Newsroom wrote: “Phone hacking, reprehensible as it is, has …

Comment posted Commons Culture Committee loses all perspective in Murdoch declaration by Mairi.

Newsroom wrote:
“Phone hacking, reprehensible as it is, has not lost lives, to the best of our knowledge.”
The Watson parents from Glasgow would disagree; they contend that thoughtless, groundless, amoral press coverage can result in death. They shared their tragic story near the start of Leveson’s inquiry. And I believe that there are other victims who would agree.
But rather than getting into ‘which is the worst of multiple wrongs’, it is, I believe, a defensible position to say: In the regulated business of media ownership, special standards need to apply. And that the selective amnesia displayed by Rupert at least casts doubt on his fitness to run a UK regulated media business where proprietor conduct is open to scrutiny.
Even football sets ‘fit and proper’ standards. And media companies, given their power and influence, cannot conduct themselves with impunity, as Leveson is showing.

Mairi also commented

  • The whole report is going to the full House of Commons for a vote. I wonder what way the SNP MPs will vote? Will they follow the Tories through the lobby, agreeing that Rupert is a ‘fit person’ to run a media empire?

Recent comments by Mairi

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    Fiona, I agree with you that there is – and always will be – a place for specialist services –whether for maternity or anything else. With you 100% on that.

    Both guidelines on what scanning should be done, and the qualifications necessary for who can do scanning have changed in recent years. The qualification/ training is a major change – because whereas previously midwives did a one week course, now they (or radiographers) need to do a one-year post-graduate course. Such is the level of skill and capability once you’ve done that course, that apparently a decreasing number of obstetricians now turn their hand to scanning. So I’m led to believe that it would only be a very rare scan that would ever need a centre of expertise. That said, in such circumstances, there would probably be a need for a consultant obstetrician too – so regardless of the sonography capabilities of local midwives, a pregnant woman would need to travel to a centre of excellence.
    And I also applaud your past efforts, and can understand how pessimism can set in.

    Call me mad (love your analogy, by the way!) but I do believe (as I think you do) that we owe it to each other to battle for what we believe is right. I’ve fought battles in the past, won some and lost some. The successes are vital – they give all of us confidence. People in the NHS are first to admit that it can be a difficult organisation in which to bring about change. I should know – I worked in the NHS in both England and in Scotland – for the old Argyll & Clyde Health Board. So I’ve got first-hand experience. And I’ve also got maternity services first-hand experience – having two daughters of my own.

    I’m going to keep going. So many women have been in touch telling me about their awful experiences. There are available solutions that can improve at least part of the overall care they receive. It’s collective will that’s needed to make it happen. From all the politicians, managers, users and others you mention. If you ever want to dip your toe in the water again … let me know. Sounds like you’ve got all the credentials ;)

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    Hi Fiona

    That’s very interesting – it just shows what can be done. Thanks for sending that.

    The plans to bring back scanning would mean that all scans could be done locally – not just the 12 week / confirmation ones. It would also mean that ad hoc and emergency scanning could be done here – something that currently means a round trip and often an overnight stay for what can be a ten minute scan.

    From what people say, this latest reduction of what’s available locally seems like the straw that broke the camel’s back. If this campaign on scanning can act as a catalyst to reviving the Maternity Services User Groups across Argyll & Bute, and with renewed focus on this vital service, bringing about a wide range of improvements – as happened in Angus – then it will have succeeded.

    Thanks for your good wishes!

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    The campaign seeks three things, in summary:

    1. The restoration of local scanning
    2. Better communication with service users
    3. More support from the Scottish Government.

    And I count the challenge and correspondence between myself and the officials – in both Inverness and Edinburgh – as part of the whole campaign. When I first wrote to the NHS Highland Chief Executive, the expert/ review group hadn’t even met. So pressure was being brought to bear long before the PPF meeting you refer to.

    Had they got their skates on immediately after the September 2013 service withdrawal and reached a decision to do what’s now planned (however insufficient we may believe that to be), we could have had midwives being trained from September 2014, and some degree of service restoration from autumn 2015. Instead of what we now face, namely starting training in the autumn of 2015, and services a year later.

    Success, such as we’ve witnessed, has been to articulate – publicly – some limited progress on the local service restoration. But I think a lot more needs to be done on this front to accelerate local scanning. As stated, that could be by bringing sonographers from elsewhere to our hospitals (as stated above or locums), training our midwives, or recruitment of trained professionals.

    I believe that a very positive achievement on the second point, re communication, is to establish Maternity Services User Groups across the area. Ideally, they should be part of a wider piece of governance to ensure that services are consistent across the area. The NHS managers themselves, in their announcement too, lamented the inconsistency in what’s been available across Argyll & Bute.

