LondonUnlocked: rather a bit too shy about their Tory donor roots

Posted by Tim Ireland at 20 December 2008

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

This entry was posted on
Saturday, December 20th, 2008
at
10:30 pm and is filed
under Tories! Tories! Tories!.

Boris Watch – The Ever So ‘Independent’ LondonUnlocked.org: Also, there’s only one registered user – ‘Editor’ – who has no email address, there are few or no comments, and who’s this Maurice Bennett? …. So there we are, LondonUnlocked.org is funded and supported by a wealthy Conservative donor (to the tune of at least £500k) with business interests a lot of shops, presumably including some in central London. As far as I can see they don’t mention the Conservative connection *anywhere*, although I’m open to correction. Personally, I think they’ve got some explaining to do.

But… but… but… surely we’ve been told time and again by independent right-wing bloggers that blogs don’t cost money… and if blogs don’t cost money, then surely there can’t be Tory money behind any independent right-wing bloggers. It’s simple logic, people.

(rolls eyes)

Details about clear party-political influence/affiliation do appear to be denied and hidden rather than declared and highlighted on the London Unlocked site. The author(s)/publisher(s) behind it should probably try to explain just what is going on over there.

UPDATE (24 Dec) – I asked a question and actually got an answer instead of feigned outrage and/or personal abuse. If it’s a right-wing website, the author has lost their technical manual. Full text from that answer appears below the fold.

[—– fold ——]

>> —– Original Message —–>> From: “LondonUnlocked”>> To: Tim Ireland>>>>>> Hi Tim,>>>> Thanks for your message.>>>> Just to make things clear, LondonUnlocked is an independent site. It>> has been from the outset.>>>> I think that if you look over the past posts that have appeared on the>> different incarnations of the site, you’ll find that we have been>> balanced in our views, and have offered a mix of criticism and support>> to whomever happened to be in power at the time, be it Ken Livingstone>> or Boris Johnson. You might be interested to know that whilst we held>> back from a fully-fledged endorsement at the last mayoral election, we>> backed the transport priorities of the Lib Dem candidate, Brian>> Paddick.>>>> I presume that your main point is that as Maurice Bennett funded the>> set-up and maintenance of the site (and has donated to the Tories in>> the past) that we are a Tory ‘sleeper’ site, or something similar.>> Well, that simply is not the case. What MB does with his own time, and>> with his own money has no impact on the site or its editorial direction>> whatsoever. If you read the other ‘about’ pages on the site you’ll see>> that he funded a design competition ‘A Car Free London’>> ( http://www.economist.com/world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_NDTNSG>> ) back in 1999, and has a long-standing interest in>> transport in London. Even with that competition, which he gave to the>> Architecture Foundation to run, he was hands off.>>>> I’d like to think that the web offers the opportunity for people to put>> their views out there, and that the sheer diversity of opinion>> available allows the reader to make their own minds up about which>> sources they trust/ignore/agree, or have a healthy discussion with.>> We’ve never been anything but honest about who the site is funded by,>> but as our posts don’t lean politically one way or the other (at least>> consistently!), I feel that putting something on the front-page about>> MB’s political affiliations would be both out of place and unnecessary.>> I would though be happy to amend the about page for clarity’s sake.>>>> Our objective since LU started was to promote policies which would de->> congest London. I’d argue that’s both the Mayor’s and TfL’s remit too,>> but seeing that both of those bodies are good at self promotion, we>> sometimes err towards the projects which don’t get mentioned elsewhere.>> That’s the beauty of being a blog in a big world wide web. We>> supplement that service with daily news links, and occasional>> editorials praising and criticising our elected (and unelected) leaders>> in their efforts to make that happen. We use a wide range of sources,>> and try to be fair and balanced within the ‘get London moving’ remit.>> Sometimes we probably do better than others at this, and sometimes we>> probably fail, but we do our best.>>>> I hope that (far lengther than I set it out to be) reply answers any>> questions or concerns that you had? I’m always happy to continue this>> dialogue or to see any suggestions which you might have – or even any>> London transport blogs which you might want to run!>>>> Otherwise, thanks for getting in touch.>>>> Simon








4 Comments

  1. Tom says

    Probably should make it clear that Bennett gave 500k to the Tories in 2005, not LondonUnlocked. The snippet is a bit too ambiguous there, but the link in the original article makes it clearer. Via theyworkforyou there are also the airfares for three Tory MPs to fly to China to 'discuss political and economic development' in 2004, plus a donation to Portillo's leadership campaign back in 2001.Going back to the election LondonUnlocked were highly partisan, too, despite the profession of independence. I'm slightly disgusted with myself for not spotting it before.

  2. Manic says

    "Probably should make it clear that Bennett gave 500k to the Tories in 2005, not LondonUnlocked."I came *this* close to putting in a little note explaining that, but I thought the amount would make it obvious. I've added an expanded link to the quote that you might like to mimic. Makes it pretty clear.

  3. Scaryduck says

    I wish my blog was bankrolled to the tune of £500k.

  4. Manic says

    You'll accept your stale bread and be happy.

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