Monday, July 25, 2016

more about the absence of any sort of plot re #Corbyn

Various bits about Corbyn and Labour Leadership will be in this blog because else the #EUref blog will be out of proportion. I still think the rewriting of referendum story as part of the leadership story is interesting but not so interesting to forget what the blog was about to start with.

Anyway here is a quote from Liz McInnes MP found through a tweet by Polly Toynbee.

Since my resignation I have been bombarded with conspiracy theories from some of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters. I would like to confirm that I was not bullied into standing down, as some would have it. I have not been offered a job/promotion or any other incentive, another favourite conspiracy theory. Nor was I ‘got at’ by plotters, indeed I am unaware of any plot ever having existed. The series of resignations appeared to be an organic process triggered by the sacking of Hilary Benn, leading to members of the shadow cabinet considering their own position and making their own decisions. Some of them, like my colleagues Lilian Greenwood and Thangam Debbonaire, have since written very eloquently about their own experiences of Jeremy’s leadership. Their accounts are shocking and, knowing both Lillian and Thangam, I have no reason to doubt them.

This is where I find things hard to believe. Repeating previous blogs I get the early versions of newspapers in Exeter. Both Observer and Sunday Times had stories of  a move or whatever you want to call it against Corbyn with the Hilary Benn name very clearly reported. Later stories seemed to start with Benn being sacked for no clear reason. I do not see how any leader could allow the stories to be published as first appeared without doing something.

Later we are told that Hilary Benn was not the source of either story. So who was then? No plot, no coup , just a series of personal decisions made on the spur of the moment without any long term plan. Surely not.

This is just a blog so I have n way to find out other than ask questions. Not sure who reads this anyway. Somebody at either the Sunday Times or Observer might have a rough idea of how things come to happen. It was not that long ago.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

more investigation please @guardian #plot #coup

Having read much of today print Guardian there are a few things I would like checked out.

Decca Aitkenhead for interview with Len McCluskey puts a couple of words or phrases into quote marks-

"the plotters" and "Blairite grandees" as if these terms were about something imagined or made up for some spurious motivation.

I am still trying to make sense of proper journalism such as the Guardian given what I know from tweets and links.

For example this video, uploaded to YouTube by Portland Communications on 30th June

There is not a complete plot here. Other than regime change, the phase when Corbyn might not have gone is a bit vague, but there is mention of possible candidates and it is hard not to imagine that someone from Portland has not had conversations.

Corbyn heckles as reported on BBC news turn out to be from individuals connected with Portland and the Lib Dems. I am assuming this as fact based on tweets. I realise response to this blog is asking a bit much but I have not seen any refutation of these facts in main stream media. So the attack on Corbyn came very fast after the EUref result.

Steve Richards suggests the attempts at a coup were uncoordinated. This may be true but is hard to believe. He writes that Hilary Benn had nothing to do with the reports in the Observer ( also Sunday Times but not mentioned in Guardian) . In Exeter I think I get the earliest version of the papers. Later ones from what I hear reported a sacking for no good reason. From the story I saw I don't think Corbyn had any alternative. How did the story happen?

Recently there has been a well funded campaign by #savingLabour though no info about who this is or where the money comes from. the Daily Mirror did have some info but not followed up in more recent stories.

Angela Eagle had a website registered some days before she decided to run. Maybe this was just another PR being over hasty? but again how could this happen?

I am often half asleep when listening to the Today prog but I just about remember a suggestion that words like #plot and #coup could be seen as bullying if linked to the PLP in a tweet. Well all I can suggest is that in the absence of transparency speculation is more possible and imagination can take various forms.

Anyway, Steve Richards is surely right that there can be some sort of Third Way. Possibly what Corbyn actually said during the #EURef will be reported, discussed and amended. Something like that is clearly needed as part of the post BREXIT debate. So more on this later.

But meanwhile I find the idea that recent events were just a series of isolated decisions without any awareness of a series of consequences to be actually more shocking than the theory around #plot and #coup.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Daily Mirror has info on #savingLabour

I rushed into too many tweets yesterday about the lack of reporting on #savingLabour. Had the info come in a different order I would not have been so blunt about the Daily Mirror. I found it a bit strange to report J.K.Rowling as a supporter of #savingLabour when there is no information at all on who organises it or how it is funded.

