Clegg asserts Lib Dems’ ‘hung parliament’ equidistance. (The headline you won’t read in today’s papers).
by Stephen Tall on November 23, 2009
It’s a long time since LDV has carried a ‘Media Moron Watch’ feature … but if we were still running it, the spoils today would be shared by pretty much every newspaper. Here are the headlines from the so-called quality press today:
- Clegg rules out election deal with Labour (FT)
- Liberal Democrats offer Cameron hung parliament deal (Telegraph)
- Nick Clegg dents Labour hopes of Lib-Lab alliance (Guardian)
- Clegg reveals Lib Dems are prepared to back Cameron (Indy)
From which headlines a disinterested reader would conclude the following: Nick Clegg has categorically ruled out doing a deal with Labour and opened the door to a deal with the Tories.
Now let’s compare those headlines with what Nick Clegg actually said on BBC1’s Andrew Marr show yesterday:
I think it is an inevitable fact, it is just stating the obvious, the party which has got the strongest mandate from the British people will have the first right to seek to govern. I start from a very simple first principle: it is not Gordon Brown or David Cameron or Nick Clegg who are kingmakers in British politics, it’s the British people. Whichever party have the strongest mandate from the British people … have the first right to seek to try and govern, either on their own or with others.”
How any thinking journalist can translate Nick’s crystal clear statement of equidistance into spurious Clegg-backs-Tories mis-reporting is beyond me.
Personally, I am delighted with Nick’s statement. It has long baffled me that the party has declined to adopt what seems to me the simplest approach for dealing with the interminable ‘hung Parliament’ question – to say we’ll respect the decision of the electorate and talk to whichever party wins the most votes.
‘Maximum votes, maximum seats’ might be a good slogan for a party conference, but it just sounds evasive when tested in media interviews. The new, common-sense approach is, to my mind, to be warmly welcomed. Even if it has been distorted by a media with its own agenda.