Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website
Almost lost amid the United Kingdom’s minimal news coverage of the election campaign for the European Parliament and the English county councils were some significant developments within the British media landscape.  Newspaper websites broke new ground in their bid to challenge other news outlets and showed they could compete head on with mainstream television and radio services.

All too often elections to the European Parliament have been reduced to not much more than a snapshot of the popularity of each national government.  When the United Kingdom votes to elect 72 MEPs -- in what The Times says is the election that “never happened” -- British voters seem destined to give a good kicking not just to the Labour government of Gordon Brown but also to the entire political establishment.

Fresh claims have been made about government manipulation of the BBC’scoverage of the 1984-5 miners’ strike.  It is now alleged that specific instructions were issued from the “highest level of government” to ensure that the BBC’s camera crews focused on the miners’ violence and not on “the police smashing heads”.  The allegation has been made by the former Daily Mirror industrial editor Geoffrey Goodman, chairman of the editorial board of British Journalism Review, who insisted he has an “impeccable source”.  But in a speech on the Untold History of the Miners’ Strike, former BBC industrial correspondent Nicholas Jones said he did not believe that such instruction was issued. However, he acknowledged that towards the end of the year long strike the balance of coverage tipped firmly in favour of Margaret Thatcher and the National Coal Board.     

Whatever reservations there might be over the way the leaked information was obtained, the publication of hitherto secret details about the endemic abuse of MPs’ expenses was without doubt in the public interest.  

Whether it was cash for questions or dodgy donations for peerages, politicians have all too regularly shown an almost suicidal disregard for the proper management of their financial affairs.  What has proved so damaging about the latest scandal over claims for second homes, furnishings and food was the systematic way in which so many MPs were prepared to abuse the taxpayers’ generosity.