Tuesday, 23 September 2008

BBC coverage of Brown speech

Having watched the 6 O'Clock news I see that wall-to-wall uncritical coverage and adulation is the BBC order of the day...sigh.

Good speech I thought...

Regardless of whether it was backed up by the facts or record, I thought Brown's conference speech just now was good.

Now it will be interesting to see how the media covers it... (is Andrew Neil that negative post-speech for all parties?)

It will be interesting to see whether there is a post-conference bounce for Labour. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your viewpoint, I'll miss it as I'm off on Holiday, Wohoo!

Bah, (FX: dons tinfoil hat) I reckon this Labour leadership plot was all a plot to divert coverage from our conference. Was he really ever in danger?

Monday, 22 September 2008

Everyone's "Making it Happen"

Is it just me or were the Labour delegates and ministers interviewed on the Today programme this morning using the phrase "Making it Happen" and "Make it happen" rather a lot?

Sincerest form of flattery I guess...

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Don't "listen", "do"!

Firstly let gets this out the way, in a comment my post on our new broadcast, anders defends it by saying that the people's stories are real. Look, I'm not suggesting they weren't real, that we don't have the best policies, that we aren't the only ones to have any, that we aren't different from other parties, that we wouldn't take positive action or that we wouldn't listen but...

My (numerous!) points are purely presentational.

Obviously we should be and are a listening party unlike the others. The problem is the "establishment parties" (great phrase that Nick has used and should use more often) say they are too and say it ALL the time. The public know they're not. Every time Gordon Brown loses a by-election he comes on and makes a speech that no-one believes about how the government has to listen.

No-one believes it!!! Saying we need to listen has become a shortcut to saying standard, insincere, duplicitous, only looking out for their own jobs politician scum with no ideas to offer!

Even if I had got through the awful "emotive" music and the awful acting, I would have switched off our PPB as soon as Nick had started talking about listening, having learnt all I need to know about the LibDems. I thought they may be just the same as all the others, now I know they are.

Sadly, I always watch LibDem stuff (when I can find it) willing it be good and make full use of any opportunity to be heard we can grab so I did watch it all the way through. I found myself almost screaming at the screen... okay I did actually scream, how sad is that! Feel sorry for the missus!

Nick quite rightly said in his speech that Cameron has "tried to take over every comforting, soft-focus word in the dictionary". Well, they haven't just tried, they have mostly succeeded. It was absolutely right that we should mock his use of them (but more aggressively, custard? come on! Someone's been watching too much Russell Howard on Mock The Week!) to make it harder for him and hope the public realise.

Except I think they do. By taking over these words Camerom has also devalued them (to the level of "listen", and , to be fair this isn't just Cameron as it has been going on for longer) which means even we can't sound sincere using them.

So we shouldn't. Use them that is.

Also this is all the more imperative as the media/establishment parties are trying to push the dismissive "Nick is Cameron-lite" angle. Only this morning on Today they had a quick round up of the sketchwriters response to Nick's speech which all sounded very negative. They quoted Quentin Letts saying Nick was a "Cameron tribute act". I know we can all dismiss this as deliberately biased rubbish designed to undermine us (esp. from the Daily HateMail) which it is but that's not the point, it works! The media feeds on itself, the BBC repeated it this morning (as it's a good line which fits in with there easy 2-party story) and soon it will become the public memory of the speech.

We have to do everything we can to not appear like the others. I know we're not and we keep talking about how we should be edgy but I don't see it.

We should change things around, instead of saying:

This is a terrible problem, look here's someone with that terrible problem, we should be listening and as Liberal Democrats we would...

surely we should say:

Bam! Liberal Democrats would do this! In order to solve this problem.
Bam! Liberal Democrats would do this! In order to solve this problem.
Go on, ask the others what they would do.




Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Great speech but... (pt 2)

I'm not sure it was really necessary to say we were heading for government (however cleverly couched). It just allows for headlines like:

"Clegg tells Lib-Dems: We're on our way to power"

which at a first glance just makes us sound delusional and allows people to just read the headline and not the article by dismissing it as a typical, they're all the same, substance-less leaders speech.

