18 Doughty Street is turning in to 18 Tory Street

I've tried hard to give 18 Doughty Street the benefit of the doubt since it started, and I had, on the whole, thought it had done its best to follow some sort of middle way.

Quite clearly all the money behind 18 Doughty Street is Tory, and aside from some token "lefties", the main presentation "anchors" are Conservatives too. Now 18 Doughty Street has had some semblance of balance by at least having lots of non-Tory guests, although Tories still outnumber guests from other parties by some distance. However, I've no great problem with that.

What I do have a problem with is 18 Doughty Street running attack ads on themes that can only really benefit the Tories.

The first attack ad that I saw was against state funding for local parties. Clearly an issue the Tories have opposed for some years. It goes without saying that the Conservative Party would have been pleased with this ad.

Now, its attacking Ken Livingstone. It's not that they've attacked Ken, of whom I am no fan, but I gather that people who back 18 Doughty Street have also been linked to Tory mayoral candidates, so this starts to smack of the worst type of American negative campaigning. What is worse though is that it appears that 18 Doughty Street is starting to become the vehicle for political campaigning, and in particular, Tory campaigning, that we were all told it would not be.

I'd refer people to Iain Dale's article about the latest attack ad as the comments make some interesting points better than I can.

It's a shame that 18DS is losing credibility by running these attack ads as the principle of the channel is a good one. I'd be interested to read what others have to say on this issue.


Newmania said...

The blogasphere is supported populated and gets most of its ideological energy from the new right . Iain dale is actually an A list candidate for the Conservative Party and Conservative Home hardly need further explanation. I see this problem the other way round. Iain wants to maintain a forum where other views can be heard but this will be increasingly difficult especially as those views are in practice so difficult to sustain outside of the localised context in which they thrive and without the over representation habitually given by the BBC in particular. Try though he might to be inclusive there is limit to the extent quotas of sub standard contributors can be tolerated simply in the cause of a balance that much of the Party and country see as a dishonest construct in the first place. In fact the blogasphere is in , many ways a reaction to the Liberal bias of the main stream media . That is why you will many views expressed that you would consider “un PC”. I have myself complained that women, Liberals and others that add little are over represented on Doughty Street but one understands the wish to create debate

I think the answer is for the Libs to set up their own . I `m surprised they have not. It s an interesting side point that many of the left regard Blogs as areas of public mingling and expect to have an equal share of what is , in a strange virtual sense, someone else property. Will they never learn.

We can be certain that Liberals will find views opposed to their own from the right “Beyond the Pale” and “Unacceptable” and all the other mantras of the quasi –intelligentsia that has sustained the establishment unchallenged for so long. Their own forum will be closed. It always is.

From my point of view the ads are balanced. Perhaps I`m right.The political slant of the output is still vastly more left slanted than the community supporting it .

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

Does anyone actually watch it? I logged in for the first time a few days ago (to watch a friend make a fool of herself) but found it quite difficult to 'log in'.

Tony said...

I only found your post after happening across similar if less articulate comments on The Daily.

I have posted about this from my own perspective on my blog, the Waendel Journal.

Tristan said...

State funding of political parties (at any level) is something which liberals should be against too, it is basically a way to protect the incumbent and the status quo.
Its actually more surprising that some Tories are choosing to oppose it (then again, Iain Dale is a fairly liberal Tory).

As for the attack add on Ken. Good for them, they are saying things which don't get said because Ken has so many resources to promote himself at his disposal.

18 Doughty Street does have a right wing bias, although its actually rather liberal whenever I've watched it. Small state, individual freedom fare (that is pre-socialist left wing ;) )
If there's not enough lefties on it, then they should offer to go on it. To be honest, its rather refreshing to hear views other than the establishment big state views...

Anonymous said...

It makes you wonder if 18 Doughty Street was set up all the times as a new means of supporting the Tories and that it is just an attempt to sucker people in to watching something that they beleive to be unbiased, but will be running a subliminal message "VOTE TORY VOTE TORY VOTE TORY"

Samuel Coates said...

The video themes are more anti-establishment than conservative.

Highlighting too many taxes, the stitch-up that is state funding of political parties, attacking the record of the London Mayor, showing why we shouldn't take the US for granted, and the next one being against selling arms to countries with bad human rights records (such as Typhoons to Saudi).

What's wrong with promoting these issues?!

Alex Wilcock said...

Well-summated, Nich, but I must just smile at the rant by 'Newmania' against "Liberals".

By definition, Liberals have a rather better record on freedom of speech than conservatives... Though I wouldn't expect 'Newmania' to notice, as someone who fails to see the irony in shrilly maintaining that of Liberals that "Their own forum will be closed. It always is" on, er, a Liberal's comment forum. Not the brightest spark in the firebrand, there.

Iain Dale said...

Nich, I would have thought better of you. None of us have hidden our political leanings, but we have loads of people on from other parties - Mark Pack from LibDem HQ was on this week. Chris Rennard is coming on soon. Nick Clegg, Jo Swinson, Paul Rowen, Lynne Featherstone have not only all appeared on the channel, they allhave said they will come back. In fact Lynne has - three times!

The Livinstone ad attacks Livingstone. It does not say VOTE CONSERVATIVE. In fact it benefits the LibDems just as much as the Conservatives.

Peter Tatchell hosts a weekly programme. Yasmin Alibhai Brown is about to start a regular programme with me.

On the State Funding issue I oppose the Conservative Party line on this. David Cameron is in favour of more state funding I am not. I could not have been clearer on this.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Iain, I've not suggested that you've hidden your own leanings. What I have said, and I made reference myself to guests from many different political spheres, is that 18DS is in danger of being more than just a politics channel, it is in danger of lecturing us.

I beleive the Ken attack ad would be labelled as bad journalism if anyone else had done it. The stuff about spending £2 million on celebrating Fidel Castro's birthday was simply silly, and people have given the full facts behind this in messages to your blog.

You are very fair in your handling of debates Iain. I simply make the case, 18 Doughty Street is becoming something that is trying to affect people's politics rather than reporting on people's politics. When 18DS is such a Tory "vehicle", then this can only benefit the Conservative party.

Iain Dale said...

Nich, We have never said we were reporting on politics. We are not a news gathering organisation. We are a channel which debates issues and invites people with opinions.

In fact, next time you are in London it'd be great to have you on! Maybe with Richard!

Oh, and one thing I forgot in the last post. Yes, I am indeed a Trustee of Policy Exchange and have never hidden the fact. However, it never ceases to amaze me that just because of that link people assume I therefor must support Nicholas Boles for Mayor of London. Next week I am interviewing Steve Norris on 18 Doughty Street. Does that show that I support him? I haven't decided who to support, largely because there are very few decalred candidates yet. Indeed, Nicholas Boles hasn't actually declared his candidacy so far as I am aware!

Newmania said...

Nicholas Boles hasn't actually declared his candidacy so far as I am aware

Try googling Nic boles.!!!

ho ho

Newmania said...

Oh Justin , I watch it , its very good

Norfolk Blogger said...


If I am in London, I would be delighted to come on your show. My post was never an attack on you, just the direction the station was taking. However, my London visits are few and far between, mainly school trips and I am not sure you'd want me turning up with 25 twelve year olds !

dizzy said...

Iain, you don't have a rigth to support any mayoral candidate unless you move house. :-p