Sunday, January 27, 2008

Professional = Centralised

I commented on my annoyance about the 'clones', the Labour ministers who repeat the official lines with the appearance of being unable to think independently. But this is the professional communication model it seems. Former Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell argued today that he had tried to "professionalise" the party to make it "more up-to-date" and "more fit for 24-hour-a-day news". The ongoing problem for the party, Campbell claims, is that the party has "too many alternative power sources".

Basically Campbell argues that the media has become a news machine that needs feeding and that will throw out stories based on any "vocal public expression" that seems to offer a contrary perspective or, in the case of the LibDems, comments about the age of Campbell as leader. Parties, it appears, must control all expression in order that the media can only report on information from other sources and the party has the opportunity to close down debate.

Where Campbell seems to be wrong is that it just doesn't work. Dissent can always be found and, one would imagine, that the larger the party the more alternative voices could be found. But even when power over official communication is centralised and controlled, the speak your weight machine style of communication does not close down a story. The election that never was is a large nail in the coffin of Brown's premiership despite the 'getting on the with job' response being issued by just about everyone who has been asked. Perhaps there is a journalistic rebellion against the centralisation and they are determined to pick away at the party machine until the story unravels. Whatever the case, while it may be professional to have a party line but one wonders if it is tenable under the 24 news cycle's microscope that the tactic is designed to counter.

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