Tag Archives: David Cameron

YouGov accuses blogger of libel over polling allegations

Former diplomat and blogger Craig Murray has been accused of libel by polling company YouGov.

YouGov is unhappy with what it claims are defamatory allegations made by Murray about its leaders’ debate poll and its CEO, Stephan Shakespeare.

Murray has as yet not removed the posts in question and has also reproduced the letter his ISP reportedly received from YouGov’s lawyers, on his blog.  We contacted YouGov’s lawyer, Dan Tench at Olswang LLP, this morning.

“We have written to Mr Murray stating that he has published serious false and defamatory allegations regarding Mr Shakespeare and YouGov and asked him to remove them,” YouGov told Journalism.co.uk, via its lawyer.  “We still hope that he will do so.”

We asked why it was pursuing this action: “Mr Murray has made serious false and defamatory allegations regarding Mr Shakespeare and YouGov.  He has not sought to substantiate these allegations at all.  Mr Shakespeare and YouGov understandably want these allegations to be taken down.

“We will continue to press Mr Murray to remove these allegations.  If this is unsuccessful, we may have no option but to approach the webhost once again and ask in light of Mr Murray’s wholly  irresponsible actions, to take down the allegations.  We hope very much that that will not be necessary.”

Index on Censorship also reports on the incident at this link…

Will the leader’s election debates engage first time voters?

Elizabeth Davies is a freelance journalist and recent graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. She reviews the first of the Leaders’ Debates and asks: can the format engage young, first time voters? This post is also featured on her blog.

The BBC grandiosely declared Thursday 15 May to be “the day the skies went quiet”. It was not, unfortunately, because the entire population was glued to ITV’s broadcast of the first of the Leaders’ Debates. It was because a great plume of plane-endangering volcanic ash was infiltrating our airspace, just at a time when news organisations were doing their best to provide audiences with nothing but wall-to-wall debate ‘preview’ pieces.

I was not glued to my television, but only because I don’t have one. Like a significant fraction of the population – a fraction dominated by young first-time voters like myself – I chose to watch the debate online. Unfortunately the quality of ITV’s live stream made it difficult to remain captivated for long. It’s one thing to engage with social media to encourage meaningful online discussion, but quite another to slap so many cursory widgets on the page that no-one is able to load anything.

I’m not a great case study for a first-time voter, merely because I am such a political geek that I watched all of the US presidential primary debates live online back in those days before anyone had heard of Sarah Palin. That does, however, make me something of an expert in pre-election debates.

Last month, following BBC Three’s First Time Voters’ Question Time, I suggested that the Leaders’ Debates were the kind of media spectacle needed to engage young voters in the political process. On that front, ITV failed spectacularly.

Alastair Stewart was a poor choice of moderator, too little known among the country’s young voters to really fire them up. The studio, along with David Cameron, looked like it would drag us back to the 1980s, and the directing suggested one of the cameramen was frequently having a kind of spasm.

Those visual things matter, superficial as they are, because they make the difference in the split second that someone decides to check out what’s happening rather than flicking over to a Friends re-run. That difference is particularly pronounced when you’re trying to engage those who’ve never had the opportunity to vote before; those who are registered in record low numbers and who might proudly attest to not being interested in politics because it’s boring.

Aside from the lack of glamour, the format was a failure. The questions selected for the debate were insipid, formulaic and, frankly, boring. David Cameron told ITN that he worried the debates would be “slow and sluggish”. Never one to fail to deliver on a promise, Cameron himself ensured the debate was both slow and sluggish by displaying almost no personality whatsoever. Gordon Brown performed much better than I expected, but Ipsos Mori’s ‘worm’ showed dial groups just don’t warm to what he’s saying.

It was Nick Clegg’s debate, and the snap polls seem to back that up. He came across largely as a normal human being – impassioned, but not in a fake politician-type way, and as someone whose own frustrations with the current political situation reflected those of the electorate. It is plausible that a significant number of voters who claimed previously to be “undecided” will now be telling the pollsters they’re climbing into the Lib Dem camp. But if the remaining debates are similar to the first, how many of those will be 18 to 25 year olds?

