Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Olly Grender Live

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 25th May, 2011

This evening Olly Grender, political pundit and communications expert, gave Liberal Democrats several reasons to be cheerful, fearful and even tearful, though for once not on Newnsight’s tripartite line-up or the BBC’s This Week but at an Islington local party’s Pizza and Politics. While admitting some things had been handled badly — the tuition fees débacle, notably — she underlined the fact that much of the mainstream media has seriously got it in for the LibDems in government, and of course for Nick Clegg in particular. As she pointed out, there is not one single LibDem columnist on any major newspaper, which makes it all the more important for party members to use new media such as Twitter, both to promote good news and views and to comment. We could also do with a few more high-powered Talking Heads (other than Cabinet Ministers) appearing on TV; her former boss Paddy Ashdown got an honoroable mention in this regard. Using new media, including Facebook, is even more important these days, as the old Penhaligon-Rennard mantra of pushing one’s messages out ad nauseam through people’s letter-boxes has had its day. Leaflet blitzing certainly delivered us some parliamentary by-elections in the past — Brent East was a classic case — but the electorate is now tired of it, and understandably so. We have to think of new ways of communicating, in both the air war and the ground war (to adopt the jargon beloved of Cowley Street). In the meantime, though, Olly is heartened by how steadfast most LibDem activists have remained, despite the media hostility, the combined onslaught of both the Tory Right and the Labour Right, and electoral knocks. We are in for the long haul in this Coalition government, and if the economy does recover sufficiently before May 2015, perhaps people will start praising us rather than cursing us by then.



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