Labour won the Maghull TC by-election held last Thursday but to paraphrase a long-standing and famous headline from a national paper that is never mentioned in polite company on Merseyside, ‘Was it the Aintree & Maghull Champion wot won it’ for Labour?
The evidence is significant due to the coverage the paper gave to the Labour candidate in the weeks up to the election. Photo’s and gushing reports were in a number of editions.
And I know I am not the only one to think this in the Maghull area and I understand such concerns are being raised in Formby too.
And yes, I have told the Champion what I think in case you are wondering.
Is it just me or have we moved into an era where local newspapers simply report what those in power (Council Leaders and MP’s etc.) say without question? Don’t local newspapers take on those in power any more?
I say this in the context of my period of 7 years as Leader of Sefton Council when every now and then the local papers put me on the rack with blunt questioning. Indeed, I recall finishing hard hitting Sefton Council meetings, thinking to myself thank goodness that is over with, when within seconds a reporter was pushing a hand held tape recorder up to me demanding that I explain the stance I had taken over whatever was the politically divisive issue of the day.
It was hardly pleasant but I tried to embrace it because I realised it was my job to justify what the Council was doing and to take the flak that was flying. As a Liberal I understood that issuing a party political spun press release was hardly going to get me off the hook and neither should it.
Yet now, having stepped back from being a party leader and no longer holding the strings of power, I wonder why local media seem to simply take the politically spun press releases at face value? At times they seem to do this without even balancing the issue with either opposition comment or one of those in your face interviews which stares into the whites of your eyes for a sign of weakness.
Are local newspapers going soft on local politicians who hold power? I am really wondering if they are.