Wednesday 20 March 2013

Lobby Terms

Jim Sheridan may be on to something.

Like the registration of newspapers with the Post Office, the Parliamentary Lobby is already a form of the apparently feared "State licensing", which is nothing remotely new in this country in the modern era.

The publications granted Parliamentary Lobby access should be required to be balanced among themselves, even if not necessarily within themselves.

Broadcasters having such access should be required to give regular airtime to all newspapers enjoying the same access when covering newspapers, regular airtime to all magazines enjoying the same access when covering magazines, and regular airtime to all websites enjoying the same access when covering websites.

Subject to that condition, such access should be enjoyed by all and only those newspapers, magazines, websites, news agencies or freelance journalists publicly certified for the purpose by one or more seat-taking members of the House of Commons, or possibly of either House, whose staffs would enjoy no less access to the Palace of Westminster than that enjoyed by members of the Lobby. After all, who is in charge? Who is sovereign?

And the classification of the production costs of most national newspapers as Conservative Party election expenses is long, long, long overdue. If they do not want their production costs to be so classified, then they need to change their ways.

For that matter, if those writing for the papers are merely doing for payment what anyone may do for free, then why do they need their own Press Gallery? Why should they not have to apply for tickets to the Public Gallery, like everyone else? If they do not want that, then let them be made to accept this.

Ed Miliband, Jon Cruddas and Tom Watson, over to you.


  1. This is very wrong - you suggest that effectively only those news organisations approved by parliament should be allowed to report on parliament.
    So who holds them to account, who observes and reports on any unsavoury or anti-democratic activity, who holds open the door to reveal abuse of power when any who cry foul may find themselves declared unfit.
    And don't argue that any member can acredit a news organisation as that is no defence against the cosy cartel

  2. you suggest that effectively only those news organisations approved by parliament should be allowed to report on parliament

    That is already the case. It always has been, and how could it not be?

    The Lobby is a very exclusive club with astonishing privileges within the Palace of Westminster, not enjoyed by, for example, the lowly staff of mere MPs.

    A cosy cartel, if you will.

    But there is nothing to stop anyone from applying for a ticket to the Public Gallery. After all, isn't that all that they are? Citizens exercising their rights as citizens?

  3. Tyranosaurus, if any MP could certify someone as a member of the Press Gallery that would be a far more open system than the present one.

  4. Exactly.

    They are like the City, convinced that their own oligarchy and its privileges are the quintessence of liberty, transparency and democracy.

  5. It could be a small step towards making up for the workfare abstention.