Friday, July 08, 2011

transmission belt

I still can't get over this morning's Cameron press conference. The incredible thing, as I said, was the transition in what was respectable to discuss. The Guardian went the whole hog and brought up the whole ball of police corruption, and Michael Crick of the BBC pressed very hard on the question of the money. Well, you might have expected that from them.

But ITV News's reporter demanded to know whether News International might shred all the evidence, Adam Boulton from Sky News was the first to raise the BSkyB issue, the Times wanted to know about the content of Coulson's "assurances", and the Sun asked if Coulson had betrayed the prime minister. Even if the Sun guy couldn't actually bring himself to say "Andy Coulson", it was quite the showing - about one step from a Nile TV-style on-air apology.

Cameron's response was odd. At one point he said this:

Democracy is government by explanation and we need the media to explain what we're trying to do".

Apparently he believes the mass communications organisations are a transmission belt between the Party and the People. How bizarrely communist.

At one point, he started talking about transparency, government credit cards, and releases of government meetings data. This was frankly surreal; I wasn't expecting him to go all ScraperWiki.

He also went on endlessly about having given Coulson a second chance. So much so that this was evidently a talking-point he'd been intensely coached with. I do wonder what work this was meant to do. Was it just meant to sound patronisingly nice? Surely someone ought to ask if he's soft on crime. After all, while criminals are in prison, you know they aren't spying on the families of the war dead.

The Tory crisis plan seems to be in two parts:

1) Hide behind OFCOM and the police.

2) Counter-attack Miliband's press secretary Tom Baldwin, because he used to work for the Times.

If you take this at face value, it implies that all current or former News International journos are marked men. So, I asked Tim Montgomerie if he would join me in calling for the resignation of Michael Gove, former assistant editor of The Times and current Education Secretary. We need to get a grip, etc. He's not replied yet.

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