05 October 2007

Conviction Politics & Media Spin

Having yesterday joined the international bloggers' day of silence for Burma (and also having spent the day catching up with life after the conference), I have now caught up with some of the news and comment that I missed over the past few days. More than anything else, I am amazed how coverage of highlights from the Conservative conference contrasts with what so many experienced and were saying behind the scenes at the time. Quite clearly, if we are ever to see a return of conviction politics, spin is a problem to be addressed as much by the media as by political parties. Credit then to Daily Mail blogger Ben Brogan for his honest appraisal of the IDS speech:

Something quite extraordinary happened in the hall a short while ago. Iain Duncan Smith gave a speech, without notes, about repairing Britain's broken society with tolerance. He finished it with a heart-stopping appeal to "make it your life". The response was a huge standing ovation, and this time it was real. In fact, it just went on and on. He just stood there looking deeply moved. At one point his face started to crumple and there was a distinct glint of tears in his eyes. Was he recalling the horror of four years ago in the same hall, when 17 staged standing ovations failed to save him from the chop? And was this a case of apology by applause? A telling moment in a conference that is turning into a triumph.
Iain Duncan SmithWhat was most striking was that Iain spoke not merely "without notes" (a feat that the media made much of when Cameron more or less repeated the act) but also with such great passion — he was truly inspiring, which is why both men and women were moved to tears. As one of Brogan's commenters says, "Unfortunately unless you were at Blackpool, you won't know anything about IDS's speech. The BBC haven't covered it at all - and apparently nor have Sky. I've been reading about it on blogs and am now feeling seriously deprived. How can anyone make an informed decision in an election if the media fix the news stories like this? It just isn't right."

See also: Quentin Letts' report in The Daily Mail: "Iain Duncan Smith, the 'Quiet Man' of politics, the former Tory leader so long trashed and traduced as a loser from another age, gave an absolute scorcher of a speech. No notes. No lectern. Packed with gestures and variety and oompf."