Wednesday 30 September 2009

Alan Milburn joins PoliticsHome exodus

Next Left can exclusively reveal that former Health Secretary Alan Milburn is among the latest senior political figures to withdraw from the PoliticsHome 'insider' panel, as questions grow about the site's independence and integrity from a wide range of different perspectives.

We understand that he was keen to see his image and name removed from the site at once, as he did not want them used to promote the commercial interests of Conservative deputy chairman Michael Ashcroft.

The site has also lost schools minister Jim Knight and Gisela Stuart MP, the independent-minded Labour MP who has been a thorn in the side of the government over her support for a Lisbon referendum.

Liberal Conspiracy this week revealed that Jean Eaglesham of the Financial Times, Stryker McGuire of Newsweek and Andy McSmith of The Independent were among the journalists to leave the panel.

We have naturally been focused on other issues this week but have had a number of people in touch with us following our reporting of earlier developments.

After late night investigative reporting here in Brighton, we can now add a further name to the media list too - Chris McLaughlin, the editor of Tribune, has also resigned - and can reveal that Progress Chair Stephen Twigg has also decided to resign from the panel. Following the departure of Richard Reeves, the panel has now lost the head of Demos, the Fabians and Compass and the chair of Progress from the centre and centre-left think-tanks, again raising serious questions about its claims to viability.

Finally, we have heard a credible rumour of another senior Liberal Democrat MP's departure: we will try to confirm this definitively when conference ends. It would be interesting to see if PoliticsHome would be prepared to reveal how many LibDem MPs remain on their panel at present.

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