Was it the Standard wot won it?


1:32 pm - May 3rd 2008

by DonaldS    


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So, it’s the weekend after the week before, and an alliance of gameshow fans, 4×4 drivers, suburban curtain-twitchers, BNP second-preferences, Labourphobes and the thoroughly fed-up, mostly from places that don’t even count as London, have foisted a Thatcherite mayor on our generally left-leaning city.

And I’ve missed one off that list, haven’t I? It’s inconceivable that this victory would have happened without BoJo’s almost unqualified support from London’s only real paper, the Evening Standard. Media ownership has never been so decisive. But where’s the evidence that media consumption affects our vote? Sunny isn’t convinced.

This recent study (pdf) by three leading political science methodologists from Yale University offers some clues. They constructed a field experiment to examine changes in the voting behaviour of new Washington Times (conservative) and Post (“liberal”) subscribers prior to state elections in Virginia in 2005. The money quotes, p. 14:

The newspapers did have an important effect on which candidate the subject supports. The Washington Post endorsed the Democrat and the Washington Times endorsed the Republican. Among those subjects who reported voting, getting the Post is estimated to increase the probability of selecting the Democrat by between 7.9 percentage points … and 11.4 percentage points.

And, p. 18:

Our investigation of the effect of newspapers on political attitudes, behavior, and subject knowledge of news events found that even a short exposure to a daily newspaper influences voting behavior as well as some public opinions.

While the authors specifically caution against over-generalizing from one specific case, and one 10-week period, their results suggest a powerful role for heavily biased media.

So, it was partly the media. Partly a (thoroughly justified) national “Brown effect”. Partly, too, that Londoners became fed up with Ken’s antics and warmed to the affable toff; and that turnout was higher in Tory Zone 5 haunts that aren’t even in “London”.

I also think – and this won’t be popular here – that the LibDems’ refusal to play the grown-up second-preference game to stop a candidate none of us wanted played a part. This obviously complex feat was managed comfortably by the Greens, the Trots and even the BNP. The party that favours STV electoral reform appears not to want to play preference voting. Paddick, whom I respected, and his team ought to feel a stab of guilt. He’s quickly disowned Johnson – a week too late to be of any use.

The big winners, of course, are the Standard, and Associated Newspapers generally. They’re doubtless feeling rather pleased with themselves as they blue-wash next week’s commemorative editions. I only hope they’re still smiling when the Tube’s Metro distribution contract comes up for renegotiation mid-way through Johnson’s administration. May they get the price they deserve.

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About the author
Donald is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is a travel journalist, editor, author and copywriter. In the wake of the 2005 General Election, he co-founded and edited The Sharpener for a couple of years. He writes the occasional book or newspaper article for money, as well as sharing his thoughts here for free. Also at: hackneye donaldstrachan.com
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Humour ,Mayor election ,Media ,Our democracy ,Realpolitik

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Reader comments


1. timcrowley

So the essence of your argument is that the people you mention in your first paragraph should not really be allowed to vote.
That sums up the debate really is is somewhat amazing for a Lib Dem site.
Democracy is i am afraid a broad church.
You win some…you lose some.

No, that’s not the argument at all, Tim. He’s simply pointing out something Boris Johnson admitted yesterday, that London isn’t a majority Tory city. So what brought him to power was an odd, unintentional coalition of interests. That is, of course, one of the things that happens in democratic systems. But one is entitled to feel disappointed with the asymmetry of it without wishing to deny others their voice.

Beyond the first para, the issue is, how much of a decisive role did the ES play?

If you read ‘about’ you’ll discover this isn’t a Lib Dem site, by the way.

Not having read the linked study, so basing this on absolutely nothing at all, but isn’t it possible that people who bought the Washington Times did so because of its general political slant, and were already highly likely to vote Republican, rather than picking a paper at random then voting for whoever the paper endorsed?

I only read the Standard when I can do so without paying for it and studiously avoid the opinion pieces, because they tend to be so one sided its silly. (And to be clear, I know most newspapers comment pages are equally one sided, but with the Standard, its not my side.)

