Archive for the ‘Labour’ tag

Top 10 media lessons from Labour conference

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1. Avoid loose talk…
… in the lift. A lesson David Miliband will certainly remember next year after he – allegedly – remarked to a colleague after his speech that he wanted to avoid a ‘Heseltine moment’. Unbeknownst to Miliband an (unnamed) BBC journalist was also in the lift

2. Learn from the US – use your family
Gordon Brown wouldn’t go as far as Sarah Palin (or David Cameron) – he wouldn’t use his children as ‘props’ at the conference, but by letting his wife introduce him he seems to have convinced much of the media that he is, indeed, human (‘Gordon’s Wife-Line’)

3. Avoid loose talk…
… in the bar. Or you might let slip, as one junior No.10 official apparently did (from The Guardian), that a Cabinet minister is resigning – distracting from coverage of your leaders’ pivotal conference speech

4. Give press conferences in the bar at 3.15am
As Damien McBride and Julie Crowley did on Tuesday night – to confirm reports that Ruth Kelly was indeed going to resign. As opposed to making announcements in the official press briefing area which was, according to the FT, ‘deserted’

5. Avoid loose talk
… in the corridor. After Cherie Blair’s alleged ‘Well, that’s a lie’ comment at the 2006 conference. She was reported to have made the comment after hearing Gordon Brown claim in his speech that it had been a privilege to work with Tony Blair. It subsequently became the defining media moment of the Labour conference

6. Don’t manhandle your supporters from the conference hall
This is another lesson Labour learnt back in 2006 but watching the coverage again on YouTube (BBC clip here) reminded me how astonishing it was. But rather than releasing control there are reports that the Party instead used less overt methods of suppressing dissent (see lesson number 7)

7. Avoid loose talk…
… in unofficial Labour-supporting media. LabourHome made the mistake of releasing the findings of a ‘grassroots survey’ on the eve of the conference. The findings were not particularly shocking, but were presented as such by The Independent (see previous blog). LabourHome’s editor reportedly attracted the wrath of other party supporters. Wrath that may then have been extended to other Labour supporters (see Harry’s Place report on Martin Bright)

8. Walk more
A lesson Cameron learnt from The West Wing, Clegg adopted in Bournemouth, but Brown ignored. Walking gives the impression of dynamism, that you can’t just hang around making a speech, you have to get things done (though one must be careful not to walk too fast)

9. Say the same thing
And it might, eventually, get through. Matthew Engel picked up on this one in the FT. “So it’s official” Engel wrote, “it doesn’t matter what subject it is, you just say the same things. The template is: “In the past 11 years, conference, your Labour government has abolished ——-, put £xxxm into ———- for the ——- and provided free —— for the over-60s/over-80s/under-fives. The Tories opposed all these changes and have said they will revert to ——-. We want to make ——- stronger. That’s why we need unity and a fourth term for Labour.”

10. Avoid loose talk…
… in your hotel bedroom? One must assume, after the lead story this year (and in 2006) came from an overheard remark, that journalists will go to ever greater lengths to catch an unguarded, off-the-cuff comment. Politicians beware.

Written by Martin Moore

September 25th, 2008 at 9:56 am

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Still less 'sleazy' than Blair?

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A poll for BBC Newsnight yesterday suggested 57% of the public now think Brown has been ‘tainted by sleaze’ (Newsnight ICM poll reported by BBC). This sounds like a very bad thing.

But look back to 2002 and 60% of the public thought Labour (of which Brown was of course chancellor) appeared ‘sleazy and disreputable’ (YouGov poll reported by BBC).

Three years – and an exceedingly unpopular war – later, Blair fought and won a third election.

Brown is still 3 percentage points to the good and is extricating himself from Iraq. Maybe things aren’t quite so bad for Brown’s Labour after all.

Written by Martin Moore

December 4th, 2007 at 10:24 pm

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Scoop: British rail to be renationalised (apparently)

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When is a front page lead not a front page lead? When you can’t tell if it’s real. Today’s Times leads with ‘Secret talks open way to nationalise rail network‘ by Ben Webster.
Now this could be:
a) a genuine scoop
b) a semi scoop (i.e. a punt based on substantial sources and intelligent analysis)
c) a ‘manufactured’ story (i.e. story based on less substantial sources elevated to ‘news’ status)
The reason it’s so difficult to tell is partly because no-one else has it. I’ve checked the FT, the BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, and the Daily Telegraph. Nothing. Which, in our age of 24/7 publishing either means they think it’s a non-story and/or no-one else has access to the same sources as The Times.
But what are The Times’ sources? The article refers to ‘secret talks’ between Network Rail and Scottish Labour politicians but doesn’t say how the paper knows the contents of these talks. It also refers to ‘a thinly veiled reference’ within Labour’s Scottish election manifesto; but it would be a great leap from here to a news story about renationalisation. Otherwise it quotes figures who say they would approve of such a policy if it happened.
If it is a ‘manufactured’ story – to catch the eye of all of us who dearly dream of a better train service – then why this? Why not, like the Independent, lead with the attention grabbing ‘Revolution in cancer treatment’ (rather than bury it on p.25)?
I realise that trying to work out the motives behind a front page lead puts me firmly into the category of news-nerd, but it also shows the value of editors blogs (like the BBC’s) in an age when we’re all becoming more sceptical about what makes the news.

Written by Martin Moore

April 12th, 2007 at 4:54 pm

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