Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Liberal Vision told to "resolve" accuracy issue or "it will come back to haunt us"

So, my cynicism regarding the return of 'Liberal Vision' is renewed by the stance taken in another piece demanding that the Federal Executive do something about Lord Rennard.

A piece containing two major inaccuracies designed to create a stir is published. It then mysteriously gets a prominent place in the blogs of the two leading Conservative commentators, neither of whom could be described as being entirely objective. Describing Liberal Democrat Voice as Cowley Street-backed and conflating Alix Mortimer's personal views with comments made by someone completely different does rather smack of an underhand attempt to force the agenda. And, given the author's undoubted media skills, you'd have to accept that it looks more like conspiracy than cock-up.

Oh yes, by the way Charlotte, saying that misrepresenting someone and, as a result, getting them plenty of coverage, is a good thing is a mite disingenuous.

Now, for the record, I'm not convinced that I've been wildly impressed with Alix Mortimer's approach to the expenses scandal - just a bit too willing to condemn first and consider the rebuttal later for my taste. However, I'm a bureaucrat and I tend to a 'shades of grey' stance rather than a 'fluorescent' one. And, of course, Alix wins awards and I don't, so I'll assume that she's doing something right (that's a compliment Alix, just so that you know...). However, rewriting someone's words, and quoting their private e-mail without permission does smack of abusing someone to do your dirty work for you. It is disrespectful and potentially impacts on Alix's ability to do what she does so well for LDV.

I don't know what will happen regarding the accusations against Chris Rennard and, at the time of writing, I don't know what happened at Federal Executive - you'll have to wait for comment from someone who was there. However, if people want to attack him, I'd rather they did it themselves. After all, we're all in favour of openness and transparency, aren't we?...


Charlotte Gore said...

Yes, I probably shouldn't have posted that comment really. Fair enough :S

Alix said...

Thanks for noting this, Mark - it is indeed a fairly puzzling spectacle. FTR, I don't know where they got the email.

There does seem to have been an attempt (why??) to make my views look "secret", and also like a Lib Dem Voice initiative, without checking with me, or even, for heaven's sake, looking at my blog, to affirm either of these assumptions. I even blew up at poor Guido (there's a turn of phrase you don't hear every day) before I realised that it was actually Progressive Vision who had made said assumptions.

I think Charlotte was overlooking the fact that any "good publicity" that accrued to me and my blog as a result is actually down to me alone. If I hadn't written the blog post that Liberal Vision missed, I would be very far from getting "good publicity" or a link from a major blog. I'd then just be someone whose private email was published without her permission. The fact that I'd already made the same points in public was apparently not known to the Vision people.

So no, not terribly impressed at being treated as collateral. I've no idea what Mark Littlewood thinks he's up to but, in the words of Gonville Bromhead, "Rather you asked first, old boy."

Ah well, these people are sent to try us.

Alix said...

Hehe, meanwhile, poor old Darrell over at Moments of Clarity who actually *has* written an open letter to the Fed Exec is being totally ignored!

Anonymous said...

I agree Mark it does look as though there is an "underhand attempt to force the agenda".

Poor Chris Rennard, who to date has done nothing more than adjust his claimed living arrangements to maximise his personal gain from the taxpayer, appears to be being victimised by people who think this is wrong. These pack of venomous vipers are even demanding he explain himself properly or resign. How could they, don't they realise how important Lord Rennard is.

Meanwhile the Federal Executive and your wife seem to be being unfairly encouraged to make decisions and show leadership on matters for which they are responsible. This is just not the way we do business in the Liberal Democrats.

Finally and I quite agree with your emphasis that this is the worst scandal of the three, Alix Mortimer has not been asked for consent to print something she has written. Bring back hanging for the guilty I say.

Keep up the good work for fans of process everywhere Mark!

Mark Valladares said...

Dear Anonymous,

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, another anonymous attack. It's a pity that you're too cowardly to put your name to it, but this does at least mean that I don't need to take you too seriously.

On the other hand, if you want to put your own spin on a piece which makes it clear that I have no objection to individuals or groups attacking in their own names, then you really need to get your head out of the conspiracy manual and pay attention.

Given that you have no idea what happened at the Federal Executive - and nor do I - attacking them for not showing leadership is preemptive to say the least. That said, you are perfectly at liberty to do so if you wish, regardless of whether it serves any purpose or not.

There are a number of people who have called for action to be taken with regard to Chris Rennard. I've not attacked any of them, nor do I intend to. They pay their money and they speak their mind. But either you're honest about your agenda, or you're not, and I think that Mark Littlewood's piece used a misrepresentation to make a point that he wasn't willing to make in his own words. Legitimate tactic or not, I don't have to like it.

Charlotte Gore said...

Well the email was leaked to Mark Littlewood - perhaps by someone who wanted more scrutiny on the Rennard issue during the meeting.

Alix was listed as Lib Dem Voice first because that's the more well known website, and it's why the email was news and had a certain amount of public interest (at least from a blogs point of view).

Now I read Alix's blog and I hadn't realised she'd sent an email to the Fed Ex, so I'm not really surprised ML didn't pick up on that either.

Having said all that, considering how this one has played out, I'm personally not very happy about this. I think, with hindsight, Mark should have talked to Alix before posting anything.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that if allegations against Lord Rennard had been taken seriously, sooner, and dealt with, we would not be here, nor would people feel the need to blow the whistle, anonymously or otherwise.

Mark Littlewood said...

I'm afraid I was up against it in terms of time pressures, I wrote the blog post in ten minutes. I think the only real inacuuracy is that the "placard" quote was actually Alix quoting someone else. Although the format I was sent the letter in was a little confusing on this point. Nevertheless, am delighted to make the clarification and emailed Alix to make sure she was content with it. My screw up. Apologies.

I do think there are issues about the editorial independence of LDV. It's a good and useful site, but it's relationship with Cowley Street does compromsie its truly independent status. This isn't necessarily "bad", but does raise some issues. For example, I'm still a tad confused about the difference between Alix expressing her views personally as opposed to as a co-editor of LDV. She'd already made a number of similar remarks and observations on LDV, so I don't quite get why she din't post the letter on LDV.

I don't apologise at all for printing the extracts from Alix's letter. Her comments and remarks are - IMHO -interesting, significant and about the LibDems. That pretty much hits all three bullseyes for being included on the LV blog.

I don't think there's anything "underhand" about it or evidence of a "conspiracy".

And I don't think the links on Guido and Iain Dale are remotely "mysterious" (assuming these are the two commentators you refer to).

Guido had already written a story along the same lines. Dale's "Daley Dozen" - on which he referendces the story - also links to Labour MP Kerry McCarthy and the official UKIP website.

I'm flattered by your nod to my media skills, but there really is no magic here. If you write interesting stuff, people will read it and link to it.

Mark Valladares said...


With the greatest respect, you're a media professional, versed in the dark arts. That isn't a criticism, merely a fact.

The link between Cowley Street and LDV is a tenuous one, given the absence of funding, official recognition or endorsement by the leadership. Yes, it is used as a means of conveying information by some people, but that's as much because it exists as anything else. I do think that you over-emphasised the link to add weight to your piece and, whilst I accept that it is a legitimate tactic if what you want is for your voice to be heard, the impact of discrediting LDV's operational independence is unlikely to do Liberal Vision any harm as an alternative 'voice of the activist'.

Just a thought, Mark...