I later found a Mirror report from 7th July that names Reg Race as having a connection with an address linked to the website.

 asked if he was the sole person involved with the site, he said: "Absolutely not - it's a whole bunch of people".he said the group was planning to announce more about itself in due course. 
but as far as I can tell this aspect of investigation has not featured in more recent stories. It is interesting that Reg Race has a connection with the NHS
He is a director of Quality Health Limited, the country's biggest provider of NHS staff surveys working for 360 health trusts.
Despite being listed as the managing director on the firm's website, Dr Race said he is now retired and the information is out of date.

given the concerns about Owen Smith in the Times it is surprising that more journalists are not interested in this situation.
Search on Twitter will reveal speculation. But in fairness to Fleet Street it should be acknowledged that the Daily Mirror is on the case.
Meanwhile the Guardian has several pages in G2 with an update from the SDP years with some guidance on which groups may support Corbyn. However nothing about #savingLabour at all that I can find. Still, the leadership campaign has only just started and the Guardian has a lot of space to fill.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Guardian advertising standards, who is @savingLabour ? , journalism as curiosity @ewenmacaskill

Blog post expands on tweets from last week and weekend.

I realise there is general interest in data protection and various groups connected to the Labour Party. However I am concentrating on @savingLabour as it is still a mystery. I am surprised that there seems to be nothing in mainstream media explaining it.

Today there is an ad in the print version of The Guardian, bottom of page three. No address is shown. From the website also there is no address or way to locate any named person.

Couple of questions anyone might consider. Has the Guardian got any standards or guidance that might relate as in what sort of advertising it includes? If it was for an election I think the promoting agent should be identified. Has the Labour Party got any views?

Second question, is any of this of interest for mainstream media? @savingLabour clearly has some funding. Who are they? Where is the funding coming from?

To simplify, the Guardian seems to have two voices - most staff columnists well connected to London PR, and then @ewenmacaskill on an occasional trip to Liverpool with the help of Guardian readers. There may be interested Guardian readers even closer to King's Cross.

Search on Twitter reveals several links to supposed information about @savingLabour . But we live in times of challenged facts and speculation about the motivation of the twitterers. There is value in proper journalists checking out this sort of thing, possibly with public support.

Could truth turn up in a tweet?

Only time will tell.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Who is #savingLabour ? clues please, project for Guardian readers?

Reading the Observer and watching Sunday Politics I gather that social media is facing a reputation problem. Andre Neil suggests the Labour Party is now the Nasty Party, based entirely on what is said about the tweets.

My guess is that the conversation would be less heated if there was some answers to the questions and a bit of transparency. Words like "coup" and "plot" are used to describe something that seems to be happening even though the leadership is obscure.

BBC has not as far as I know investigated the heckles they reported. Tweets suggest they were linked to Portland Communications and the Lib Dems. Both were part of suggestions that Corbyn has lost support because of the EU referendum so could be seen as setup for later moves. But no mainstream fact check so far. That would have cleared the air but I have to say my guess is that the claims about Portland Communications and the Lib Dems are probably true as far as the heckles go, at least about the connections. No evidence of a sustained plot but nothing reassuring in the BBC reporting.

So I think it should be public who is backing #savingLabour. If it is true that they are paying for Facebook ads, where is the money coming from? i am not alone in this. Search Twitter on the #savingLabour tag and you find similar queries.

I find the Guardian quite hard to predict. They probably will publish opinions close to the PLP. But they also send intrepid reporters to Liverpool and welcome contributions by readers.    @ewenmacaskill Maybe they will find the answer. Or it will just turn up on Twitter.

It is clear who is supporting #savingLabour from tweets by Ben Bradshaw and @ChukaUmunna so this is welcome. What I find disturbing is a project on this scale without any clarity at all on how it is organised, who is involved, or where the money comes from.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Corbyn balance depends on scale and print version of @guardian

If you look carefully on the Guardian website you can find some reporting of the views of local Labour Party members when they happen to be also Guardian readers. It is very much different to what you might find in print.  PLP secret discussions were all I could find in the printed version.

Even as lobby journalism there are some unanswered questions. Extract from linked article

Smith said he was not prepared to see Labour split, did not take part in a coup orchestrated by those on the right of the party and would never be part of any breakaway faction.

Well, could he say a bit more? Could he name names? What right wing coup? Somehow the reporting of the PLP is usually with anonymous sources and very discreet until the charismatic leader emerges.

Meanwhile Ewen MacAskill is retweeted with reporting on an actual motion. Repeating my previous tweet, this is normal procedure not a bullying tweet or whatever is often claimed in mainstream media. 