Failing to suggest who you should put as your second preference is hardly failing to play the preferential voting game – suggesting people not put one would be.

@1 timcrowley – This website doesn’t in anyway profess to be Lib Dem (which would be clear if you read more than the first paragraph of this post) it professes to be ‘liberal’, almost in the pejorative US sense of the word, but “Social Democratic Conspiracy” hardly trips off the tongue.

Well assuming a large proportion of the ~ 95000 people who voted for Sian and Lindsey gave second prefs to Ken it looks like most of the Lid Dems didn’t. Not that, of course, you can’t be a Lib Dem and prefer Boris to Ken, but you should certainly thank your non-second-preffing friends for making it happen.

Or at least helping to make it happen.

6. Alex Parsons

Ahh, name calling! That’s the mature way to deal with this! Also I like to see we’re quite literally cutting our losses by deciding those areas that didn’t swell to our cause never were really part of London anyway. As an inhabitant of that misguided region maybe next time I should keep my vote at home out of principle?

I don’t think it would have been unreasonable for Paddick to suggest Lib Dems give second preferences to Livingstone once it became absolutely clear he wasn’t going to be in the run-off, but he didn’t have any obligation to. Once you make that declaration you’re cemented as third-party with no chance of success, hence why it’s easier for smaller parties than the Lib Dems to go ahead and declare second preference. It was Livingstone’s responsibility, not Paddick’s, to convince Lib Dems voters that he was closer to them than Johnson, as it turns out that wasn’t something he was able to do.

None of us here are happy with how this turned out, but let’s try and keep the tone above a tantrum.

I quite warmed to Paddick over the course of the campaign, though it was clear his inexperience in the political arena was hugely to his diasdvantage, and yet his practical experience in the police meant he was never able to be completely discounted.

Paddick’s contributions mean that a role will probably be found for him, though conservative administration will be wary of the platform he has built as I don’t suspect his political career is over just yet: if he can keep in the public eye by avoiding any obstacles put in his way by the mayoral team he will make a stronger contender in 4 years time.

This defeat for Livingstone is the end of the road for him and I can’t see any credible replacement candidates able to gain enough profile to challenge, unless, that is, we see the shock return of Tony Blair and his entry into the race for the presidential role he created.

Now that would be interesting!

It’s pretty difficult to accept the bias which describes the differences or celebrates the diversity within a city like ours but goes on to characterise it so plainly.

And it is definitely a reflection of one’s own prejudice to make a sweeping generalisation in the face of contrary evidence.

Maybe it’s because London begins with an ‘L’.

I’m with Alex Parsons in that Livingstone could have done more to court the Libdem vote, but its difficult to see how he could have. The issues many complained about – say his support for ID cards or for Ian Blair, didn’t even come up as issues.

I also agree with this:
Once you make that declaration you’re cemented as third-party with no chance of success, hence why it’s easier for smaller parties than the Lib Dems to go ahead and declare second preference.

On the main question:

Well, the YouGov poll came closest to predicting the race as far as I saw. And yet it showed a huge swing to Ken in the last few weeks when Nick Cohen and Andrew Gilligan and the entire Evening Standard were shrieking that we should vote Boris.

I think the impact they had more on was to set the tone of the debate over the election, which was, absolutely atrocious.

The blunder over Boris’s numbers on the cost of his buses didn’t come through Andrew Gilligan – that’s how good his reporting his. They studiously avoided finding any chinks in Boris’s armour, instead leaving it to the BBC to expose that Boris had no clue about his own figures.

It was a bit like how Republicans conduct their politics – chuck mud at the person’s personality rather than the policies he is advocating for lack of a better strategy. It worked, to some degree. I think it had more the effect of keeping away Labour supporters and galvanising Boris supporters than actually convincing people to switch.

ID cards was an issue for me, indeed I posted about it on my blog a couple of times during the run-up even though in the end I did hold my nose and give Ken a 2nd pref. And I’ve seen quite a few references (especially on CiF) to Livingstone’s support for Ian Blair.