Cameron’s fear that TV debates might be ‘slow and sluggish’ (video)

Conservative leader David Cameron has expressed concern that the televised leader debates, the first of which will be aired on ITV at 8.30pm tonight, could be “slow and sluggish”. He’s worried, he told ITN News, that the public might feel “short-changed.”

We’ll see. But if he prefers fast-paced and high pressure television, why has he refused to appear on a Panorama Special – an election tradition – with Jeremy Paxman?

David Cameron to give Hugo Young lecture

Conservative leader David Cameron is to give the sixth annual Hugo Young memorial lecture on Tuesday 10 November, the Scott Trust has announced.

The lecture remembers the late Hugo Young, the Guardian’s senior political commentator and former chairman of the Scott Trust, who died in 2003. Last year Young’s papers were published in a book, extracts of which appeared on the Guardian. ‘His columns were like icebergs. Readers saw a sunlit tip of crystal argument. They may have guessed, but they never truly knew or saw, what lay beneath,’ wrote the Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, in its foreword.

Last year’s lecture was given by Peter Mandelson and previous speakers include Gordon Brown and Jose Manuel Barroso.

“Hugo was one of the most brilliant and cherished journalists of his generation. We are delighted that the memorial lecture continues to be successful and to remind us of his enduring legacy,” said Liz Forgan, chair of the Scott Trust, in a release.

Jon Bernstein: Sorry Guido, the BBC did for Duncan

Three high-profile political figures mired in controversy, two thrown out of their jobs, one suffering a humiliating demotion – all thanks to internet activists of differing political hues from green to darkest blue.

Hang your heads in shame video-sting victim Alan Duncan, and Smeargate’s Derek Draper and Damian McBride. Take a bow Tim Montgomerie, Guido Fawkes, and Heydon Prowse.

But was it really the web wot done it? I’m not so sure.

Or at least I don’t think the web could have done it without the traditional media, television news and newspapers in particular.

Clearly this is at odds with Guido’s reading of the situation.

Writing on his blog this morning yesterday Paul Staines (for it is he) asks who forced Alan Duncan from his role as shadow leader of the House of Commons.

Not Tory leader David Cameron, that’s for sure. Rather it was the unlikely pairing of Tim Montgomerie and Heydon Prowse, ‘the blogosphere’s shepherd of the Tory grassroots and the angry young man with a video-cam’.

Of Prowse, who filmed Duncan on the terrace talking of ‘rations’ in the wake of the MPs’ expenses scandal, Guido notes:

“Heydon Prowse, who is he? He just destroyed the career of a greasy pole climbing Westminster slitherer. No house-trained political nous, no insight, in fact a little naive. He still did it.”

And Guido is in no doubt what this means in the wider context:

“The news is now disintermediated.”

The same applies, apparently, to the sacking of Damian McBride and Derek Draper, both prime ministerial advisors in their time. McBride and Draper were outed for their parts in a plot to use a pseudo-activist blog to spread rumours about various high-profile Tories.

The emails incriminating the two men found their way to Guido/Staines, and were in turn picked up by the media.

(Ironically, the site was meant to be the left’s answer to right-wing blogosphere attack-dogs, Guido among them.)

This week saw the story take another twist. Would-be smear victim Nadine Dorries MP carried out a threat to sue Draper and McBride and enlisted the help of Guido and fellow blogger Tory Bear to be servers of writs.

No one is doubting the origin of both stories, nor the journalistic craft in exposing the men at the heart of them. But it took the mainstream media to push these events into the public consciousness, into the mainstream.

And it took the attentions of the mainstream media to effect the sackings and demotion.

