What’s this news going to do to Lib Dem conference coverage?

What’s this news going to do to Lib Dem conference coverage?

Could some yellows be a bit relieved?

There was a time when the Lib Dems looked to their spring conference as a platform that, hopefully would lead to some media coverage in the run-up to the May local elections. This year things look set to be different with the narrative framed by the challenges of being in coalition and their 6th place in the Barnsley by-election.

But could all that be much reduced by this morning’s terrible news from Japan?

During my decade or so as an editor with BBC news there was one thing that we were reminded of time and time again – that no story has intrinsic value in itself. Everything is dependent on what is going on elsewhere – as we saw with the “good moment to bury bad news” comment from that hapless NuLab press officer in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

The Lib Dem spring conference is taking place in, of all places, Sheffield – only a few miles down the road from Barnsley.

The hoped for message that the party was holding its nerve and the repetition of areas of policy where the junior coalition partners says it has had an impact doesn’t fit with the media narrative and we could have expected acres of coverage of problems.

Then came the news from Japan and that looks set to dominate the bulltetins and headlines for days. It’s hard to see the the LDs getting too much of a look-in and I wonder if some in the leadership might be a bit relieved.

Mike Smithson

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