Thursday, 26 May 2016

Facts can be true or false or both

Not much change in how the EU debate is conducted but today the Times has a new development of sorts. The Brexit supporters have discredited the source of Remain opinion, such as President Obama. They also invent things as in claiming the Queen is a Brexit supporter. The Sun has not really apologised for this and repeats the basic claim in an editorial. Now the Times  reports that Steve Hilton, a close friend of Cameron ,   believes he is actually a Brexit supporter. Cameron is able to respond to this though the Queen has only IPSO to appeal to. Whether the public record will be clarified depends on the identity of the Sun source, as they claim to have one but about what is not clear.

There was a new event last Sunday when the Mail on Sunday turned out to be supporting Remain. On weekdays the Mail continues as normal. It was suggested during a paper review on the Andrew Marr show that this might be because of the polls. It is a sign that Fleet Street is not of one voice but I think the Mail on weekdays will continue with the Times / Sun and the Telegraph. The Mail on Sunday may be enough to swing opinion with Cameron supporters. It depends how much they refute from during the week.

No sign of Corbyn being reported though. Harriet Harman turns up on television sometimes but no mention of the #InCrowd hashtag. So maybe there is another world online where positive views are on offer. But I can't really find it. If there are longer gaps in this blog assume just continuing fear and innuendo.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Fear moves online

Things seem much the same, EU debate presented as an issue between Conservatives based on escalating fears. This will continue unless the positive ideas from Corbyn are reported. There is an alternative through social media but it is hard to get a grasp of the scale or how it compares with a news agenda still set by Fleet Street.

Today Program on BBC Radio 4 this morning included an interview with Steve Baker. He has written on the Conservative Home website that he did not expect "how quickly the Remain campaign would descend into insults, personal attacks and petty tabloid smears on key people."

He details comments about Boris Johnson from Michael Heseltine and about the tone of comments on immigration by John Major. Is it very surprising that Boris is getting some robust remarks? He chose to mention Kenya in his Sun opinion to discredit the views of President Obama. This could go on and on, I am not going to repeat all of it.

The thing to notice is that Steve Baker has gone to a web site rather than a newspaper and the Today prog has taken this as a story basis. Will this continue as people may get bored with "petty tabloid smears"? It could be interesting if the BBC are prepared to include a wider range of opinion.

Meanwhile IPSO has made a judgement on the Sun story about the Queen and Brexit. I did buy a copy of the Sun and cannot find any apology. Apparently just printing the fact that there was an IPSO judgement is all that is required. They repeat the claim in an editorial that the Queen probably agrees with them on Brexit though they do not name any sources. I cannot find much press interest in whether Michael Gove was possibly the source. There was when the story first appeared but now the rest of Fleet Street seems to have lost interest. There was even some sort of defence a while ago along the lines of Privy Council rules not applying over lunch. It just seems to me that if the Queen has no defence about what papers publish it is no surprise what is written about anyone else.

Most interesting comment so far is in the Huffington Post.  "IPSO Fails Another Big Test" , another reason why the interesting  reporting of the EU referendum debate will mostly be online and with an editorial base outside the UK.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Guardian Corbyn blindspot is a definite problem

Today's print Guardian is a bit of a landmark. They really don't like Corbyn. Just my impression, make your own mind up. Perhaps they genuinely believe that Labour will do better with another leader, someone their columnists could get on with. Something like that. Anyway the website is just the same.

Gisela Stuart is the lead part of the story, on the dangers of UKIP support growing if Labour is soft on immigration. Jeremy Corbyn speech is way down in the story. At least the Times had this the other way around.

The Guardian has no report I can find on the social media campaign around #InCrowd . It looks like there will be two parallel worlds, Corbyn online and the official Fleet Street scope with the Guardian very much included. As far as I can tell the BBC regard this as the news agenda also. Andrew Marr press review led with Times / Telegraph / Mail as if it is really just an internal Conservative debate. It may be the case that the BBC is not intimidated by any new regulations but try to imagine how different it would be if Osborne and Whittingdale were not phoning in rotation every ten minutes or so. Yes there would be extended presentations without constant breaks to say that the complete opposite might also be true.

Polly Toynbee is also keen on more Boris and Dave. Will she have anything to say about Jeremy and the EU potential for the environment, worker rights etc? Probably not. Much more likely nothing till after the result when he will be blamed for not making a case.

Meanwhile Huffington Post is doing a reasonable job on reporting. They have a photo of Corbyn and mention for the main hashtags. Maybe they do not feel they have to worry about conforming to the Fleet Street news agenda. the Guardian and the BBC possibly worry about seeming too odd.

Also the Huffington Post has an audience outside the UK. This may turn out to be very valuable for a more balanced point of view.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Pause after the elections

The Europe debate will start up again soon. there has been a break for the local elections.

Sadiq Khan is the new Mayor of London. He has spoken about hope rather than fear. The electorate in London seems to support this. But it is still quite possible that the Referendum will be decided by a contest in fear. Lord Mandelson has written about the Brexit case moving to immigration as a priority because the Remain case on the economy is frightening enough.

It still seems that the voting will be close. I don't see how Cameron can be too critical of the immigration arguments given the Conservative pattern of behaviour during the London election. It must take at least a month to alter course.

There may be media reporting of Jeremy Corbyn but during the local elections there was mostly a question about how long he would last as leader. I cannot see how the papers will report what he has to say about the positive case for Europe. Another reason I think this will get into fear and not much else.

Trying to find Daily Mail online. I bought one on the cover headline "Jemima's damning verdict on brother Zac's poll disaster" , turns out to be based on her public tweet. Not an interview or something like that. This really will become an online scene, but I'm still following the paper for the scope of this blog.

Thumbs down for Zac  Dominic Sandbrook page 16

Voters are not stupid, even in London. They recognise a smear campaign when they see one; and Mr Goldsmith’s campaign, alas, was precisely that.

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

but Thumbs up for Boris  Peter Oborne page 21

Boris Johnson has sped out of City Hall on his bicycle for the last time as London Mayor — but he is now heading like a human missile straight towards Downing Street.

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...he is already loved by the Conservative grassroots, and for good reasons. He is far more in tune with the popular mood than Westminster insiders like David Cameron and George Osborne.
He proved this last month when, in an article for the Sun, he challenged President Obama’s intervention in British politics on the side of the Remain campaign.
Mr Johnson was condemned by metropolitan political commentators, one or two of whom went to the lengths of announcing that his career was over. Subsequent polls have shown he was right and Westminster opinion was wrong: most voters share his opinion that it was none of the President’s business.

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No mention for his support of Zac, nor the variety of reasons his Sun article was challenged.

My guess is that the Fleet Street papers will be back to Brexit quite soon.

If there is not much space for Corbyn there will be very little hope, just fear against fear.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

BBC under pressure

A Guardian report suggests that John Whittingdale has told students about his views on the BBC.

The pro-Brexit minister added that the corporation “finds it difficult to take seriously people who have a different view of the world” and “has always regarded people who want to leave Europe as faintly mad [and] it has generally been in favour of spending public money rather than those who want to see lower taxes”.

The BBC is also under pressure from Cameron and Osborne. They may also decide on ways to take away cash. 

This may explain why the news programs often seem to be "balanced" joint statements with the opposite of every claim being added on. The whole debate seems to be happening within the Conservative Party. Also the BBC seems obliged to follow the agenda of most Fleet Street titles. 

The last thing to expect is that the Brexit press will be described as "faintly mad".

More after the local elections.

One interesting thing will be how Cameron may switch to a slightly adjusted take on immigration.