Friday 2 October 2009

Are the New Tories afraid of scrutiny?

The Conservatives are placing a lot of emphasis on their online campaigning with the launch of Anthony Painter - one of Labour's best informed voices on movement politics online - is impressed.

But the common Tory charge that Labour does not get the online space because of its 'command and control' instincts looks less credible today, with the Conservative party refusing access to report its conference to credible but critical or independent voices.

LeftFootForward, a promising new progressive site committed to rather serious evidence-based interrogation of key debates (modelled on its US partner site 'Think Progress') reports that it has been refused a pass for the Tory conference.

I can not see any sense in parties refusing serious and credible political opponents from being to access their conferences (though if there were good reason to think somebody might disrupt the event that would be different). Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome had a conference pass and was made welcome in Brighton, as was Tory blogger Iain Dale, wearing both his partisan and non-partisan hats for different parts of the week. (Indeed, both were invited to speak on the Fabian fringe too).

The Labour Party have confirmed that they did not turn away any bona fide freelance journalists or bloggers from having access to the conference itself.

[UPDATE: Have removed reference to another site, which has not been refused accreditation]

Next Left says 'Let them hear Pickles!'

Fans of George Orwell's Politics and the English Language may particularly enjoy the comically bureaucratic form which the refusal letter from Tory head of conferences Stephen Williams takes - politely noting that those concerned will surely understand why it is a long established practice never to give any reason whatsoever so that nothing can be misunderstood.

“For over twenty years the party has included the following words on its application forms; ‘the completion and submission of this application does not confer any right upon the applicant to attend conference. The Conservative Party reserves the right to refuse admission to any person without ascribing any reason thereto.’

“I am sure you appreciate that these words and this policy were carefully chosen to avoid the development of any misunderstanding.

“I know this is not the reply you were hoping for, and I am sorry for that. However, it would not be sensible for me to fly in the face of agreed and accepted practices.”

Let us see if Tories who get the new communications environment - like Tory web guru Samuel Coates or grassroots chief Tim Montgomerie - might persuade their colleagues that these "agreed and accepted practices" are something of an own goal.

I have asked them both on twitter for their view.

Meanwhile, LeftFootForward report that they will be reporting the Manchester fringe. The Fabians will be debating poverty after the credit crunch on the fringe too, as we did at the LibDem and Labour conferences.


Alberto Nardelli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alberto Nardelli said...

This post is incorrect:

Tweetminster hasn't been granted media accreditation to the conference due to their policies, not politics.

We, myself included, are though confident that we will be receiving passes soon.

Julian Bray said...

Its all on the Parliament Channel anyway and isn't now the peak period for contracting swine flu?
So avoid crowds and strange people..