It's a common refrain when canvassing on doorsteps, "We never hear anything from the Liberal Democrats." Well, it's not for want of trying! Some far-right controversialists get more airtime from the BBC than the Liberal Democrats, and if you pick up a newspaper you'd often think the Party doesn't exist. That can be especially true at a local newspaper and news level. Look at these two articles…
Both use identical content. But for some reason one has chosen to omit all comment from the Liberal Democrats. Why is that?
Well in an unguarded moment one editor confided to a local Councillor that the newspaper owners had told the editor not to give any publicity to the Liberal Democrats 'that showed them in a positive light'.
At least at a national level we know where the media stands; who backs the Conservatives (Mail, Express, Telegraph) who backs Labour (Mirror). At a local level, however, newspapers like to project the pretence that they are in some way 'independent' but that really isn't the case. They often have an agenda as clearly as the Mail or Mirror do. It's no coincidence that local Conservative MPs are given cosy 'What I've done this week' articles and that there is not much scrutiny of what they are really doing for their voters.
So why is this happening?
Perhaps because the owners of these papers are Conservative supporters, but also I would contend (in excluding the Liberal Democrats) that the papers want people to believe it is a 'two horse race'. Much easier to scare (small c) conservatives into voting Conservative when the opposition is the bogeyman Labour Party, than if there is a moderate sensible alternative.
So if you aren't hearing about the Liberal Democrats, it's not because we aren't doing anything, or that we are not issuing Press Releases it's because Editors are 'spiking' favourable stories.