Thursday, March 18, 2010

When the Tories do a Berlusconi

Lawyers gag a BBC documentary on Lord Ashcroft.

I used to think that, for all their faults, the Conservatives could be trusted to not be as arrogant and confrontational as Italian Emperor and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi.

Most of their ideas may still be a little backwards on social issues and perhaps overly right-wing on economics and workers' rights, but I was convinced that a typically British sense of fairness, principles and liberty would prevent them from slipping down the Berlusconi way.

For the unfamiliar, the Berlusconi way consists in silencing the media (or the remaining bits that don't belong to him) in the run-up to elections. The Italian PM was caught red handed in 18 tapped telephone calls, ordering national TV network RAI to gag all political programmes and talk shows in the weeks prior to the forthcoming regional elections across Italy (incidentally, his suggested ban did go ahead).

This morning, the Independent reports that BBC Panorama was silenced by Lord Ashcroft's lawyers.

The Corporation was about to broadcast a documentary about the controversial tax affairs of the Tory billionaire but, according to the Independent, "[the BBC] has received what one insider described as 'several very heavy letters' from Lord Ashcroft's lawyers [and] there is now little or no prospect of the investigation being broadcast before the general election, if it goes out at all".

The paper also reports delight in David Cameron's camp as the issue of Lord Ashcroft peerage and tax affairs has been seen at odds with the Conservatives' image of "change", contributing towards disappointing ratings in recent opinion polls.


Stan Moss said...

Genius doctoring.

Taronja said...

I don't know who's worse off there really, Berlusconi or Cameron...

DomFisher said...

OTOH Ashcroft has been subject to a lot of false reporting over the years. You do know that, don't you?