I don't think conference would have minded had it not been said (it didn't look like they were expecting it!).

Good speech, shame about the jokes...

Okay, most of them were okay but:

"Zombie government"

Excellent, excellent soundbite for for news...

"a cross between Shaun of the Dead and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue"

Oh dear a clunkly, forced, unfunny joke that relies on a reference to a Radio 4 programme!

Worse than that it was said directly after the zombie soundbite without a gap so it has to be featured in the news along with the good zombie soundbite. Who writes this stuff?

Also, I'm not sure this reliance on "real people" stories really works apart from the disabled kid which , I think, did as it illustrated positive action instead of just saying people have it bad (yes the people you are telling know this and it could come across as condescending).

Apart from that a thumbs up.

Terrible headline and it's all our fault!

The BBC is now covering Nick's speech as Lib Dems 'headed for government' as I worried about in my previous post.

This just makes us look delusional or just another bunch of faker politicians who will say anything regardless of the what people know to be truth. More importantly it obscures the important messages that we were trying to put out.

Yes, I know it wasn't meant in that way but we should know by now how these things pan out in the media (I'm sure they've picked up on something similar and used it as the main message in previous leader's speeches in the past - and I put my head in my hands then as well!)

We as LibDems have to put as simple a message as possible out without anything extraneous the media could use to distract from it. We make similar mistakes every year. Yes, you could say that the media would always pick up on something but we shouldn't make it easy for them.

The other distraction is the robocalling but so far we seem to have been lucky having watched the BBC's 6 O'Clock report but we'll have to see tomorrow's papers to see if we've managed to dodge that particular distracting bullet.

The new party conference broadcast (pt 2)

As if to prove my point about a direct, honest, piece to camera this latest Obama ad (over on Liberal Burblings) is excellent!

The new party conference broadcast

It seems I'm not the only one who thinks those "real life" stories of hardship don't work.

Julian Glover in the Guardian says : "This sort of thing is tiresome and a bit fake".

Unfortunately, having watched out new party conference broadcast, this is exactly what we are doing more of. Except this time, each person had to be shown with "Actor" emblazoned across the screen, just so everyone knows that we're just another all style and no substance party!

I really had to force myself to listen to what they were then (hamilly) saying.

Again, with the awful music. Surely our USP is that we are different to other parties and actually have useful policies or any at all. How is a music-laden PPB with actors going to help with this?

IMHO, our best PPB was a post-budget one with Vince calmly, and at length, explaining how Chancellor Gordon Brown had massively expanded the taxcode. I found it really engaging.

Why not just have Nick talking to camera?

We are supposed to be different. Why do we insist on doing these throwaway PPBs?

Of course, maybe the party had done extensive research and this is exactly what people respond to and I'm completely wrong but I doubt it.

I hope the robocalling doesn't overshadow the speech

The issue of the robocalling of 250,000 people was bothering me and I'm sure this will be something the other parties will be pressing the media to make the story like so.

Let's hope it doesn't spread!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

What conference?

We weren't mentioned at all on the 6 O'Clock news!

Is the conference still on? (rhetorical question)

We've got to keep this tax message clear..Danger sighted

Listening to Nick's interview this morning on the Today programme, I can see a potential narrative danger arising.

Firstly, I think Nick mixed up his millions and billions a few times (at least I think he did, better watch that).

But more worryingly, the interview left me with an impression that we were just saying tax cuts were a good idea but we didn't have any costed (typical wooly LibDems). Whereas the position is that the 4p cut in income tax is fixed and it's just further tax haven't been costed yet (due to state of country's finances etc.).

I think the lie that we haven't committed to anything, are being typically wooly, sums don't add up, not serious etc. is one that our opposition parties and the media will gladly pick up on and repeat ad nauseum and we need to nip it in the bud quickly.

We should (if we have the power) deflect the story away from possible future tax cuts (wooly) and let them conflate the "defining tax vote" and the already announced 4p income tax cut.

