Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Why Have These Stories Not Had More Coverage ?

A couple of weeks ago I expressed a view that those who take a close interest in politics sometimes over-estimate the implications or ramifications of day-to-day events.

Perhaps, after three months watching politics more closely in order to support my blog, I'm now falling into the same trap. There have been two items over the last couple of days which appear to have received next to no coverage, and I just don't understand why.

The first of them is a "cash for access" story, relating to a Labour peer who has admitted taking money to introduce a lobbyist for an arms company to Lord Drayson, the government minister in charge of weapons purchases.

The introduction was handled in June 2005 by Lord Hoyle, formally Doug Hoyle, a one-time Labour front bencher and Warrington MP, and he received an undisclosed sum of money.

For me this evokes memories of the "cash for questions" scandal of the 90s, in which people paid two Conservative MPs £1,000 to ask questions in the House of Commons (God knows how much they had to pay to get an answer, but that's another story).

The Guardian reports this in more depth here.

The second misdemeanour relates to Emily Thornberry, much-loved Labour MP for Islington
South and Finsbury. She doctored a press release from the Electoral Commission by inserting a quote from herself, and then passed it onto the Press as if it had come from the Commission itself with her quote in it.

The Standards and Privileges Committee have written a report on the affair. Apparently manipulating a press statement from an independent body does not constitute a breach of the MPs' Code of Conduct (makes you wonder what does) but the Committee described Thornberry's conduct as "unwise and unfortunate". Seems downright reprehensible to me.

I can't help feeling that coverage of both of these stories has been very light, and that had they occurred in the climate of sleaze in the last years of the Major government then they'd have received a very different profile. Example of anti-Conservative bias ? Well, maybe in some quarters. The BBC is taking a battering from right-wing and Lib-Dem blogs for leaving Thornberry as the "unnamed" MP in the doctored press release scandal. But actually I think it's more a case that once upon a time stories involving poor behaviour amongst our legislators were worth reporting, and now they're just commonplace.

Incidentally, I got news on both of these from Iain Dale.

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