Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dancing to Labour's tune

I posted here last Wednesday about how the new Labour spin doctor, Tom Baldwin, had the cheek to try to tell the TV news how they should refer to the government, writing to tell them not to refer to the government as "the coalition" and asking them to use the phrase "Tory-led government" instead.

I was expecting the media to politely ignore this rather presumptuous suggestion and most of them have. I still think it is likely to prove counterproductive.

The irony is that whenever a programme now uses even a similar phrase, as Channel 4 did on Sunday when they referred to the "Conservative-led coalition" they open themselves up to the suggestion that they are dancing to Labour's tune.

Danny Finkelstein was the first to question Channel 4's use of the phrase in a blog on the Times site (won't be linking to the post as it is behind the paywall), and this was picked up by James Forsyth at the Spectator Coffee House blog here. Forsyth admitted that

"It is tempting to dismiss the whole thing as absurd" but he added

"But labels do matter."


Mike Smithson at Political Betting said that

"The broadcasters have a public service obligation and I think that Channel 4 is opening itself up to criticism."

Overall I suspect that for every journalist who is minded to take Baldwin's advice there will be two who won't use the phrase when they otherwise might have, in order to avoid looking like a Labour stooge.

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