Nick Clegg “sidelined”? Erm, not quite Sam

by Stephen Tall on October 18, 2008

Fan as I am of The Times’s Sam Coates’ Red Box blog, an article today by Sam for the newspaper contains one of those Westminster Village myths which quickly establishes itself as fact unless challenged:

Some Conservatives may fret [that David Cameron has found himself sidelines during the financial crisis], but they do not have it as bad as the Liberal Democrats. Nick Clegg gave a speech on Monday morning cautioning that the crisis was an “economic 9/11”. Not a single sentence of the speech was reported in Tuesday’s papers.

Now, to be fair, I didn’t buy all of Tuesdays papers to check this out. What I did do, though, was search for “nick clegg” and “economic 9/11” on Google News. Here’s what I found: – Clegg warns of ‘economic 9/11’
Daily Mail – ‘Economic 9/11’: Financial crisis could raise new breed of extremists, warns Lib Dem leader
The Guardian – Nick Clegg warns of ‘economic 9/11’
Plus a PA report that was syndicated to well over 150 regional newspaper websites.

Actually, though, what I find slightly more disturbing is the seeming pride with which journalists sometimes note their own failure to cover politics seriously. The implication of Sam’s comment is that Nick Clegg is somehow to blame for being “sidelined”, that this shows his (and the Lib Dems’) irrelevance. Well, our political opponents are welcome to take that view if they like; that, I guess, is the normal knock-about stuff of tribal British politics.

But for the media to ignore the statements of the leader of a party with 63 MPs and which at the last election attracted some six million votes shows a pretty casual disrespect. Disagree with Nick Clegg (or David Cameron) if you will; but for the media to start making stories out of the fact that they’re failing to report what politicians are saying says more about the current state of journalism than it does about politics.

Enjoy reading this? Please like and share:


Hi Stephen,

I don’t dispute that websites, even newspaper websites, and PA reported Nick’s speech on Monday. But I wrote that no *newspaper* referred to the speech the next day, something I understand is born out by the Lib Dems own clipping service.

There is certainly no pride in the non-reporting of the speech. This was a function of the fact a lot else was going on that day. It was a fact – not meant to imply anything else.

by Sam Coates on October 18, 2008 at 1:36 pm. Reply #

Ah. The media writing about the media (Sam, not Stephen). What indulgent toss.

by Graeme on October 18, 2008 at 2:18 pm. Reply #

Hear, hear, Stephen.

by Jennie on October 18, 2008 at 2:24 pm. Reply #

“Ah. The media writing about the media (Sam, not Stephen). What indulgent toss.”

Sam _and_ Stephen, surely?

And you.

And I…

by Clegg's Candid Friend on October 18, 2008 at 2:40 pm. Reply #

Sam, you may not take any pride in the lack of reporting of Nick’s speech on this occasion. But you cannot deny that the press in general regularly trot out “analysis” that tells the Lib Dems that we have “failed” to “catch the attention of the public”, or somesuch, when this generally is to be translated as “we haven’t reported on them, because we find it dull/couldn’t be arsed/think they are irrelevant and have taken it upon ourselves to pass this judgement on to our readers”.

by Andy Hinton on October 18, 2008 at 2:52 pm. Reply #

Monday evening’s Belfast Telegraph, page 4.

Of course, that’s not “Tuesday’s papers” either, so Sam Coates remains technically correct in what he wrote.

by Bibliophylax on October 18, 2008 at 3:04 pm. Reply #

So, news reported on the internet doesn’t seem to matter… perhaps Sam is a tad behind the times.

by Stuart on October 18, 2008 at 6:30 pm. Reply #

Is it possible that people just thought “Economic 9/11” is a little crass and binned the copy ? Has the Credit crunch killed 3000 people ? Was the bank failure carried out by terrorists ? The phrases just seems to use 9/11 as a disaster analogy. I think mass murder needs a little more respect.

Anyway you can’t turn on a TV or radio without Vince Cable being on. The media have decided he is the man they want and nick is whistling in the wind.

He should leave london for the duration of the finacial crisis and tour small communities where the local rag will be pleased enought to cover him.

by Clegg's Candid Admirer on October 18, 2008 at 7:08 pm. Reply #

@CCA… well, it’s certainly not Osborne they want to hear from.

by Stuart on October 18, 2008 at 8:18 pm. Reply #

I find that of little comfort really. I’m being entirely serious. Leave the TV studios to Vince. Go on a Ashdown type tour. Visit every community that has just had a loss of jobs. At the minute all of this is just disaster Tv with lots of posh boys on TV looking at Red computer screens. most the effects of recessions are lagging indicators.

Nicks talents would be better used in the regional media at the moment trying to make the thing real.

by Clegg's Candid Admirer on October 18, 2008 at 8:32 pm. Reply #

Yes OK, journalists at their worst are a bunch of ignorant tossers who take pride in their own sloppy inadequacy. But – we’ve got to make our own luck.

“Economic 9/11” – well, that could mean anything or nothing, couldn’t it? It just sounds like cheap fireworks.

Increasingly we’re seeing comments like “why doesn’t Vince join a better party?” Vince has a consistent and coherent narrative, and a talent for gaining attention by providing useful, objective reportage alongside the political viewpoint. But Nick sounds as if he has hardly been listening.

by David Allen on October 18, 2008 at 10:02 pm. Reply #

There was certainly an article in one of London free-papers about it

by Anonymous on October 18, 2008 at 10:04 pm. Reply #

Whereas the party receives less coverage from the media than other parties we are no longer thought of as ‘a one man band’. Most people having a little interest in politics will have heard of Clegg, Cable, Huhne, Kennedy and Campbell. Coverage will not be offerred without a little risk taking. Chris Huhne’s upholding the independance of the judiciary is an example

by Stan Theed on October 19, 2008 at 3:21 pm. Reply #

Leave your comment


Required. Not published.

If you have one.