Category Archives: Old media

Spectator’s £26 Gateshead event proves Tories don’t get the north


Later this month The Spectator brings the latest in its series of highfalutin Debate events to Gateshead, which as many of you will know, is in the north-east of England. The event sets out to answer the question:

“Labour has failed the north-east. Why does the north-east keep voting Labour?”

Scrapbook is happy to announce that the good people of Gateshead need not bother turning up to the meeting, because the advert for the Spectator’s hilariously out of touch event adequately answers the question.

First of all, admission to the event will cost non-subscribers a whopping £26 - which in a region with the lowest average wage in the country – £50 a week below the national average – is not to be sneezed at.

As event sponsor, the right-wing magazine couldn’t think of a better choice than City of London investment firm Brewin Dolphin. Still, we expect they do a lot of business oop north.

But the final, most serious insult – sure to enrage the residents of Northumbria and Tyneside to the point of public disorder – is their arbitrary inclusion of a huge chunk of Yorkshire in their map of the North East.

Where's the North East again?

UPDATE: Scrapbook is reliably informed that Brewin Dolphin actually does have an office in Newcastle. And one in Leeds, which presumably counts as the North East, yes?

And they wonder why the Tories can’t get traction in the North?

Cookie Monster gets a grilling on Newsnight

If you, like many people, caught the very end of Newsnight upon returning from the pub last night…you may have wondered if you’d had a bit too much to drink. The show closed with the Emily Maitlis giving a grilling to the BBC’s latest star signing…Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster.

Seriously, watch.

Makes a change from Beaker, we suppose.

Left and right united: bloggers’ letter to Guardian in full

Guardian blogs letter

Here is the unedited letter to the Guardian from a diverse coalition of UK bloggers who are horrified by the government’s botched plans to regulate the internet and small publishers. The signatories include some, such as Owen Jones and Laurie Penny, whose backing was secured too late for the print edition.

Dear Editor,

The Leveson Inquiry was set up to address “the culture, practices and ethics of the press, including contacts between the press and politicians and the press and the police”. Our views diverge on whether the outcome of the Leveson process — and the plans for a new regulator — are the best way forward. But where we all agree is that current attempts at regulating blogs and other small independent news websites are critically flawed.

The government has defined a “relevant publisher” for the purposes of press regulation in a way that seeks to draft campaign groups and community-run websites covering neighbourhood planning applications and local council affairs and campaign groups into a regulator designed for the Guardian, Sun and Daily Mail.”

Even the smallest of websites will be threatened with the stick of punitive “exemplary damages” if they fall foul of a broad range of torts encompassing everything from libel to “breach of confidence”. The authors of these proposals should reflect on their remarkable achievement of uniting both Tom Watson and Rupert Murdoch in opposition.

This appears to be the outcome of a botched late-night drafting process and complete lack of consultation with bloggers, online journalists and social media users, who may now be caught in regulations which trample on grassroots democratic activity and Britain’s emerging digital economy.

Leveson was meant to be focussed on the impact of “Big Media”. In the end it may come to be seen as a damaging attack on Britain’s blogosphere, which rather than being a weakness in British politics, has proved time and time again that it is a real strength.

We will all continue to write, publish, campaign, cajole, amuse and irritate online. But we consider the current proposals a fundamental threat to doing just that.


Mark Ferguson, LabourList
Tim Montgomerie, ConservativeHome
Stephen Tall, LibDemVoice
Laurence Durnan, Political Scrapbook
Paul Staines, Editor, Guido Fawkes’ Blog
Laurie Penny, New Statesman
Owen Jones, Independent columnist and blogger
Nick Pickles, Director, Big Brother Watch
Jim Killock, Executive Director, Open Rights Group
Harry Cole, Guido Fawkes’ blog
David Hencke, Exaro
Sunny Hundal, Liberal Conspiracy
James Bloodworth, Left Foot Forward
Alex Wickham, The Commentator
Adam Bienkov, Snipe London and Kidbrooke Kite
Neal Lawson, Compass
Emma Burnell, Scarlet Standard
Luke Akehurst, Luke’s Blog

As with the letter’s reference to Tom Watson and Rupert Murdoch, getting those signatories to stop hating on each other for enough time to agree on anything is a minor miracle.

Ten reasons why the government’s blog regulation plans won’t work

Scrapbook supports the Leveson process and helped co-ordinate the advertising boycott campaign which pushed the News Of The World over the edge. But this week’s attempts to force the blogosphere into a regulator at the last minute are the legislative equivalent of Pedigree Chum. Here’s why:

1: Lord Leveson’s inquiry and the policy process which followed didn’t look at the question of independent blogs and small publishers. This legislation tries to sneak poorly scrutinised regulation of the web in at the last minute.

2: Botched drafting means that tiny blogs and community websites would be a dragged into a regulator designed for the mainstream media. Three local activists who use Google advertising to pay their £10-per-month server fees on their community blog would be lumped in with The Sun and Daily Mail.

