I well remember being at conference in Blackpool where the media were trying to show the Lib Dems as battling with the leader over the post office motion of the time. It was plain that gentlemen of the press had arrived not just with preconceived ideas of what was going to happen but pretty much pre-written stories. Conference started to become about what they wanted it to be, with them promoting their version of events, and ignoring much of the rest of what was happening.
They tried in Brighton this time to do the same. They so wanted the tax debate to end badly for the leader with the loony left activists defeating the party’s policy pros. Instead, they watched a mature and measured debate and in the end the grassroot Lib Dems voted with the leadership, and the fourth estate had quickly to rewrite all their copy. Caught on the hoof, they ended up repeated what was being told to them about how this showed the party as mature and measured, etc.
A week later in Manchester the gents of the press also turned up with idées fixes. They wanted the story to be spats about the leadership, and they wanted to watch the Labour party tear itself apart. So much so, it appears that the only thing they could find to support their hypotheses were aside remarks allegedly made sotto voce by the wife of the Prime Minister.
So it’s rather pleasing that after being thwarted twice the media moguls arrive in Bournemouth and get to hear the Tories doing exactly what they expected them to, with spats about policy or lack of, tax cuts or no, and on top of that some really bad headlines for the party: a crass remark about autism that appears to have caused offence, terrible queues, porn links for Francis Maude, outright lies about previous manifestos.
Oh, this week will be jolly.