On the day it broke, the Duncan story led the BBC 10 o’clock News and featured prominently on other channels. In the ensuing 48 hours it spawned dozens of national press stories – the Daily Star went for ‘Dumb and Duncan’, The Mirror for ‘Duncan Donut’, others were more po-faced – as well as leader comments, opinion pieces and letters.

The coverage continued into the weekend and despite Duncan’s very swift apology and Cameron’s initial willingness to draw a line under events (“Alan made a bad mistake. He has acknowledged that, he has apologised and withdrawn the remarks.”) the drip, drip of media focus eventually forced the Tory leader to act.

It was a similar pattern with Smeargate.

Would PM Gordon Brown and Cameron have acted if these had remained just web stories? Not in 2009.

Is the news disintermediated? Not yet. Instead we have a symbiotic – if dysfunctional – relationship between the blogosphere and the traditional media.

The latter fears and dismisses the former in equal measure, but increasingly relies on it to take the temperature of various constituent parts of society and, yes, to source stories. Guido is such a good conduit through which to leak precisely because the media reads him.

The former, meanwhile, is disparaging about the latter (sometimes for good reason) but nonetheless needs it to vindicate its journalistic endeavours.

A final twist to the Alan Duncan story. Heydon Prowse offered Guido first refusal on his secret video recording back in June. Guido turned it down. “D’oh!” he later wrote in a confessional blog post.

Guido always has the good grace to admit when he’s goofed, as he did earlier this year over James Purnell’s fictitious leadership bid.

Will he accept with equally good grace that the mainstream media were a vital ingredient in the sackings and demotion of McBride, Draper and Duncan?

Jon Bernstein is former multimedia editor of Channel 4 News. This is part of a series of regular columns for Journalism.co.uk. You can read his personal blog at jonbernstein.wordpress.com.

Event: Reuters hosts social media Q&A with Lib Dem’s Nick Clegg – take part!

On Monday (July 13) Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will take part in a public question and answer session with a difference.

Clegg will respond to questions solicited via a range of social media sites in a livestreamed event – something that the politician himself has described as changing ‘the way we do politics’.

The event is the latest in a series of sessions subjecting high-profile figures in the world of politics and business to social media scrutiny – but previous participants, including Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Bob Zoellick, used the q&a session as a follow-up to a speech. Clegg will just be responding to questions from the public and online audience.

Journalism.co.uk is going to co-host part of the proceedings – it’s a great opportunity for us to see how Reuters runs these events and why and how they are opening it up/distributing it in this way.

How to get involved:
According to Reuters, nothing is off limits. If you want to put a question to Clegg before or during the event, you can:

Clegg has posed some questions of his own on 12 Seconds; or perhaps you’d like to challenge his statements on the war in Afghanistan?

How to follow the event:
There will be a live video stream of the event on the Journalism.co.uk Editors’ blog and on the Reuter’s hosting page. You can also follow some of the event on the Reuters New Editors Twitter channel.

Journalism.co.uk will attempt to aggregate some of the tweets around the event as well as featuring coverage on @journalism_live.

Any other suggestions of how you’d like us to cover it – please chip in.

Reuters.co.uk: Put your questions to David Cameron via Twitter now

Reuters is hosting an interview with David Cameron via Twitter. This morning (Monday), from 10am, the Conservative party leader David Cameron is talking about the economy and the credit crunch at Thomson Reuters’ Canary Wharf office and his speech will be followed by a question and answer session. Users of Twitter can use the tag #askDC to put questions to Cameron, and Reuters will monitor all the responses. The questions are already coming in. The Reuters Newsmaker can be used to track all proceedings.

Cameron calls for restraints on BBC’s commercial operations, supports local media

At the Annual Newspaper Conference Lunch on Tuesday David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party was quick to criticise the ‘crushing’ power of the BBC.

The comments were made at the annual Newspaper Conference lunch, reported on the Newspaper Society’s website.

Addressing members of the Newspaper Conference, a body administrated by the Newspaper Society, made up of 20 regional press journalists and based in Westminster, Cameron insisted further restraints should be put on the BBC’s commercial operations.

