Ashcroft privatises politics (home)…..
When Lord Ashcroft took a controlling stake in the holding company that owns Politics Home you always knew there would be trouble ahead. Since it also owns Conservative Home and Conservative Intelligence and, of course, Ashcroft is busy bankrolling the Conservatives election campaign the first fears were about editorial independence and impartiality.
However, to be fair the same editorial team was kept-on and its been hard to detect a significant shift towards a Conservative-bias. Maybe this is because the real Ashcroft agenda is the commercilisation of Politics Home and its transformation into a cash-cow for his personal (and possibly the Conservative Parties) gain. He is obviously shrewd enough to realise that were Politics Home to become known as biased its appeal on the wider market as a credible news source would be dented.
Amoung the changes it has announced week is the launch of ‘Politics Home Pro’ which we are informed will in due course become ‘paid service’. However, ‘dont fear’ we are told because;
there will be special deals for party officers, bloggers and the like!
Are you getting more for your money? The answer has to be a candid no because even the blurb concedes it is little more than an extension you were before getting free;
This takes what PoliticsHome used to do and just does it much, much better
Hardly a convincing pitch is it? What Politics Home currently does for free happens to be to provide a good news service for politicos but the quality of the pitch is a side-issue; the real issue is that it is wrong to commercialise news in such a way because it goes against the democratic right that people have to access it. Access to news sources, especially on the internet, should not be determined by a persons ability to pay. Also, how is it fair to ask bloggers etc from across the political spectrum to potentially bankroll the Conservative Party (via Ashcroft)? Will there be guarantees that none of the money paid in fees will find its way to CCHQ or any Conservative Association?
What is happening is Politics Home is likely to be the thin-end of the wedge. I doubt its commercial wisdom as there may well be a backlash against introducing charging and it is unquestionably something that is bad for democracy and politics.