Thursday 29 March 2007

Yesterday's News Tomorrow

I have been beaten to my post on Charles Clarke's RTS Speech by both Ellee and Nick Robinson; however, I was at least there so will blog my view of events as a hopefull useful addition.

Firstly, I did nothing to embarrass my self or any of the other people there. it was packed with media luvvies as you would expect; but there were at least some interesting and influential people in the audience who asked some good questions.

Overall, Clarke is a man if quite impressive intellect. of course his political views and conclusions are not my cup of tea; but his grasp of the subject and ability to answer long questions in detail is a difficult task that he did well. The waspish Alistair Stewart as host was a less useful interlocutor and he revealed at the beginning what old chums they were from 1960's labour politics.

Anyhow, Clarke's main contention was that the media has grown all powerful. he admits that Blair met with his team after John Smith's death and stated he would become leader of the party and the country by 'using' the media. Clarke is wounded by the 'damage; the media did to his beloved Neil Kinnock (blimey!). He praised Blair and his gruesome twosome for controlling the media.

Of course, not that the media have found out the New Labour control tactics, Clarke does not like it any more and instead asks for more regulation and a change in the press. He admits Labour has to change, but it is more the media's fault.

To me this just sounded like sour grapes; not an unsurprising conclusion about recent speeches from Clarke.

Two points he made though did stick;

1 - the 24 hr news agenda means that Sunday Programmes and the like are always just fishing for soundbites and this destroys their credibility and purpose. This is something I agree with and the pathetic attempts by some of the producers present (none over age 19) to defend this just helped Clarke's case here.

2 - He said history was littered with front running politicians who the media have slayed at the last hurdle, most recently he cited David Davis. He was very keen on Milliband standing or perhaps even himself and fancied someone would stop Broon.

We can but hope he is correct.


James Higham said...

Point 1 at the end has particular relevance and yet this is what struck me:

"Of course, not that the media have found out the New Labour control tactics, Clarke does not like it any more and instead asks for more regulation and a change in the press. He admits Labour has to change, but it is more the media's fault."

That's it. Control tactics.

CityUnslicker said...

Yup - it is indeed.I think media managemetn is just ingrained in the politico psyche now at the expense of real policy or integrity. For all Parties too.

Raedwald said...

As Clarke said, Nu Lab's determination to keep control of the news agenda by means of the 'grid' (and though he didn't say it, by the ruthless internal discipline and bullying of Alastair Campbell &co) has had its day. Primarily because it simply allowed the media to portray Nu Lab as nasty control freaks.

I think he's still missing the point if he imagines it's all about control of the news agenda. TV news audiences have collapsed; we've moved into an age where the public 'pull' their own news agenda from a multiplicity of media channels rather than the old 'push' model that Clarke still fondly remembers.

Nu Lab's 1997 'grid' pagers are no more than museum pieces; hardly anyone under 25 would even recognise one. Society has moved on more rapidly than anyone could ever have imagined.

It's the law of unintended consequences of course that the technology that spin doctors imagined would allow them to capture control of the agenda more firmly - digital broadcasting, web 2.0, blogging and all the rest - has had exactly the opposite effect. MPs and Ministers may be damned if they don't blog, but they're certainly damned if they do - it puts them on an exact par with any Joe Potato and removes the monopoly of media access they had previously enjoyed.

CityUnslicker said...

I agree entirely with your analysis Raedwald. What was great I thought at the event was that this was not even mentioned. Clarke alluded to it once, but the gathering of the MSN were firmly there with heads in their own asses, thinking it was up to them to control waht any government official had to see.

They'll be the first on the job market when the revolution comes....

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, c/u. I read about the CC speech at Ellee's and then did read the whole of it. My conclusions were similar to yours on his intellect and it is good to read the take on the speech of someone who was there. I agree on point 1 at the end. I'd have liked to have been there and seen all those media luvvies and how they behave for myself!

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