    This is progress. Bringing service users and public authorities together can be a challenging process for all parties – yet it’s incredibly powerful and worth pursuing.

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    Hi Fiona

    Routine ultrasound scanning is no longer offered anywhere in Argyll & Bute. This service was withdrawn in September 2013.

    The National Screening Programme is designed – among other things – to minimise infant mortality. So while no one can be compelled to attend for a scan, the higher the uptake, the greater the chances that problems will be spotted and dealt with.

    At the public meeting in Oban last week, several people raised questions relating more generally to maternity services, and one way of addressing them is to get involved in the Maternity Services User Groups that NHS Highland has committed to setting up. This is a good move, in my view, and would be a good place to bring up the concerns you have.

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    Hi Lowry

    I was made aware of this issue almost a year ago which is when I first approached the Health Board.

    You’re wrong to suggest that plans were developed before I took notice because when I first contacted the NHS Highland Chief Executive their ‘expert group’ tasked with recommending what to do hadn’t even met. Services stopped in September 2013, and their first meeting was in July 2014. An unacceptably long delay: Babies were conceived and born in that period yet the Health Board couldn’t even hold a meeting to decide what to do.

    I wanted to establish all the facts and take action based on what I discovered. So I’ve been researching what happens in other areas, asking questions of the Scottish Government and making inquiries with other organisations who have an interest in this topic. What we’re campaigning for is well-researched and supported by professionals and users alike.

    Very little communication has taken place since services stopped. The meeting I organised in Oban last week was the first time there had been any public engagement in almost 18 months. User involvement is now happening as a direct consequence. So my interventions have made a difference, I’d suggest.

    Normally you contributions are incisive, Lowry, but you’re wrong about when I started to take an interest in this issue. And my interventions have made a difference so far, for example in promoting and establishing User Groups.

    Crucially, I’m now also challenging how robust and resilient the new plans are. I’m not convinced, and the extra questions I’m asking need to be answered if we want a service that works and stands the test of time. That’s what any campaigner, candidate or representative should be doing.

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31 Responses to Newsroom wrote: “Phone hacking, reprehensible as it is, has …

  1. I suppose any politician in a democracy has to try not to alienate the moguls of the news media, with their ability to form public opinion (to put it politely), but it gives those moguls immense power over the workings of democracy.
    There’s a clear risk of abuse and – in the case of the Murdoch dynasty – increasing power in the hands of people who aren’t British citizens, and who cannot be assumed to have the interests of us Brits at heart any more than they do those of the country that made them, the country they’ve grown too big for. That’s not to say they’re unique – from Robert Maxwell through Conrad Black there have arguably been worse, and now we’ve got a pornographer, and more recently a Russian oligarch. Surely there’s a need for some form of closer vetting of people buying themselves influence over our politicians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • I agree. The BBC and BBC Scotland in particular are often lamentable.
      Only today with a revised schedule Politics Today failed to cover FMQ although there was no clash with Prime Minister’s Questions as Westminster has, apparently, “risen” Instead, we were treated to a long and extremely boring discussion about drought which Andrew Neil assured us was affecting “the entire nation” About time sonebody gave him a ring from Paisley.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Robert – you and your pals are so verbally aggressive and offensive – what’s wrong with you all ? Anyway far too busy to continue with this so enjoy ! Some good headlines on Salmond in the media today – Cheers !

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Obviously, Simon, you’ve missed the point again. I suppose we should be used to that by now.
    Salmond has been all over all the papers on this issue, mostly front page, so your link is entirely redundant and immaterial.

    Which newspaper had Milliband all over it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. The Sun, obviously, only not in Scotland.

    I am a fan of the Newspaper Review that takes place at 1130 pm on SkyNews where two assorted media people comment on the newspapers as they are published. Obviously the issues that they cover are the important “metropolitan” ones and I am struck at the variations that appear on the Scottish editions when I see them on my newsagents displays the next morning.

    The Daily Telegraph and the Scottish (sic) Daily Mail regularly and The Times and the Scottish (ha ha) Daily Express frequently carry anti-Scottish Government slants to their front covers. These sell so few copies here that we needn’t be unduly concerned at any influence that they might aspire to.

    The Guardian, though well presented and written, makes few, if any concessions to the Scottish political scene, I suspect that Scottish Labour, while useful at one time, causes them some embarassment, and I am surprised that it sells here at all.

    The Record, bless it, sticks rigorously to the old Labour line apart from Joan MacAlpine once a week, and the other red tops seem much more interested in Simon Cowell than in our one.