So, I wouldn’t go as far as to say they were non issues even if they didn’t get as much publicity as other things.

When I say it didn’t come up as issues, I meant that in very little of the questioning did anyone ask Ken about ID cards or support for Ian Blair. The latter may be questionable, but the Mayor has no influence on the first issues. So it was irrelevant.
If the anti-ID cards really wanted to make it into a big thing, they should have harassed Ken about it right?
Besides, I don’t see the LC/CIF crew as indicative of the wider population. Thisis why we need better polling. I don’t think most voters knew or cared about his support for ID cards or Blair.

@3 Jono

You need to read the methodology – it’s all answered there. In short, that’s all been controlled for. Those measures of newspaper influence are *net*.

People are writing as if previous Ken voters had deserted him this time. In fact, he actually slightly INCREASED his share of the vote.

The increase in the Tory vote was 14 percentage points. 5 of these clearly came from UKIP, which suffered total collapse (losing both its Assembly seats also). The decline in the Lib Dem vote is another 5 percentage points.

So one could say that what essentially happened is that the right won because it was not divided as it was before. There was no collapse in the left vote. (Labour even gained a seat on the Assembly, up from 7 to 8.)

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems’ performance in London was disastrous for them. Not only did Paddick fail to get even 10% of first preferences (Simon Hughes had 15% in 2004), but they lost 2 of their 5 Assembly seats.

As far as newspaper influence is concerned, most people in London don’t read the Evening Standard. The smears against Ken cannot have much effect, since he increased his share of the vote.

@6 Alex

> we’re quite literally cutting our losses by deciding those areas that didn’t swell to our cause never were really part of London anyway

No, I decided they weren’t part of London a long time ago.

> Once you make that declaration you’re cemented as third-party with no chance of success

No, I don’t buy that. That’s the preference voting game. I’m not suggesting Paddick tell LibDems to vote for Ken (though in FPTP Westminster elections, they request Labour supporters in Tory-LD marginals do precisely that); merely that everyone face reality and cast their *2nd choices* wisely. That he apparently cast his 2nd pref for Lindsay German suggests he’s some kind of space cadet, which I’m sure he isn’t.

> It was Livingstone’s responsibility, not Paddick’s, to convince Lib Dems voters that he was closer to them than Johnson

Fair point. A bit of help wouldn’t have gone amiss, though. (And note: I didn’t cast my 1st pref for Ken, and I can think of *at least* 3 candidates I’d have preferred to him; but it was him or Johnson and I can’t say I hesitated. Much.)

On the substantive issue of the ES effect, I can’t say I ever read the damn thing. But I was aware of the coverage, could hardly avoid the sandwich boards, and merely point everyone to that Yale study in the piece. It’s rigorous, by proper political scientists not journalists, and quite convincing.

Newspaper reader: “Say, the Evening Standard hates Ken, so however bad he is, they will want to make him look worse. Better allow for that.”

It is just like Tories discounting the Guardian, or left -wingers discounting the Telegraph.

16. Reality Czech

I know that lefties are licking their wounds this weekend, but really…

Crying about the background and tastes of legitimate, enfranchised voters in a liberal democracy is truly pathetic. Seeing as this thread is to be wasted on dishonest finger pointing ,why not bring Thatcher into it? All the other left blogs are!

In fact, the rule on the web seems to be to talk about ANY random crap that could pass for an excuse, rather than face the cold hard facts:

1) Gordon Brown has sailed the last even vaguely credible manifestation of Marxist-based socialist government (aka ‘New’ or more accurately now ‘Old’ Labour) over a cliff from where it cannot return.

2) Ken Livingstone screwed it himself in London, you can’t pin it on a paper that simply reported what he had done.

If the Standard hadn’t exposed the goings on at city hall, how would anyone know about them? Maybe you would prefer an ignorant, compliant electorate continuing to return Livingstone. Who needs a free press? Why not just lap up all the propaganda in that Londoner free sheet?

