The Hacked Off Leveson petition stinks to high heaven. The BBC reported the launch of the petition on Friday (complete with convenient link) and then relentlessly promoted it on Radio 4 news programmes for the next two days. I could not think of a better way of targeting the woolly-headed, bien pensant left. And it was all for free!
The BBC puffed it on the Radio 4 PM programme on Friday when it was 16,000. It made it the lead item on the Friday 7pm news bulletin, a totally disproportionate editorial decision, when it was at 24,000. The BBC pushed it again on the Radio 4 Saturday lunchtime news when it was over 50,000. As of the time of writing it stands at 125,000.
It is worth noting that the BBC did not report Swedish MEP Cecilia Malmstrom’s One Seat petition until that reached one million. Similarly with Peter Roberts’ road pricing petition. It is also worth noting that Robert’s petition successfully used the No 10 petitions site which asked people for their addresses as well as e-mail addresses and then asked them to confirm back that they were real people from their e-mail inboxes. The Hacked Off petition just asks for a name and e-mail.
This morning the Daily Mail is reporting that the Labour party has been using its e-mail lists to push the petition too (after first trying to use Leveson as yet another vehicle to suck up the e-mail addresses of the vulnerable). I wonder how respectful of that private data it will be when election time comes around? On Friday Miliband was saying sign our petition but had switched to backing the BBC endorsed Hacked Off petition on Saturday.
Hacked Off is partisan and represents a very narrow sectional interest. The way it and the Media Standards Trust are trying to skew the debate on Leveson is inimical to our democracy.