Think Tank Chief's Whinging is A Clear Sign the Political Classes are in Panic

Think Tank Chief's Whinging is A Clear Sign the Political Classes are in Panic

The head of a left-wing think tank has taken to the pages of the Guardian to publicly moan about journalists doing their job. In his bizarre diatribe which tells you more about the ineptitude of his organisation than it does the “Murdoch empire” (his words) – the chairman of Compass claims that because a think-tank meeting was not press released on, that journalists somehow had a duty to steer clear. 

Just look at some of the utter crap that Neil Lawson writes: 

  • “…a journalist or contact of the Sunday Times had sneaked in, surreptitiously recorded it all and turned it into a front-page splash” 

Yes Neil, this is “journalism”, or at least a significant part of it. Are you seriously blaming a hack for doing his job, instead of your own staff for ensuring the privacy of your event? Oh wait, yes you are: 

  • “Endeavouring to foster a welcoming atmosphere of inclusion, the Compass border guards for the event were obviously to be found wanting. Whoever “passed” the tape to the paper snuck in, didn’t reveal themselves, made the recording and snuck back out.”

Sack ’em, Neil. Your comms/security staff are obviously rubbish at their jobs. But judging by your article, so are you…

  • “Is nothing private? I’ve got images of Minority Report running through my mind, and the notion of pre-crime.”

Is this a parody? Is this an April Fool? You really think hosting a figure of public interest (John Cruddas, in this case) and then moaning that those tasked with reflecting the public interest by their editors are guilty of thought crime? Have you completely lost your marbles?

  • “What happens next? We either accept that the Murdoch empire – and maybe others – make toxic yet another level of public life and succeed in shrivelling our body politic still further. Or we make whatever stand we can.”

Please do take a stand wherever you can, Neil. This kind of ill-thought-through pile of w*nk is precisely what makes the left and the Guardian so easy to mock.

Lawson’s article struck me because a similar thing happened to me recently, when I attended a Cabinet Minister’s speech that was advertised to young Conservative Party members on Facebook. 

I went along and was allowed into the room of people who knew exactly who I was. I was introduced to said Cabinet Minister as a journalist, and he spoke freely to me with that knowledge. At no point was I told it was “off the record”, “private”, or not for reporting. Not until after my story went up, when I got a text message from his Special Advisor: “Would have appreciated a call before you ran all [my bosses] comments from private event. Thanks”. 

But the event was not “private” (the same excuse Neil Lawson gives) as it was publicly advertised, and anyone could walk in. Furthermore, I am known to the organisers, and as I say, I was introduced as a journalist before asking my questions. Somehow I’m expected to check my story with government employees before running it?

I’m afraid not. And I’m afraid this attitude is just further proof that the political classes are terrified that their entrenched positions are coming under attack from an active media and more public scrutiny. The days of journalists being servile, sycophantic, and obedient towards politicos are ending.