3: Even leading reform campaigners such as Tom Watson and Hacked Off oppose the inclusion of the blogosphere.

4: The plans alienate online supporters of the Leveson process and press reform.

5: The proposals are so vague that lawyers have claimed much of the legislation will have to be thrashed out in the courts to create case law  — at great expense.

6: In contrast with the Leveson process, for which the mainstream media and government have been in dialogue for months, there has been no consultation whatsoever with the blogosphere and small publishers.

7: Bloggers will likely be forced to pay for “associate membership” of the new regulator at which the mainstream media have formal participation but small publishers do not.

8: The internet has been described as a “Wild West” which needs “a sherrif” — but this legislation would not address recent controversies caused by rogue individuals e.g. smears against Lord McAlpine.

9: The plans cover libel and slander but can also mean “exemplary damages” could be awarded for  such offences as “breach of confidence” and “misuse of private information” — potentially closing door on legitimate, public interest leaks and whistleblowing.

10: Policymakers from outside the Westminster village who have bothered to engage with blogs have been impressed with the processes put in place by bloggers to handle complaints regarding content.

The deadline for the government to amend or withdraw the plans is 3pm.

Plans for media regulator include ‘associate membership’ for blogs

Keyboard macro

Policymakers working on plans for a new media regulator are drafting proposals for blogs to undertake “associate membership” the successor to the Press Complaints CommissionPolitical Scrapbook understands.

Options being considered as an outcome of a process which predates this week’s shock proposals that many blogs should be regulated include:

  • A lower or nominal membership fee for blogs in comparison to newspapers and broadcasters
  • Simplified set of obligations/requirements, which would include having clear internal processes to deal with complaints
  • Possible representation for bloggers on the new body

With a new body being funded by newspapers and broadcasters, media corporations are understood to be opposed to free membership for blogs and/or comprehensive access to services provided.

The draft proposals echo 2011 comments from Press Complaints Commission chairman Lord Hunt in which he suggested a “kitemark” was necessary to tame the “wild west” blogosphere:

“I want accuracy to be the new gold standard for blogs. Once they have agreed to be accurate, everything would follow from that. I would like to see a ‘Kitemark’ on the best blogs so the public can trust what they read in them.”

While the mainstream media have had comprehensive lobbying operations up and running for months, almost no effort was made to consult the blogosphere before surprise amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill widened the scope of proposed regulation.

Blogs across the spectrum, including Political Scrapbook, would be classified as “relevant publishers” under new proposals:

(1) In sections [Awards of exemplary damages] to [Awards of costs], “relevant publisher” means a person who, in the course of a business (whether or not carried on with a view to profit), publishes news-related material—
(a) which is written by different authors, and
(b) which is to any extent subject to editorial control.

Outlets such as Guido Fawkes have already pledged to resist any attempts at regulation.

With policymaking on the hoof and a failure to engage with bloggers, however, the mainstream parties have done their utmost to offend even those who might be open to the new arrangements.

Nick Griffin and the Daily Mail: in agreement over black juries

With the Daily Mail suggesting yesterday that the Vicky Pryce speeding points trial collapsed because the jury were black, the only public figure to back the paper has been, errrr, Nick Griffin:

Perhaps he would be a good fit for a column?

Daily Mail suggests Vicky Pryce trial collapsed ‘because jury were black’

Daily Mail spread on Vicky Pryce

The Daily Mail has appeared to suggest the ethnicity of jurors in the Vicky Pryce trial had bearing on their failure to reach a verdict yesterday.

Their spread on the case runs on pages 4 and 5 of this morning’s paper. Alongside a news article and a comment from Melanie Phillips headlined “Do we need IQ tests for juries” is a box entitled “Eight women, four men … and no clue”. It begins:

“Of the eight women and four men on the Vicky Pryce jury, only two were white — the rest appeared to be of Afro-Caribbean or Asian origin.”

The fact that one of the jurors may have been a Muslim was also a problem for the Mail:

“At least twice, the court finished 30 minutes early because a jury member had a ‘religious observance’ to keep.”

Vicky Pryce trial Daily Mail

Just when you thought they couldn’t stoop any lower …

Michael Winner (1935-2013) slams Richard Littlejohn homophobia

For all the B-movies and crappy commercialsScrapbook’s favourite memory of Michael Winner — who died today aged 77 — will be his comprehensive demolition of Richard Littlejohn for homophobia on the columnist’s own Live and Uncut TV show in 1994:

“I’m quite appalled and very nearly walked out to be on a British television programme where lesbians are wheeled in for you to make smutty and offensive remarks to [audience applauds].”

“I think it was an absolutely shameful exhibition of vulgarity directed toward a minority. I think the lesbians have come over with considerable dignity and you’ve come over as an arsehole.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

  • Follow us on Twitter