Why even give these suburban curtain twitchers a vote???

You lot are going to have to try a LOT harder.

“Ken Livingstone screwed it himself in London” (Reality Czech)

No, he didn’t screw anything. His share of the vote was actually slightly up.

What happened is that the right won because it was not divided as it was before. There was no collapse in the left vote. (Labour even gained a seat on the Assembly, up from 7 to 8.)

18. Reality Czech

LOLOL ‘No, he didn’t screw anything’

His share of the first place was down.

“His share of the first place was down” (Reality Czech)

No, it was up, from 35.70% to 36.38%.

http://results.londonelects.org.uk/Results/CombinedMayoralResults.aspx

peezedtee has hit the nail on the head.

21. Reality Czech

What I mean is, his share of the WINNING place was down, i.e. %%%% aside…

he lost.

Convincingly.

Back to the drawing board.

@17 Reality Czech

There’s a delicious irony in your chosen handle.

And you obviously just turned up 5 minutes ago or you’d realise that you won’t find many (maybe any) here crying over the troubles of New Labour.

> a paper that simply reported what he had done

ha ha ha ha ha ha . That’s a joke, right? ha ha ha ha ha.

What paper in the world *ever* simply reports what happened? You can’t even be bothered to read the post, follow the links etc. etc. Why bother even leaving a comment? I’m surprised you haven’t trotted out “ZaNuLabour”. Back to the drawing board for you.

@ 18 peezedtee

> What happened is that the right won because it was not divided as it was before

That still begs the question: why? And that Yale study convinces me that it’s plausible the ES had a significant effect. Or potentially could have. And as Chris (@4) above says, I also think there’s significant evidence LibDems either voted for Johnson 2nd or didn’t bother. Or maybe, like Brian, they all voted for the Left List 2nd, I dunno.

@16 ad

> Newspaper reader: “Say, the Evening Standard hates Ken, so however bad he is, they will want to make him look worse. Better allow for that.”

You have to read the Yale paper I cite. That (you’re correct, valid) effect is covered in there, too.

Goodness. I’m reading a lot of patronising bullshit on the left-wing sites this morning. Reality check, people: if the masses don’t vote a candidate in, it’s the candidate’s fault. It’s their job to appeal to the electorate, not the electorate’s job to vote for them whether they like what they’re doing or not. The candidate stands because he wants to serve the people, not the other way round. This is called “democracy”.

I didn’t vote for Ken or for Boris. I voted for Ken eight years ago – yes, with my grubby outer-suburb not-really-London vote! – and he’s used my mandate to espouse causes that I passionately disagree with and people I strongly dislike. He clearly shares Donald S’s contempt for the outer boroughs because unlike Boris, who visited my borough five times during the course of his campaigns, Ken didn’t come to this borough once.

To give him credit, Ken accepted that the fact that more people didn’t vote for him was his failing and not theirs. He clearly understands democracy considerably better than some of the people who write for this site.

24. Reality Czech

Amen Katy. There’s a lot of delusional bollocks being chatted around. Must be in shock- they’ll get over it.

“I also think – and this won’t be popular here – that the LibDems’ refusal to play the grown-up second-preference game…”

Ok, I’ll bite.

1. Please, can you not hear yourselves when you say this kind of thing? It just confirms all one’s worst suspicions of Labour types – convinced of their own ineffable rightness even in the light of huge numbers of people telling them they’re wrong etc – to be piously instructed on one’s “duty” to keep Boris out at all costs. The Lib Dems are not here to tender to either Labour or Tory whims, whether either party likes that or not.

2. The abstract objection at 1, fundamentally about message and manners rather than substance, is before you take into account the fact that some Lib Dem voters (not including me) were perfectly happy to give Boris their second preference. The poll we held on LDV showed us as pretty evenly split between Boris and Ken for 2nd pref. That’s democracy, I’m afraid. I’m not happy about it either, but tough cookies – you’re fundamental assumption that “none of us wanted” Boris is simply wrong.

