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.