Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Oi, Owen! Shut it!

So, David Owen has been opining about how Ming Campbell should hand over the leadership of the Liberal Democrats to a "young Turk". O.K., so a man whose party (the S.D.P.) at its last electoral outing finished behind the Monster Raving Loony Party has given his opinion on the leadership of the Lib Dems. Fair enough. But rather more egregious is the coverage given to his remarks in The Guardian.

The opening paragraph of their story is:

"Sir Menzies Campbell's leadership of the Liberal Democrats suffered a fresh blow today after a party stalwart called for him to be replaced by a 'young Turk'."

I just fired off this email to The Guardian, (politics.editor@guardian.co.uk)

"Dear Sir/Madam,

The above-mentioned story of Tuesday, February 6, 2007 begins with the sentence, “Sir Menzies Campbell’s leadership of the Liberal Democrats suffered a fresh blow today after a party stalwart called for him to be replaced by a ‘young Turk’.”

Anyone with the most basic knowledge of British political history would be aware that David Owen is not a “party stalwart”, nor even to my knowledge a member of the Liberal Democrats. He broke away from his own party, the S.D.P., after the majority of that party voted to merge with the Liberal Party and form what is now the Liberal Democrats.

He sits in the House of Lords as a cross-bencher, not a Liberal Democrat.

If Lord Owen is a stalwart of any party, rather than a bitter old man whose own party went against his wishes, it is of the S.D.P – which has one branch in Bridlington, I believe, and about a dozen members."

I suggest others do the same.


SBS said...

The Guardian has very poor editorial controls. The article also states that Chris Huhne is 42. Huhne may be younger than Sir Ming, but he is 52.

I fear many articles are written by those just out of university. You must remember that these people may have been born in 1985. They have no recollection of political events before about 1997 at best.

The Independent is equally capable of similar howlers. I recall some article a year or so ago that seemed to be oblivious that rather a lot of MPs defected from Labour to the SDP.

Edis said...

The Guardian item actually starts of saying that Owen is 'a senior figure from the Liberal Movement' rather than 'a Party Stalwarth'.

This form of words suggests to me a more deliberate attempt by 'staff and agencies' to confuse the issue, rather than a simple mistake by a naive hack. They know very well that Owen has no connections to the LibDems but have to insinuate that he has in order to manufacture a story.

By the way in the LibDem world,'the Liberal Movement' historically was an unstructured network of Liberal supporters attempting to assert Liberal values during the merger debates with the SDP. The last thing with which Dr Death would be associated.