Newsflash from No. 10

I’ve just happened upon a transcript of a Gordon Brown press conference at No

The blogosphere pointed me there because of this controversial passage – which read just fine to me.

I think Mrs Thatcher, Lady Thatcher, saw the need for change and I think whatever disagreements you have with her about certain policies – there was a large amount of unemployment at the time which perhaps could have been dealt with better – we have got to understand that she saw the need for change. I also admire the fact that she is a conviction politician. She stands very clearly for principles. I believe, and I have said before, that I am also a conviction politician. I am convinced about certain things, that we have got to support the talent of every individual in the country, that people have got to respect other people, that we have got to have a work ethic that works, that we have got to have discipline, as I have said, in our communities, and that is the only way with families working well and communities well, that we can do well as a country. So I am a conviction politician like her, and I think many people will see Mrs Thatcher as not only a person who saw the need for change in our country and took big decisions to achieve that, but also is and remains a conviction politician, true to the beliefs that she holds.

It’s interesting to speculate about this passage which doesn’t go very far out of its way to distance Gordon Brown from Maggie. But what intrigued me was the next three words in the transcript which are as follows.

(Party Political Content)

‘Party Political Content’ is edited out of another answer. Otherwise the transcript is the full transcript of what he actually said.

I’ve always admired the greater tenacity with which the Poms stick to the formalities of the Westminster tradition despite the encroachment of modern sensibilities and the 24 hour spin cycle. I admire the way in which the BBC often tries to summarise the essence of some announcement or piece of news rather than just get the juiciest ‘grab’ from one spokesperson or another.

And here they are with the idea that a press conference transcript on the PM’s website should have the overtly party political content removed. I’m not sure I’d be too happy with the job of working out what went in and what stayed out. The whole thing seems a bit quaint. But I admire them for trying. I wonder if they’ll still be doing it in ten years time.

England – the place where there’s a fair chance a minister will resign (and probably for good) if he’s caught lying. Then again, it’s also a place where a minister will resign if he gets caught indulging in a bit of nookie which is no-one’s business.

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16 years ago

But while being found out about nookie might require a minister to resign (which is silly and face-saving), it doesn’t seem to necessarily preclude them from rising again, or at least that’s my recollection. Go to the backbench for a while, and then you can rise to the heights of power again.

16 years ago

From the linked-to site:

Sometimes it is necessary to edit the transcripts. This is either because in accordance with long-standing practice under the Ministerial and Civil Service codes, government websites cannot carry party political content, or because the audio quality has made it impossible to transcribe.

How lovely. I’d love a similar policy on party political content to be in force in our fair land.

derrida derider
derrida derider
16 years ago

Never mind all that – what about all the palaver about “work ethic” and “community discipline”? And that’s a Labour PM, ferchrissake.
Based on that, and the post below, you’ve got to say the fascists have won. Fascism is a state of mind, and it’s become prevalent amongst our “leaders”.

16 years ago

I like the point you make Nicholas. Respect for parliament has (for me) always seemed a defined characteristic of the Westminster system. Howard’s championing of the Westminster model during the republic debate was always a hypocritical posture. He more than anyone has trashed the Westminster values yet at the same time he more than anyone has trumpeted their sacrosanct value. He lied to serve his own ends and in that he has diminished Parliament and its association with the Westminster model.
In considering the Westminster system in today’s society, I think that one should also consider the role of the media as in your point that

I admire the way in which the BBC often tries to summarise the essence of some announcement or piece of news rather than just get the juiciest grab from one spokesperson or another.

The “media” in Australia has long fallen for the “bottom-line” of ratings, profit and the lowest common denominator. Apart from the occasional biting question on the ABC, when did an interviewer last stop a politician in full flow and insist, “But I didn’t ask you that. I asked you….” Too many times have government members been allowed to wander off into obscurity instead of answering a question. The “media” should pull them up and insist on a direct answer to a question. If a politician doesn’t want to answer fine. Tell them the interview’s over. Finish it. They would soon learn that termination of an interview in this way would be loudly and broadly publicised to their detriment. The Westminster system also implies respect for the people in this case as represented by the media questioner.


[…] Gruen admires the BBC’s dedication to a disdain for factionalism in political reporting. Nicholas is also seeking feedback on the talking points he wants to cover when he speaks at a […]