3. All the arguments I read suggesting that we should give Ken our second preferences were pretty much along the lines of “Yes, our man is a crooked bastard… but the other guy would be much worse” which to be honest isn’t much of a rallying cry and just compounds the irritation one felt at the constant pious injunctions about “duty” as outlined at 1.

4. How many times does this tedious fact need to be aired – Ken announced his intention to give his second preference to Sian Berry, and many Ken supporters presumably followed suit. Fine, their business. But what motivation does that give Lib Dem voters to put ken 2nd, exactly? Especially when said alliance quickly gave rise to Ken using Sian to get at Brian, rather in the manner of an Emmerdale plot. Again, Labour’s arrogant assumption that the Lib Dems would be happy to give them something for nothing just exacerbates the irritation one feels at being lectured.

5. Point of information. Brian wrote to the Times on 23 (I think) of April to dispel the myth that he was leaning Boriswards. He said specifically that he would not be prepared to work for either administration. This isn’t a new thing.

But I don’t hold out a great deal of hope that any of this will change your perception. Once someone has it in their head that a given course of action is the “grown-up” thing to do, it’s extremely hard to get them to consider another point of view, sadly.

26. Phil Beesley

When you despise the electorate who are “gameshow fans, 4×4 drivers, suburban curtain-twitchers, BNP second-preferences, Labourphobes and the thoroughly fed-up”, think again. You are taking them outside of politics.

@26 Alix

> all one’s worst suspicions of Labour types

Of course, you couldn’t possibly know this, but last week was the first time I recall ever voting Labour (if a 2nd pref for Ken even counts). I was once a LibDem member, and have voted for either you, or the Greens, or spoiled my ballot for as long as I can remember, including my LD cross last week in the Assembly top-up vote. I also have an active (i.e. doing stuff) and passive (i.e. just writing stuff) history of electoral reform campaigning. So your psychological profile is off the mark. Anyway….

…. your 2., and the shenanigans over the mayoral 2nd preference, would certainly make me pause before voting LD again. In London, no chance; for Westminster, perhaps.

Your 3. is just the nature of the beast in the world of preference voting. Personally, I don’t see much case for a ‘plague on both your houses’ approach: it was some bloke off the telly (who, btw, I find likeable) versus someone with a track record of concrete achievements for Londoners, particularly in transport. As if improvements in infrastructure, in Londoners’ daily lives, are somehow cancelled out by the fact that he’s a bit of a git and occasionally asks other gits to come to town.

LibDems are constantly complaining over “wasted votes” in Westminster elections, yet when your wannabe mayor has the chance to cast a non-wasted vote as well, he chooses (and gleefully admits on radio) to wasting it. It’s ridiculous. At the very least, he’s abstained. In fact, I’d diagnose it as worse than that: given the state of the pre-poll polls he has essentially acquiesced to BoJo’s coronation.

> what motivation does that give Lib Dem voters to put ken 2nd, exactly

Oh, dunno, maybe because they’d stop and think for a second that he might make a better mayor than BoJo, given that the race was a straight choice between those 2 and only those 2? I hadn’t realised the only reason LibDems campaigned for STV was so they’d have something to horse-trade with.

BTW, it’s not just Paddick’s refusal to endorse Ken 2nd that I find ridiculous. It’s that a party that has campaigned for years for preference voting made a point of turning up its nose at the distaste of casting a 2nd preference.

> it’s extremely hard to get them to consider another point of view, sadly

Meh, I change my mind on things all the time. Wide of the mark again, but you couldn’t possibly know that, obviously.

The YouGov data showed that people who self-identify as Lib dem were split in rough thirds along giving their FIRST preference to Brian, Ken or Boris. Without even going into second preferences, the Lib Dem vote had collapsed. My party, sadly, seems to be willfullt ignoring this and preferring to harp on about how much better the results in the council elections were…

Donald: “It’s that a party that has campaigned for years for preference voting made a point of turning up its nose at the distaste of casting a 2nd preference.”

