caused the wind to be slightly taken out of its sails. Very convenient for all concerned!

  • Sarah Dodds

    Fascinating stuff, as I am now one of many people who get all of their “news” from any other source apart from “The News” or “Newspapers.”
    Many years ago, a story appeared in The News of the World which referred to the professional actions of my dad. The only consolation was that it did not refer to him by name, otherwise we would have sued. The reporting of the case was so inaccurate and bizarre that it took my breath away. Anybody reading it would have been left thinking that dad was an uncaring monster, as opposed to a caring man trying to do the best work he could in his chosen field. The NOTW knew it was wrong. The family who sold the story to start with knew it was a gross distortion of events. But is was printed as “fact”. By not naming names, what they did was ensure that dad had no right of reply to counteract the story. The reason I vent this is that these liars are the same people who sit in moral judgement over our elected officials. For every truly corrupt and lying politician I bet I could find triple the number of corrupt and lying journalists.
    The last thing the media want, I am sure, is close scrutiny of themselves. So they are all complicit in burying, what could be for them, “bad” news. Probably disastrous news. But they will sure as heck make sure we all know about the expenses scandals, dodgy dossiers, and affairs etc, etc, etc.
    Let him without sin and all that.

  • Chris lancashire

    Oh absolutely hysterically funny – a spin doctor complaining about other spin doctors and spin. Get a life.

  • Richard

    Your beating up on the media all the time will win nothing. The public are tired of arguments about the past and blame game politics. The public voted you out of office and Labour voted in the timorous Moribund as leader. He set off at a snail’s pace and then slowed down.
    The quoted Times article is whistling in the dark.
    The laborious listing of news items by your media watching friends proves nothing, apart from editorial freedom.
    You are lucky the media are not concentrating on the pathetic performances of EM.

  • Sure I heard about the news corp Coulson phone bugging scandal on R4Today – and it is warming up not cooling down (as Murdcosh, Cameron, Coulson and the Police, plus most media outlets hoped).
    The failure to play this storuy is hardly surprising given the way that Rupert and associates have feet in virtually every door – not just sky/news corp…

    Thankfully the judiciary are possibly the last major establishment body that do not have a vested interest in remaining pals with Rupert…

  • Robert Jackson

    Different topic but same BBC skewing of facts:

    The PM programme last night (Wed 5th Jan) had interviews with bods from Wychavon council and Exeter council (former Tory, latter Labour) about the problems of rubbish piling up in the streets. The lady from Wychavon was so so so proud of their maintaining collections with barely a hitch – despite Pershore having the coldest recorded temperatures in England.

    What they were conveniently ignoring was that the Vale of Evesham didn’t see a single solitary snowflake for days and days after much of the country was up to its neck in the stuff.

    Wychavon saw three drops of snow of about two inches each. I shifted each one off our drive.

    Yes it was cold in Pershore. But they had hardly any snow!!

    No wonder goody goody Conservative Wychavon kept its rubbish collections going without much of a hitch.

    The BBC couldn’t have picked a more unrepresentative Tory council to interview.

  • Jacquie R

    In replying to myself, Jacquie R, it really stinks that Scotland Yard have now announced that they don’t plan to re-open the phone hacking investigation. I’m sure you will agree with me!

  • Teresa

    Blame game politics and arguments about the past, The Coalition have done a lot of that over the last 7 months, mostly lies too, people are getting tired of it.

  • Richard

    So Scotland Yard are also part of the conspiracy are they? This Murdoch chap is more powerful than we thought. Scotland Yard in collusion with Cameron and Murdoch. Yikes.
    And let us get this right they would not act when there was a Labour Home Secretary to call them to account either.
    Ever heard of “chips on shoulders”? Why do you guys not restrict yourselves to proper conspiracies, eg Roswell, Princess Diana, 9/11 with proper fruit cakes?

  • Jacquie R

    I think you should read the facts before coming with your usual nonsense – amusing though it is!

  • Pam

    For 10 years you had the press on your side. Tony Blair could have walked on water. It wasn’t until Gordon Brown became PM that things started to go downhill and then you and Mandelson ” managed” the press…..resorting to threats.

    If you carry on like this for the next 5 years you will make yourself ill. We have a “Tory-led coalition” (as you call it) now……it is their turn. They may make some mistakes but they can’t do any worse than Brown. Cameron didn’t have the fanfare Tony Blair had when he moved into Downing St. Gordon saw to that.

    But you made one vital error. You should have clung onto power no matter what. You could have offered the Libs everything they wanted – but Labour couldn’t do it…..Brown couldn’t do it…….Balls couldn’t do it…….and I’m afraid to say you may never ever get into power again…..because things will never ever be so favourable for you again. You had the Press eating out of your hands.

    So please, don’t say the Press are pandering to Cameron. You know that is not true. And please, give Coulson a rest……I’m afraid you are beginning to sound like a broken record now.


  • Janete

    ‘Cameron didn’t have the fanfare Tony Blair had when he moved into Downing St.’

    Probably reflects the fact that Tony Blair was elected by a landslide with the overwhelming support of the majority of the population. Cameron got there only because Clegg betrayed those who voted LibDem mainly to keep the Tories out.

  • Gilliebc

    Being a somewhat cynical person I believe the incident where Charles and Camilla got caught up in the student demo. was completely contrived in order to eventually persuade the unsuspecting public that a ban on demonstrations by students or any other group of “rebellious” citizens is a danger and not in societies or the public interest. Watch-out for more similar incidents!