15 Apr 2009

On G20 day, we had nothing better to do

You may have found the past few days of revelations concerning the inner workings of Downing Street, a heartbeat from the prime minister, hard to credit.

But how about this? On the day the G20 summit met in London’s Docklands, we asked people – mainly via Twitter – to keep an eye open for anyone out there possibly using the event (in the words of sacked official Jo Moore) as a “good day to bury bad news”.

Somebody entitled the head of strategic and digital communications at Downing Street, Mark Flanagan (himself presumably a heartbeat from the now former head of strategy, Damian McBride), emailed the following within an hour of our posting.

“Haven’t you people got anything better to do?”

This as the man the most urgent heartbeat away – Gordon Brown – was in that very moment hosting the most important and prestigious gathering of world leaders to meet in London since the 1940s.

Now there’s a team that’s got its priorities sorted.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4

16 reader comments

  1. Michael Donnelly says:

    Jon, why would such a well-respected and talented, experienced journalist like yourself keep playing into Cameron’s hands?

    I’m beginning to wonder whether the media can see it’s own faults…the more written criticising the Westminster Government…the easier it will be for those bluebloods to win the next election.

    I most certainly will not live here through a Tory government…and I’m surprised you want to Jon.

    1. Tina Louise says:

      Donnolly: Are you suggesting the news should cease reporting on the down-sides of our current government… for fear of the next?

  2. jennie says:

    Mr Flanagan seems to be unaware that one of the major functions of the Fourth Estate is to act as a check and balance on the others by reporting on what is actually happening rather than parroting press releases. How do people get to have titles like “Head of Strategic and Digital Communications” without knowing this?

  3. Oscar says:

    Keep doing your job to gather news. In contrast to Mr Donnelly, most viewers see you as pro-Labour! I personally will not stay here through a further Brown government.

    Maybe Mr Flanagan was hoping to slide something out and you spoilt it. Feel free to criticise any and all parties or governments, especially this lot of freedom hating fools.

  4. Nick Christian says:

    “In contrast to Mr Donnelly, most viewers see you as pro-Labour!”

    Utter nonsense. Although I can’t speak for “most viewers”, most people I know wouldn’t, politically speaking, see you as pro anyone. Which is exactly as it should be.

    As far as “playing into the Cameron’s hands”, Mr Donnelly needs to wake up to how far Labour has drifted and how little difference there really is between the two. Although I can’t imagine ever voting Tory and would marginally prefer another 4/5 years of Brown, the Nu-Labour betrayal and metamorphosis has been so pervasive and plenary that I couldn’t possibly cross the box for them either.

    Creative ballot-spoiling suggestions welcome.

  5. Simon Gardner says:

    Not at all. Not only do I not find the “revelations” surprising but I rather thought everyone expected and assumed this sort of thing went on and is going on both here and over the pond.

    I must be too conversant with politics and politicians but I still fail to understand what the fuss has been about.

  6. Mike Hind says:

    What depresses me about this is the similarities with the last days of the Major government. Being a Labour supporter is now increasingly difficult to justify. I feel betrayed. Still won’t vote for Dave though – you just know there’s something deeply sinister under that skin.

    And… without wishing to sound sycophantic, Snow is one of a rare breed of journalists who stands for truth and fairness, not political partisanship. That will always give an apparently leftish patina to him.

  7. e davis says:

    I would say that Jon Snow is one of the most pro Labour journalists around. The recent interview with Damian Green is a case in point. Why Jon do you not scrutinize government ministers in the same way?

  8. Matthew says:

    Why do all our comments have to be shown in these wobbly italics?

    I was going to advise Nick Christian (and Mike Hide) to consider the Green Party as a much better alternative to a protest vote, or abstention, for disillusioned lefties, but as it is this silly font makes me seem like a shouty weirdo. And don’t get me started on the spell-check not accepting the word ‘shouty’…

    It just goes to show you can’t be too careful.

  9. Adil Hasan says:

    I wish that the New Labour party were socialists. But, sadly they’re all of roughly the same ilk. Once they manage to get their noses into the trough their high-ideals disappear (maybe it’s the cheap high-quality food in the House of Commons canteen that does it).

    Lets face it most of them are lawyers, people that have made a living out of twisting facts and finding loopholes in laws that others in their right-mind would not go looking for.

    I am heartened to see many here are not fooled by the sheep’s clothing the Conservatives are wearing.

    I doubt the Greens, Liberals or anyone would be better. There needs to be changes such that Government is actually answerable for all the legislation it puts in place.

    For example, how can a party have a ‘3-line-whip’ on an issue if the issue itself is contrary to wishes of the people the government is meant to represent?

    I for one would be terribly disappointed to see the Conservatives back in power. It would signify we have learnt nothing from the past 20 years of right-wing Government.

    PS Why is the spell-checker using an American-English dictionary?

  10. Michael Donnelly says:

    The point for me is, that I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Jon Snow as a journalist. He is one of the key figures which make channel 4 news worth watching.

    However, whether the current Westminster Government have drifted or not is besides what I see as a broken system. It should be the voters which decide who gets to be the next Prime Minister… not our esteemed columnists and whistleblowers.

    Ever since “it was the Sun what won it” it has been apparent that the media influences election results too much in this set of nations known as the UK.

    And also it’s a spot of sour grapes from myself, at the fact there are no socialists or egalitarian believers left in that “House of Commons.”

    Lets hope the referendum gets passed in 2011 and you won’t have to hear my musings about English politicians anymore.

  11. M . Hooper says:


    Your interview with Damian Green was a disgrace. GROOMING? If the police arrested an opposition MP for doing his job anywhere in the world you would be outraged. NOT if his is a TORY. Your default position is always attack the Tory.

  12. Oscar says:

    Mike, I wonder if you can see the inherent absurdity and contradiction in your last sentence.

    Apparently, objectivity is a subjective matter.

  13. Tina Louise says:

    Perhaps you hit the nail on the head Oscar when you said
    …”Maybe Mr Flanagan was hoping to slide something out and you spoilt it.”

    The speed of contact and breadth of coverage offered with sites like Twitter, mean it is harder for those in the public eye to control the way they are depicted.

    I was wondering this morning at where we wouldbe today – if ‘we the people’ had not been filming the protests at G20?

    -Ian Tomlinson would be quietly buried, having died of a heart attack

    -The protestors would have been remembered as having thrown a ‘barrage of bottles’ at those police trying to ‘help’ Ian Tomlinson

    -The images of the G20 protests that we would recall… would be of ‘extreme protestors’ smashing windows

    -The police and government would be talking about stronger powers to avoid more violence BY protestors

    No-one wants to believe our police will hide their ID numbers, conceal their features with balaclavas and attack the public – but they DID.

    Channel 4 News is more than embracing new media – it is seizing an opportunity to do its jobs better – in my opinion, they are doing great work.

  14. Tina Louise says:

    I agree – never see C4 News team members as anything political – just media doing their job better than most and in a non-political leaning way.

    You talked about voting Nick and I don’t understand why you don’t vote LibDem/independent/Green or other then… at least you would be voting for what you truly want, rather than simply siding with a party because you want to back a winner?

    If we ALL voted honestly – we would have a better chance of honest government and the political picture would be vastly different from the awful norm.

  15. Dennis Junior says:

    Jon: I think that he conducts his Reports in a fair way and criticises everyone in the same way!

Comments are closed.