“They [the BBC] have got to bear in mind that when they enter new markets, they are often in danger of crushing with the great big foot of the BBC enterprise, entrepreneurship and risk and capital that other organisations have put into those areas,” he said.

“Things like what they have been doing in education, some of the things they’ve been doing [sic] online, their plans for video on demand, and some of what they’ve been doing in competition with local newspapers, those are the things where they should be restrained,” said the Conservative leader

The BBC’s regulatory body, the BBC Trust also came under fire:

“I’d also like to see them [the BBC] regulated more in the way of other commercial television companies. I know the BBC Trust is an improvement on the old form of government but to me independent regulation has got to be independent.

“I still don’t really understand how you can partly be regulated by the BBC Trust, which is you, and partly by Ofcom. It doesn’t make sense.”

Speaking to the Newspaper Conference members, Cameron praised regional newspapers referring to them as being ‘valuable in terms of the health of a combative democracy’.

BBC offers aggregation service with Topics pages

Following the review of bbc.co.uk in which the BBC Trust criticised the lack of internal navigation on the site, the Beeb has launched a beta aggregation service.

BBC Topics, which will have automatically updated pages, will cover people, countries or subjects.

“So topics uses a variety of search techniques to create feeds of the latest BBC content from news articles, programmes available to watch on iPlayer, weather forecasts, news videos, country profiles and information from the TV and radio schedules. BBC editors then add in hand-picked articles and features from around the BBC and other websites,” said Matthew McDonnell, portfolio executive, search and navigation, internet group, BBC Future Media and Technology, on the BBC Internet Blog.

The pages will present everything the BBC has on a certain topic, whether it is in or out of the news, McDonnell added.

Topics covered will be partly chosen in relation to the site’s search logs, as well as by what content is available.

Feeds to the pages from external sources are also in development, according to the blog post, which will please the Trust, who said the site should also be acting as a guide for users to outside content.

Only a few topics are being trialled so far, including China, David Cameron, NATO and dogs, but more will be added in the coming months, as will more forms of BBC content.

Innovations in Journalism – Hubdub.com

Image of hubdub

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?

My name is Nigel Eccles and I’m Chief News Junkie at Hubdub.

Hubdub is a news forecaster that allows users to compete in predicting how news stories will turn out.

The system takes all the users predictions and generates a forecast of how that story will conclude. Users that are successful in predicting news outcomes gain more influence resulting in the system getting more accurate over time.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?


Hubdub is a great way to follow a news story. Want to know if David Cameron will be the next Prime Minister? (60% no) Or, whether JK Rowling will announce another Harry Potter by the end of 2008? (90% no).

Or even, who will win Best Actor at the Oscars? (Johnny Depp 24%). Hubdub not only forecasts how running news stories will turn out but lets you track them over time. For example, when another government mishandling of data incident comes up, how does that impact David Cameron’s chances?

Additionally, as users can create questions around the news stories they are following Hubdub is a great resource to find out what news people are really interested in at the moment.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?


This is just the very start! We are working on a range of widgets to allow journalists and bloggers to include Hubdub’s forecasts in their stories. This makes the story richer and enables you to more closely engage with your readers.
 Additionally, we are working on a range of features to let users connect with other users who have similar (or opposing) outlooks and opinions on the site.

4) Why are you doing this?

I really designed the product for myself. I’ve always been a very heavy news consumer but often I felt that the news just lacked a degree of excitement. I want to make following the news to be as exciting as betting on sports or playing fantasy leagues.

5) What does it cost to use it?


Nada, nothing, zero, zilch

6) How will you make it pay?


We are currently focused on getting the product out to as many people as possible. Once we have sufficient scale we expect to selectively carry advertising.

 Additionally, we are considering two other revenue streams, a premium offering similar to fantasy sports leagues and partnerships with publishers and media companies. We have already received interest in both these areas.