After writing yesterday of the Independent’s Murdoch-baiting, you could bet that I wasn’t going to be a slouch when I heard and saw the lovely lady dishing out free copies of the paper in my city centre this lunchtime. Oh no. I was over to her quicker than Tsegaye Kebede, ready to see for myself. Inside, a neat editorial manifesto sets out what the Indy’s hoping to achieve with this election giveaway, which I am delighted to note is planned to continue until 6 May. It doesn’t appear that James Murdoch’s tirades have dissuaded anyone from sticking the boot in on his Daddy in the slightest:
Rupert Murdoch’s mighty media empire has become a propaganda machine on behalf of the Conservatives
Yet the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the other smaller parties are routinely ignored by the media. The Independent is hoping to redress this, while remaining true to the name on the masthead and not swinging behind any one political party. How refreshing!
The paper continues, rueing the manner in which serious issues are being ‘ignored or underplayed’ by the main parties, giving the examples of Afghanistan – even as troops die there, their continued deployment goes undebated and largely unmentioned – as well as climate change, where politicians are dangerously out of step with wider opinions.
As the Liberal Democrats have noted in today’s horse trading over hung parliament outcomes, our electoral system is badly broken. The Independent is an old hand at this game having launched, with ‘tens of thousands’ of readers backing it, a petition seeking reform after the last election. Their archive reveals Labour wasn’t always so reluctant to talk to the Lib Dems about the subject. The paper also extols the benefits an elected House of Lords, fixed-term parliaments, active membership of the EU, robust economic reform and a revival of liberal democracy would bring to the UK. All the stuff that has small-l liberals swooning. What is the Murdoch empire going to chuck back at that? Page 3 and Dear Deirdre?
So far they’re ticking all my boxes but will there be room for insightful football coverage? I fear that the Indy might disdain football, with its pampered millionaires, gargantuan debt and stonking carbon footprint. So it is with some trepidation that I flip to the back pages, expecting to find coverage of Woodcraft Folk-esque non-competitive games. But worry ye not, sports fans, the back section looks good enough to keep even the most avid of us happy.
Pick up one of these free copies and there is an offer to subscribe at a reduced rate. I confess I have never been loyal enough to any paper to consider doing such a thing – do they guarantee to have it with you before the morning commute begins? – but once the free thing ends, I might be back to drop a few groats in their pockets.