We’re liberals. We believe in people being free to make a choice. This might seem counterintuitive to members of other parties, who tend to be ridiculously tribal (in fact, it took me a while to get my head around it) but the party would not DREAM of telling it’s members what to do. The members tell the party what to do.

Thus, the members are (or should have been) informed about the way the system works, but the party would never tell them who to put their second preference vote for, or even (in a properly proportional system) how to rank the candidates, other than “we’d really rather like it if you put our candidate first, although obviously if you have personal reasons not to, we’ll understand”.

29. Little Black Sambo

I have the feeling that I am intruding into a private members’ club here, where the underlying shared assumption is that Boris ought not to have won this election; but he did, fair and square. You could even assume that there were quite a lot of votes fraudulently cast for Ken by some of the people he has been cultivating, so Boris’s true majority might be bigger. If newspapers have so much influence the Guardian and Independent ought to increase their circulation to make people think the correct thoughts.

BTW, it’s not just Paddick’s refusal to endorse Ken 2nd that I find ridiculous. It’s that a party that has campaigned for years for preference voting made a point of turning up its nose at the distaste of casting a 2nd preference.

Spot on.

Jennie:
This might seem counterintuitive to members of other parties, who tend to be ridiculously tribal

Actually, it looks from here that Libdem’ers are just as tribal. That’s not a bad thing in itself, and I take your point about not telling how other LD’ers to vote. But the point here is about Brian Paddick himself. He voted for Lindsey German! Jesus! Its just really childish.

Sunny,

calling people childish isn’t exactly mature itself.

Try looking at his choice from his vantage, rather than your own.

Personally I also disagree that it was the best choice, but it is the most rational choice from his position and highly justifiable (though I’d’ve though an experienced politician would sense how this might be perceived by some potential allies and conclude it’d therefore be better to avoid answering).

Maybe you’re getting cabin fever in there and are unconsciously starting to propagandise, so perhaps you could be more careful not to expose your own ignorance and biases if you don’t want to lose any respect for your opinions.

BTW, it’s not just Paddick’s refusal to endorse Ken 2nd that I find ridiculous. It’s that a party that has campaigned for years for preference voting made a point of turning up its nose at the distaste of casting a 2nd preference.

Spot on.

I concur as well. As I said a couple of months ago when the Greens came out in support of a second preference for Ken, this is a *normal* occurance under the alternative vote, as we see in Australia.

The decision not to come out with a preference recommendation is entirely to do with lib dem politics where they ‘play’ tory in some seats and ‘play’ progressive in others and nothing to do with principle.

thomas – I’ve said this before…. I’m not obsessed by party tribalism in a way that others are. I’m interested in supporting and pushing for the forces of liberal-left-progressivism. Whatever you want to call it, its the opposite of the reactionary conservatives.

As MANY have pointed out already, sometimes parties on the left work together to fight the right. Its not usual but it does happen when they can get over their sectarian bickering and the right-wing candidate has a good chance of winning.
Its the norm in countries where you have PR or similar sort of voting systems.

Let’s assume that we bring in PR and all the parties collapse to around a third of the vote. What will the Libdems do then? Hold out until they get selected by themselves, and until then tell the others to screw themselves?

Now, I accept that Labour behaviour on this has been pretty snooty towards the Libdems too. Thats a foregone conclusion. But look at how the two Green AM candidates extracted green policies out of Ken in return for their support. Surely thats the sort of alliance building politics we should be looking forward towards?

Or, DonaldS, the defeat could have been down to Labour’s current difficulties, as the study suggests:

the month prior to the post-election survey was a difficult period for President Bush, one in which his overall approval rating fell by approximately 4 percentage points nationwide. It appears that heightened exposure to both papers’ news coverage, despite opposing ideological slants, moved public opinion away from Republicans.

“… pushing for the forces of liberal-left-progressivism.”

Haha! Tell me, do you write Private Eye‘s Age of Change spoof column? Are you fighting against the running dogs of Blairite-Campbell-Capitalism…?