    Labour’s sour grapes at losing the support of The Sun seem like a gross over reaction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Robert,

        I have to confess I have never bought it although it seldom seems to follow the pack and its front pages are mostly original in design and approach.Should I give it a try?

        I don’t buy it myself but I read the P&J closely every day in connection with my work and the Argyll & Bute weeklies but I find FA a very useful source of opinion and reaction.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • Worth a try, I think (and I must admit to not reading the P&J though it’s clearly often worth checking (but not always – it seems to have fought shy of some of the Aberdeen city business / politics ‘affairs’ of recent years, maybe for good commercial reasons and supporting Newsroom’s comment ‘as with our utilities and major businesses’)

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. The whole report is going to the full House of Commons for a vote. I wonder what way the SNP MPs will vote? Will they follow the Tories through the lobby, agreeing that Rupert is a ‘fit person’ to run a media empire?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Newsroom wrote:
    “Phone hacking, reprehensible as it is, has not lost lives, to the best of our knowledge.”
    The Watson parents from Glasgow would disagree; they contend that thoughtless, groundless, amoral press coverage can result in death. They shared their tragic story near the start of Leveson’s inquiry. And I believe that there are other victims who would agree.
    But rather than getting into ‘which is the worst of multiple wrongs’, it is, I believe, a defensible position to say: In the regulated business of media ownership, special standards need to apply. And that the selective amnesia displayed by Rupert at least casts doubt on his fitness to run a UK regulated media business where proprietor conduct is open to scrutiny.
    Even football sets ‘fit and proper’ standards. And media companies, given their power and influence, cannot conduct themselves with impunity, as Leveson is showing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Wouldn’t disagree with any of this – but moral standpoints come a touch rich from politicians who vote through on false premises measures affecting the nation; and who close ranks for party advantage against indefensible wrongs – like the war in Iraq and extraordinary rendition.
      We have no quarrel with the Murdoch judgment, per se (although it is over-egged) but with the source of it – aggravated to a secondary degree by the fact that the committee members’ combined management experience of anything substantial will be on the slender side.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • So Newsroom
        Are all our politicians a parcel of rogues with no moral compass or just some of them? If you blame all of them, then your premise could be that the masses should rise up as one and remove them. Or, on the other hand, just some in the Executive are evil and corrupt and we let the due process of law deal with them. Is this your argument or have I missed the facts that would support your position?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Whatever the failings of Rupert Murdoch the anxiety of parliamentarians and hacks to condemn him while police investigations are ongoing show a complete contempt for a basic feature of our constitution, the separation of powers. And the rule of law.

    I would rather put my trust in the police and prosecution authorities even with their imperfections than politicians and journalist who are opportunistic in concealing their own misdeeds.

    By all means have a public enquiry after the production authorities have completed their enquiries and justice has taken it’s course but let’s not let politicians undermine the judicial process

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Mairi “I wonder what way the SNP MPs will vote? Will they follow the Tories through the lobby”

    My prediction is they’ll abstain.

    Just as they did way back then – ‘the snp those wonderful politicos that gave you Maggie Thatcher’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Newsie – this comment is a pile of odure “the committee members’ combined management experience of anything substantial will be on the slender side”.

    So, let analyse what you are saying here – it reads like ‘if someone does not have private sector management experience they are not fit to judge those who do’???

    Is that really what you are saying??

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Simon,
    That simply will not wash and the oft repeated lie does not become any more true from repetition ad nauseum.
    What gave “us” Thatcher was the everwhelming votes of the UK electorate, although Scots remained doggedly unenthusiastic, and the UK electors sadly gave us her more than once.

    The majority verdict of the Culture Committee appears to have been driven by the obsessive Tom Watson, MP, who blythely manages to overlook the long association of Blair/Brown with News International,e.g. the numerous back door visits to 10 Downing Street, the invitation to be Godfather( is that not appropriate?)to one of Bliar’s children, the sudden dash by Blair to attend a Far East Murdoch summit and the sad huff by Brown when the relationship went sour.

    There is an effective Peter Brookes cartoon in today’s Times with Tom Harris stating

    After months of evidence…
    from this vile, corrupt and morally bankrupt company…
    our committee is ready to publish…
    my forgeone conclusions.

    Sadly by following his lead the Committee has effectively ended with its credibility and its deliberations tainted by overstepping its brief and blindly following the party line.

    Needless to state Mr Harris has a book published!

    I note that Jim Sheridan is one of the Labour committee members and that in itself would cause me concern. Those who saw him on Newsnight Scotland on Tuesday night will understand what I mean.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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