So this situation remains hard to assess. There is a fringe part of the Guardian that relates to what I recognise online as apparently close to local membership. But the print bit is still in the lobby. Not sure what the scale of any of this is in actual numbers round the UK. Time will tell.

Future of print newspapers and social media looks more certain.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Update on Corbyn and Guardian

My guess is that this story about Eagle was written in London. It appears like a lobby sort of thing.

Whereas this story from Liverpool is much closer to what you may find on Twitter. Ewan MacAskill has previously asked for help from Guardian readers. Not sure how this is working out .

But there seems to be a divergence, lobby journalists at one end and online at another.

I am interested in what Corbyn has to say and disturbed how badly he is reported. But this situation is also of interest just as a test of social media sort of surviving in a mainstream context.

Twitter not an echo chamber btw. Many stories of bullying and soforth coming from sustained tweet campaigns in newspapers and tv. So far "bullying" term not applied to those keeping others off the ballot. But will this help to calm things down?

Normal practice on moderation suggests some response to concerns and a flow of information.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Corbyn reporting could be a tipping point for Guardian

There is some balance but in general the Guardian seems pretty much with the PLP and worried about the bullying from social media, Twitter and Facebook etc. There was a sort of counter last week, David Graeber on why the elites hate Momentum. But this is rare and not written by the staff regulars. Graeber sees the Corbyn social media as a threat both to Westminster politics and the normal role of journalists.

Since the leadership election has been clearly going to happen there has been increased coverage of the supposed bullying nature of tweets from Corbyn supporters. I am not a member of the Labour Party but I have been struck by the misleading reporting of Corbyn during the referendum. I am concerned that the views he represents continue to be fairly represented.

The Guardian is losing print circulation and hopes to find a business model online. See previous posts for facts and comment about Guardian Unlimited Talk. Briefly, they scrapped the original social media and then Comment is Free seems increasingly intended for a smaller group of writers with comments not much welcomed. Now the rude nature of Twitter land is a frequent theme for the columnists. this is getting a bit out of proportion.

I still read the print version of the Guardian, but mostly just to see how things are spun and which bits of online will turn up. If Twitter is the most reliable way to find the content that interests me then I suppose print will be less compelling in normal times.

If the Guardian continues online I really do hope there is some thought about how the people that tweet are represented. they may be the same people who are supposed to check the website.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Hello @emilybell not just liking tweets, more complicated than that

My blog posts are getting spread out over several blogs, well at least three. May sort this out after my break at the end of this week.

Meanwhile links to two recent ones. EU referendum post mostly about the Guardian and another one about Chilcot to be updated later.

Emily Bell today seems to claim that the online aspect is the cause of a lack of fact in the Brexit situation.

Not sure this is true. Guardian seems to have decided long ago that Corbyn is a loser sobest to get rid of him, My take is that his campaign was strong, just not reported by @guardian and others who might be expected to. Sundayt Mirror print version, not sure if this is available wherever Emily Bell is, was a reminder of how Corbyn could be presented. Guardian was just negative, always an anonymous opposite comment and that is just the PLP leave aside how the BBC will add to it.

I lost trust with the heckles. One might be from @portlandcomms another from a Lib Dem. Lots of suggestions on Twitter. But no official fact check or refutation on mainstream media. So I continue to believe the tweets on balance, whjatever I see on @BBCNewsnight.

@guardian now has a reporting trip to Liverpool and social media or some sort of crowd sourcing. Shows slightly different result to the take from columnists in the "lobby" . Emily Bell please consider how this comes over for the average punter.

No surprise that Corbyn is direct on social media, breaking now as they say.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Guardian readers invited to citizen journalism, could be too late

I bought the paper and have now found the online version. Apparently Guardian readers will become members and then help to report on what Guardian readers think.  In print on  a Saturday. Surveys show anger at sniping by MPs. Thing is, we have no idea who these MPs actually are. The leader may be Eagle or maybe someone else much the same but joined after Iraq votes. Is there anger at Guarcian journalists who build stories and comment around the supposed views of these MPs ? Could you guess from the comments on opinion? Polly Toynbee is upset at the comments on an opinion from Gaby Hinsliff. Why not consider the feedback as if it may be valid in some sense or possibility? Or just have a look at Twitter as if some of it might link to accurate info?

My guess is that the balance of Guardian journalism will stay much the same, the print sales will decline, the online approach will not adjust. Hope I'm wrong of course.