Saturday, May 29, 2010

Press gets a govt scalp just three weeks into new parliament

Further to my previous post on David Laws and expenses, David Laws has resigned. Honeymoon over for the new ConDem Coalition, just three weeks into their government.

There appears to be a lot of gnashing of teeth from both the Tory and LibDem camps, indeed some on Conservative Home are talking about boycotting the Telegraph, which is childish in the extreme!

I suppose none of them were really prepared for the ferocious bearpit that governing Britain in the 21st century has become. Pre 1997 there was no BBC news 24 or other UK 24-hour channels, there was no blogosphere, newspapers had barely gone online let alone got into the habit of updating their sites all hours of the day at the first hint of news. If Tories are struggling with the new world, it's even harder for the LibDems, as they were generally ignored, which meant they went under the radar most of the time.

Both Tories and LibDems have got used to carping from the sidelines, and suddenly they are in the hot-seat. Laughably, some were arguing today that Laws should be left alone, "because he's in government and has a job to do". Well being in government means having to do your work while being battered 24/7 by the press, and you fit in eating, sleeping, cuddles with your spouse and reading stories to your kids, as and when. Anyone in doubt should read Alastair Campbell's account of the Blair Years.

There seems to be some pique amongst the Coalition that Tory papers such as the Telegraph are having a go. What they need to understand is that while the Tory press will be supportive of a Tory govt when they can, they are essentially businesses in an era where they are all making losses, bar the Daily Mail. The need to hold onto readers and therefore advertisers is paramount, and trumps any loyalty they may have to Cameron and co. That's business for you.

The Telegraph has decided that their USP is breaking important stories. The more they can do this, the more likely they will become the go-to place for all news, and gain an edge over their competitors. Yes, they will lose a few hundred activists from Conservative Home, but may gain a several thousand readers from middle Britain. For them, it's a dog-eat-dog world and yes, they will happily eat Tories for breakfast too if it earns them a crust.

Tories and LibDems should get used to it - it could be much worse. Labour not only had to face hungry-animal press, but wall-to-wall hostile Tory press, even when they'd been fed. Despite this, Labour still lasted 13 years and managed to deny the Tories a majority in 2010.

If the poor precious ConDems can't cope, there is always the option of throwing in the towel and letting the battle-hardened Labour machine take over the hard business of government.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'Honeymoon over for the new ConDem Coalition, just three weeks into their government.'

Your usual wishful thinking.
The opinion polls (in the real world) totally contradict you,there's a surprise!

Oh,and when we have a real test of opinion (last Thursday in case you had forgotten) New Labour gets dumped into third place,how funny is that.