LDV survey: what party members think of the media reporting of Kennedy and the Coalition

by Stephen Tall on August 29, 2010

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of a variety of key issues, and what you make of the Lib Dems’ and Government’s performance to date. Almost 600 party members have responded, and we’ll be publishing the full results of our survey in the next few days.

A week ago, the news media’s silly season alighted on a suggestion that Charles Kennedy was about to defect to Labour, and flogged the story for all it was worth.

LDV asked: The news media this past weekend was dominated by suggestions – which appear to have emanated from the campaigns of one of the Labour leadership contenders – that Charles Kennedy was about to defect from the Lib Dems to Labour. The story was immediately dismissed by Charles and the party. Which of the following statements do you agree with:

    72% – This was no more than mischief-making by Labour. The media should have known better than to run with the story without credible sources.
    18% – This was a plausible story regardless of the source, so it’s understandable the news media chose to print/broadcast it.
    4% – Other
    6% – Don’t know / No opinion

These comments sum up the views expressed:

  • The rush to be first to a factually inaccurate story is a race to show your paper employs the most incompetent, gullible idiots.
  • I think it is likely to be a PR stunt by the Labour party, but like all good stories, it probably has an element of truth to it.
  • Anyone who knows Charles will understand why it is untrue but also why it came about!
  • The CK defection story was just the latest in a long line of negative media stories about the Lib Dems… so LDV asked what our sample of party members felt about our press:

    How accurate and balanced do you think media coverage of the Liberal Democrats has been since the formation of the Coalition?

    57% – Inaccurate and unbalanced: the media has done its job poorly and given an unfair account of the Lib Dems in government.
    37% – Okay: there has been reasonable coverage and it has been generally accurate.
    3% – Accurate and balanced: the media has done its job well and given a fair account of the Lib Dems in government.
    4% – Don’t know / No opinion

    A majority of members in our survey, therefore, think the media is doing a bad job of reporting how the Lib Dems are doing in government. However, a pretty high 40% of members reckon the coverage is okay or better than okay – a figure which surprised me, if I’m honest. Here’s a selection of your comments:

  • If anything the party has been weak at getting a message across that the Lib Dems remain a distinct party within government. We have been too ready to defend without reservation some decisions, rather than say that we are reluctant to do so but that is the price of stable government through coalition.
  • The media is undeniably, but barely understandably hostile to the Lib Dems; carrying nothing positive; willfully misrepresenting facts, decison making and our position; and talking up internal splits and splits in coalition with no real basis from my experience with reality of members, voters or public opinion.
  • They seem obsessed by the possibility of the Coalition failing – now, or next week, or whenever. No analysis of what the Governmen is actually DOING – just more personality politics of the lowest common denominator variety. I have been genuinely disappointed by the poor quality of critical analysis by the Media.
  • Don’t take this as a whinge about unfairness. The media, especially the print media and its online offshoots, are always inaccurate and unbalanced, in more senses than one. The Lib Dems aren’t necessarily treated worse than others in that respect.
  • The press are wholeheartedly targetting the LibDems to cause damage and undermine the party. There is no tripartisan spirit in the press.
  • There has been some good reporting but it’s been few and far between. The left (Guardian) is particularly vicious towards the Lib Dems
  • It is becoming more difficult to justify and support a majority of the coalitions policies and decisions
    It’s a new world for the press and of course they’re going to attack and seek to find divisions. This is the real world and when we learn to understand it better and work with it rather than grumble, we’ll do better.
  • You can access all the results of past Lib Dem Voice surveys of party members here.