Monday, 15 September 2008

We've moved ahead of Prince William!

Well, the news of the vote on tax cuts moved us up by a minute on the BBC 10 O'Clock news to only 22 minutes in and we just sneaked ahead of the royal news.

Unfortunately, they managed to find the most stereotypical liberal to show giving the opposing view...

Conference reduced to less than 1m20s

...Just now on the 6 O'Clock News. First and only mention was at 6:23pm. I normally would have switched off by then (especially after another turgid but lengthy report on the Labour party).

We were even beaten by a Buck House press release about Prince William.

"traditionally seen as a tax and spend party", "complete turnaround", hmm, well it least it sort of got our message out, even if it was illustrated by a particularly dull bit of Vince's speech. (Sorry Vince!)

I was going to pen a piece about our coverage and lack thereof (esp. BBC) ages ago but first waited for our Make It Happen launch (which manged to get Nick a spot on the coveted post-8:30am, everyone's gone to work and stopped listening spot on Today) and now I think I'll see how conference is reported from the outside (I'm not there)...

Thursday, 11 September 2008

I've now read the Green Alliance report...

Having now read the Green Alliance report, I think the blame lies mainly with the writer of their Press Release and also trying too hard to seem even handed in the actual report. Whilst it is scathing in places about the other parties, this is all it could find negative to say about the LibDems:

"We have not identified any specific low points where the Liberal Democrats have taken an anti-environment position over the past twelve months. But we are concerned by the decline in profile and priority given to environmental issues, from the party that has so often led the way. With the exception of Nick Clegg’s announcement on energy, the Liberal Democrats have not been making the political weather on the environment as they have done in the past. We need the party to be more visible over the next twelve months and to set the pace on environmental issues, particularly in the run-up to the next general election."

Hmm, well, I don't think they've really helped in making the party "more visible over the next twelve months".

Also, as if to illustrate the point, the report has pretty graphics illustrating the balance of environmental "highs" and "lows" of each party. Both the Conservatives and Labour have more lows than highs, whereas we are distincly top-heavy with only one "low": "LibDem Leadership on the environment wanes"!

However, whilst the press release does mention some of our positives and those of the Conservatives (Cameron made a speech, "the environment is quite important, wot!", yeah well done), it starts by saying how all the parties are failing and has a quote from Stephen Hale, director of Green Alliance:

"None of the three main parties are currently showing the vision and courage to prepare the UK for the challenges ahead."

It then goes on to bulletpoint the failings of the three parties. Again our "failing" is derisory, "Nick Clegg has not yet set the pace", woah!

However this is enough for lazy (and to be fair, busy) journalists to write their "plague on all their houses" story.

If the Green Alliance had intended to raise the debate about climate change and pressure politicians or all parties to change, they have singularly failed. However, maybe they would tell you that if they had released it more accurately it wouldn't have even been made into a story?

New website down and then up again?

The new party website went through a period of being weird:

...It seems to be back up now.

Unless it was a problem my end?

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The universe is not in danger...yet!

A comfortable place is relieved we all still exist.
However I'm afraid the moment of truth hasn't happened yet.

Green Report critisises parties equally?

The Today programme had a report on a report from Green activists (CPRE, FoE, NT, RSPB, etc.) that "critises all the major parties" about their lack of Green credentials.

Surely, that can't be right, I thought. I wonder what they think we're doing badly on.

The two-way went some thing like:

Presenter: So, has this report picked out any particular party or is it a plague on all their houses?
Correspondent: They all come in for criticism. Some politicians I spoke to are glad they are all criticised as it's less damaging.

(Blimey, we must have done something bad).

The summary she then gave was:

Labour - Inadequate
Conservatives - All style and no substance
LibDems - (must be bad...)Have lost their traditional leadership is these issues

What? Leadership? The media don't report this, yes we know this.

Sorry, are we still the only party with any decent Green policies? Yes. Are we still proposing a massive shift to green taxation? Yes. Oh, maybe we've quietly dropped some policies recently? No!