DK

@35 ukliberty

Well, yes, I do say that in the piece, too. Labour are shit nationally, Ken had a particular talent for irritating people, etc. etc. There’s rarely a simple cause–effect thing going on in politics.

It’s worth noting, though, that the “Washington Post” effect I cite in the quotes used in the piece is a *net* effect; i.e. after controlling for everything that can be controlled for. Its calculated pro-Dem swing is that *over and above* the (also anti-Bush, as you say) one experienced by Washington Times readers.

Let’s be clear, you devoted more words to the newspaper effect, on which you focussed, than any other factor.

Regarding your point about specific newspapers:

if individuals perceived the Times to be conservative, then biased news reporting may not influence public opinion at all. On the other hand, if individuals perceive the Post as more neutral, they may be more likely to be influenced by the reporting.

Do you believe the Evening Standard is perceived to be neutral or biassed?

Why can’t contributors to Liberal Conspiracy be honest about what happened on 1 May?

This discussion seems to be reverting to an age old theme about objectivity, what neutrality actually means and what measurements are acceptable in assessing potential alliances.

I really don’t like ‘progressive’ labels (though I’d probably be included as one) for the reason that this abrogates the responsibility to decide what this means in reality for oneself as the temptation to turn the label quickly turns into an easy method for manipulation – which is either something this site is either lying to its audience about or foolishly failing to recognise.

Neutrality is not just about avoiding tribalism, but also promoting trenchant non-allignment and independence by resisting policy delineation and the territorialism of the more powerful.

The alternative balance is only an interim solution that ultimately fails the audience; the Beeb is balanced, and is therefore a hostage to accusations of bias, which is why it cannot staunch the flow of viewers to competing outlets – it is still the most trusted for now, though it cannot be and will never be fully trusted.

The personal party preferences of the editorial staff at any newspaper or media company (especially at ES and the national polemic sheets like the guardian and DM) will probably surprise most outsiders – it’s an everyday debate encountered in their professional life where sense must prevail occassionally in their minds, but they recognise the need to survive in an environment where commercial imperatives rule. This form of separation is the prime reason why criticisms of Rupert Murdoch founder, however much anyone might disagree with the particular line taken by NewsCorp outlets.

LC clearly operates according to a different model and therefore doesn’t need to undertake the same ‘shepherding’ exercises which you or others may favour or oppose.

I’d even go so far as to say directing policy of the site will be in the face of the audience (and therefore hindering well-intentioned coalition-building possibilities) because this fails to exploit the potential of the medium.

While there has been much discussion since 2004 US presidential election about how “it woz the blogs wot won it” the traditional MSM has gradually (though ungraciously) conceded the point while simultaneously trying to limit the influence of the newcomers (the title of this thread harks back to the ancient 1992 GE, which, if it’s true, draws a dry comparison about how society and politics has regressed). So if LC really does want to move things forward by opening up current debates and stop people being shut out of discussions it can’t be up to the staffing editors, only the participating audience – for which you need the largest and best-informed audience possible.

You’ve had a go at me for obsessing over labels before, but I humbly point out that it is your retention for your prefered label that is preventing your influence from growing.

39. Sean Fear

Ken’s supporters here seem to blaming everyone but their candidate, themselves, or the Labour government for his defeat. Blaming the voters, the press, or the Lib Dems is just downright silly, and a prelude to worse defeats to come.

Even had Paddick recommended a second preference vote for Ken, it’s unlikely to have swayed many voters. The evidence is that Lib Dems split their second preferences more or less evenly.

Face it, people were tired of the government and wanted to kick them; and they were tired of Ken and wanted a change.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. DonaldS

    A rare foray over 140 chars, at Liberal Conspiracy. “Was it the Standard wot won it?” http://tinyurl.com/4vt8jl

  2. Pickled Politics » Is London too large?

    […] to vote for someone the great and good disapproved of. DonaldS over at Liberal Conspiracy even suggests that Boris Johnson wasn’t the choice of Londoners because the outlying boroughs don’t […]





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