A Timely Reform by Ian Ridley

Blog & web site of Ian Ridley

The Media Witch Hunt: The Truth Part 1

All sorts of half-truths and plain lies are doing the rounds in the gutter press and broadsheets. Sometimes I think Murdoch has decided to be Witchfinder General trying to destroy the Lib Dems. The time has come to introduce a little Pravda.

Myth 1: The Scotsman reports, “Simon Hughes is now out of the running for the Lib Dem leadership after revelations about his sex life, rival Chris Huhne has said.”

The lack of a direct quote from Huhne is suspicious. In fact the actual quote in the article is:

“It’s a fact that in terms of the perceptions of both journalism and the bookies it is now effectively a fairly close race between me and Ming. So to that extent that is a consequence. But it certainly is not one that I sought and I had obviously moved ahead of Mark (Oaten) before all these revelations. This was something that I very much do not want to will on the party”

So the headline should have been, “Simon Hughes is now out of the running for the Lib Dem leadership after revelations about his sex life, according to bookies and journalists.“But that might be just too accurate.

Myth 2: The Liberal/SDP Alliance ran a homophobic campaign in the 1983 Bermondsey byelection. See the BBC and several broadsheets and tabloids over the past week.

The phrase “A Straight Choice” was a standard Alliance squeeze message and used in many seats at the time. An example of the same slogan in a different by-election can be found from the the Brecon campaign in 1985, two years later.

A two horse race is more usual nowadays (see Dunfermline & West Fife literature for up-to-the minute examples).

The homophobia is just another urban myth propagated by enemies of Simon and the Liberal Democrats.

A lot of the Bermondsey byelection literature from the Alliance can be found here. The phrase “A Straight Choice” was used just once in the context of a squeeze message on a leaflet.

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