All posts tagged 'Channel-4'

A PR car crash for Kent's crime boss + UKIP's purple tide: the week in politics

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, May 30 2014

Here's my round-up of another busy week in Kent politics, featuring an odd miscellany of onions, airplanes, Ann Barnes and - perhaps inevitably - a man called Nigel Farage...

AFTER its victory at the European election, an understandably euphoric UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the next objective would be to propel his "people's army" into Westminster. "Who knows, we might hold the balance of power," he said.

He made it clear the party has set its sights on Kent - where UKIP topped the EU poll in every area bar Tunbridge Wells - as a key battleground in 2015.

As to his own intentions, he more or less confirmed he would stand as a candidate in Kent - saying that it would "probably" be in the south east "somewhere by the seaside."

That would be Thanet South, then.


Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg cut a chastened figure after enduring a torrid week and looked decidedly off-colour when interviewed about the hammering his party took in the EU poll.

Things turned even worse when there was a botched attempt to undermine his leadership and persuade party activists to dump him before the election.

But when things are that bad for a politician, anything that could be seen as a glimmer of hope is seized on.

Although it wasn't much to cheer, at least the party didn't go into a major meltdown at the Maidstone council elections, where it took the largest share of the vote and defended most of their seats. Its perfomance was overshadowed by UKIP's breakthrough, taking four seats on the council for the first time. 

The Lib Dems even won a seat from the Tories - but that gain was wiped out when they lost a seat to Labour. Still, in politics, it is often the small things that count...


IF  Nick Clegg had a bad week, it has been nothing in comparison with the truly gruesome one Kent's crime commissioner Ann Barnes experienced.

Her appearance in a warts-and-all Channel 4 documentary "Meet The Commisioner" was a PR car crash to top all PR car crashes.

Even before it was aired, the Kent Police Federation said the clips used as a trailer for the programme had damaged the reputation of the force.

The full programme triggered a frenzy of largely critical social media activity and spawned a parody Twitter account called @AnnBarnesOnion after the commissioner was seen struggling to explain a system of policing priorities based onion.

Viewers were aghast, comparing the show to "The Office" and the Olympic spoof "Twenty Twelve" and most did not think that it showed the commissioner in her best light.

But if it had damaged the reputation of the force, that was nothing compared to the damage done to the commissioner herself. Even one of her former aides and campaign managers, Howard Cox, admitted she had been badly advised to take part.

In characteristically forthright fashion, she defended her participation, saying she wanted to use it to make people understand what her role was.

The irony is that the programme did just that, providing a fascinating insight into what a commissioner does, only not in the way Ann Barnes expected.

In particular, it vividly illustrated that among the public, there is still widespread misunderstanding and confusion over the role, with many thinking commissioners are rather like crime-fighting sheriffs who can ride into town and chase away all the hoodlums.

Perhaps inevitably, she said there had been some "mischevious editing" and in a lengthy statement posted on her website said she was frustrated and disappointed by what had been broadcast.

But for once, her usually hyperactive Twitter account, which she says is the most followed of all crime commissioners, seemed to go rather quiet.

Meanwhile, someone took up a light aircraft trailing a banner reading #ANNBARNES out and flew over police HQ in Maidstone, making her the David Moyles of crime commissioners.

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Categories: Precept

The crime commissioner, the TV documentary and another PR car crash

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Tuesday, May 20 2014

We will have to wait until next week to see the television documentary about Ann Barnes, Kent's crime commissioner but the preview clips released by the programme makers suggest she may not come out too well. As Channel 4 puts it, the programme sets out to answer the question of whether the commissioner is "an independent breath of fresh air" or a "gaffe prone amateur."

On the basis of the clips released, it seems the programme may well lead many to conclude that it is the latter. 

"What is my job..." the crime commissioner struggles for an answer>>>

Some have already clearly made their mind up and although Mrs Barnes has appealed, through a statement issued by her office, for people to wait to see the whole programme before rushing to judgement, damage has already been done. 

She may blame "mischevious editing" for creating an impression that she doesn't really know what she is doing. She claims to have thought "long and hard" before deciding to participate in the warts and all film and concluded it fitted with her intention to be open and transparent about everything she does.

The only problem is that documentary makers want to make entertaining programmes and their subjects have zero editorial control - something that the commissioner must have known or at least been advised about.

For someone who shrewdly masterminded a successful election campaign and comprehensively saw off her rivals to secure the post, she has, in office, shown some poor judgement.

it also adds weight to those who argue that one of the faultlines of the commissioner model is that once in post, commissioners always have an eye on how decisions they take will play with the voter. Mrs Barnes probably calculated  that being filmed for a documentary would be a  useful way of raising her profile and could be used to show how her objective of being "the most accessible and visible crime commissioner" was being realised.

It was also an opportunity to show her independent nature - one of the reasons she proved popular with electors was that she was not a candidate from any of the mainstream parties.

Whatever the final programme shows, she has already  handed her opponents more ammunition - you can already see what will feature in the election literature of other candidates come the next election.


By coincidence, a report from the commissioner's office due to be presented to the Kent and Medway Crime Panel, presents a largely positive tone about the commissioner's strategy of being "accessible and visible."

It states that the commissioner has "the most influential and most followed Twitter account amongst the 41 crime commissioners" with a Klout score of 60...with the report noting that President Obama has a score of 99 and Dame Kelly Holmes has 82.

How that Klout score is measured is complicated but many followers will be familiar with the one of the tactics of promoting activity on Twitter accounts known as "twanking" - defined as the over-generous sharing of information.




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A properly regulated press will produce papers people want

by The Codgers' Club Friday, December 7 2012

by Peter Cook

Bring on Leveson I say. We definitely need some kind of legal underpinning for regulation of the national press.

“Oh but we’ll be sacrificing 300 years of press freedom,” the editors whine.

Well they should have thought of that before they hacked into the phones of murder victims, trashed the reputations of suspects, bribed police officers and health officials and intruded into the private lives of people who happen to be famous.

In any case the press freedom that existed was always one-sided. Media moguls never hesitated to use “the power of the press” to influence the results of general elections. “It’s the Sun wot won it!”

These days the actions of politicians are governed, almost entirely, by how things will play out in the media.

Look at Blair sucking up to Murdoch. Look at Cameron, terrified to press for full implementation of what Leveson recommends, for fear of how the press will react.

So an unregulated press – which is what self regulation produces – impacts heavily on our democracy. Self regulation of the press just doesn’t work. That has been proved. If they were drinking in the Last Chance Saloon back in Thatcher’s day, surely it must be chucking out time by now.

A self regulated press would just wait until all the hoo-hah was over before lapsing into its old ways again.

People say that provisions of the law already cover irregularities and just have to be enforced for the press to clean up its act. But newspapers play a more subtle game than that.

Much of the misrepresentation is done by innuendo and suggestion, and the emphasis given to some stories in order to create an impression. It breaks no law. Besides you need very deep pockets to pursue and action for libel.
Regulation works for radio and television. Channel 4 News is robust and challenging and doesn’t live in fear of Ofcom.

Do you know what? A properly regulated press will produce better newspapers that people actually want to buy.

More and more people tell me they don’t buy a newspaper anymore because they’re “all full of lies”. And with one or two notable exceptions they are. I have to wash my hands several times if they come into contact with the Sun.

Let’s get this sorted out once and for all and produce newspapers that we can be proud of.

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Categories: Moans and groans

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