So, a story which should have been good for us has instead become a all politicians are the same story to prepetuate people's dissillusionment with politicians.

I couldn't find this story on the BBC website but found the PA report. Hmm, as well as saying the LibDems "have seen their lead on green issues "wane" at points during the year" (strong criticism indeed!) it also described our position on zero carbon as "brave and bold".

It also said that Labour's position was "incoherent and contradictory" and there was an"increasingly alarming" gap between the conservative's green aspirations and commitments.

So is this the fault of the BBC's shoddy reporting or the fault of the press release that felt it had to appear even handed by criticising all parties but in actually just levelled them all done to the same level and mitigated any positive impact on the debate this report might have had?

Bah, who do I complain to?

Monday, 8 September 2008

Price Inflation...Ha!

Colgate Regular toothpaste (their bottom of the range) was 89p now £1.45! That's an increase of 62% by my reckoning.

Okay, they have added a "New Improved" line to it but I'm not falling for that...

I don't want an improved one, it's like forcing people to get Vista. Bah!

Yes, yes free market, I could start using a different brand but where to start? Any ideas?

Saturday, 6 September 2008

A bumper crop of nutters

Radio 4's Any Nut^H^H^HAnswers which follows on the Saturday repeat of Any Questions always makes for an interesting if frustrating listen with it's succession of cliched stereotypes ringing in (mostly right-wing, it's Political Correctness Gone Mad, Left-wing BBC bias, never did me any harm types, although I can't help but have a soft-spot for the old brigadiers but never the Mary Whitehouses!).

This recent edition outdid itself in terms of nutter quantity and quality.

First we had the man who said we should stop building wind farms and just build loads of coal plants. Jonathan Dimbleby put it to him that burning coal would release lots of CO2 into the atmosphere. His answer to this was classic and even included the phrase "you people at the BBC"!

His contention was that "you people at the BBC" always say the ice melting will cause sea-levels to rise but if you melt ice in a glass the water level goes down (I thought it stayed the same?). I found myself shouting at the radio "but most of the ice is on land"!! Luckily a contributor did point this out later in the programme.

JD did try, in vain, to point out that it wasn't "you people at the BBC" saying things but reporting scientists saying things

In the same vein we also had a rabid email ending with "I bet you won't read this out", sigh...

Then there was a Mary Whitehouse type who made the point that we shouldn't say Sarah Palin was exteme in being a creationist as there were many who agreed in the US (fair point) but then went on to say that I think you'll find that most people agreed with her around the world (you could almost hear the mad-staring eyes). She obviously wanted to be challenged on this so she could spout forth but JD wasn't rising to it (I'm sure you could hear him rolling his eyes several times).

She also thought it was wrong that people responded to creationists by mocking them. I'm not sure how else you are supposed to respond to someone who thinks the world is 6,000 years old and children played happily with T-Rexs!

Climate change sceptics like Iain Dale at least have a small amount of scientific dissent to reinforce their belief that climate change is a left-wing plot to make them earn slightly less money (like social justice) but I think you'd have a harder time with the whole friendly dinosaur proposition!

My favorite contribution was from someone I can only describe as a Mike Giggler of indeterminate politics:

MG: I've got a sexist joke about Sarah Palin, can I tell it?
JD: Go ahead...
MG: She says she's a bulldog with lipstick, so what does that make her?
JD: (I'm sure I could hear more rolling of eyes)
MG: Do you get it?
JD: No. (silence)
MG: She says she's a bulldog with lipstick, so what does that make her?
JD: I don't know what you're trying to say

(obviously this is from my hazy memory so not verbatim)

Hmm, this post seem to have become is bit Wilcocksian in length. I'll try to less verbose in future (fat chance!)

Friday, 5 September 2008

First Post

I'm new to this blogging lark, so I might do this wrong.

I decided that instead of screaming at the TV/Radio/long-suffering better-half, I might blog to save on therapy bills!

I'm a Liberal Democrat by temperament and membership but not as involved as I should be.

We'll see how this goes...