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The slow death of the Westminster Lobby: collateral damage from the MPs' expenses scandal
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 19:55 authored by Ivor GaberIvor Gaber
Much has been written about the potential impact of the MPs expenses scandal on the standing of MPs and overall trust in government. One admittedly less important fall-out from the scandal has been to expose the Westminster Lobby as being perhaps too close to politicians and too far from their audiences. This article suggests that the scandal represented for the Lobby a terminal moment in its continuing slide into irrelevance and decline. However, this decline did not begin on the 8th May when the Daily Telegraph began its coverage of the scandal, but can be traced back several decades earlier, and can be attributed to a number of major changes in the United Kingdom's political and media environments that have been taking place over the past 30 years. Specifically, these changes are: the nature of politics at Westminster, changes in the wider body politic, developments in media and communications technology, changes in the United Kingdom's media culture, and finally, the small 'c' conservative culture of Lobby journalists themselves, who have played a crucial role in presiding over their own demise. The scandal provided a graphic illustration of how out-of-touch both MPs, and the journalists who report on them, have become. The scandal has not caused the demise of the Lobby but it can be seen as symbolising its increasing irrelevance. © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan.
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