That Charles Kennedy petition…

by Stephen Tall on December 30, 2005

Over at Liberal England, Jonathan Calder flags up the absurdity of the BBC News online report that 3,300 Lib Dem party members have signed a petition calling on Charles Kennedy to quit as leader.

Jonathan signed the petition as Mickey Mouse from Cheeseborough to show how easy it would be for anyone to fake their credentials.

I though I’d give it a go as CK himself – as the picture (just about) shows – giving my name as Charles Kennedy, my home town as Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Mr Kennedy’s constituency), and my e-mail address as I clicked on ‘Submit’, and – hey, presto! – The Liberal thanked Charles Kennedy for “registering your support for this petition”. There’s one turkey seemingly voting for Christmas.

Intriguingly, The Liberal’s editor, Ben Ramm (himself a Lib Dem member), claims the 3,300 includes two MPs. I’m delighted to have been able to add a third to his tally.

Now perhaps I’m being cynical, but all this is jolly good, free publicity for The Liberal, a magazine which has absolutely no affiliation to the Liberal Democrats. (The current issue, for instance, includes articles by such liberal scions as Roy Hattersley and Matthew Parris.)

And you might have thought that such an idea might also have occurred to the BBC News journalist responsible for this emetic piece of anonymous journalism. But rather than challenge Mr Ramm to verify his figures in any credible fashion, BBC News is quite happy to repeat them verbatim because it feeds the current anti-CK media agenda.

It is ironic that this tired bit of hackery dressed up as serious political journalism should be published on the day John Humphreys voiced his concern that the pressures of 24-hour news are inhibiting politicians. Because it sure as hell seems to be inhibiting the BBC News from doing its own job properly.