Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Press barons: the Roy Jenkins experience 

According to an amendment last week to the Ministerial code of Conduct, relations with senior media powers will be transparent in future:

The Government will be open about its links with the media. All meetings with newspaper and other media proprietors, editors and senior executives will be published quarterly regardless of the purpose of the meeting.

It was another world of press relations with Government when then-Chancellor Roy Jenkins faced the turmoil of the 1968 currency crisis..

As he said;

I went back to Number 11 to receive William Rees-Mogg, then editor of The Times, who had suggested the visit with a view to a helpful leader for the following morning. As we faced a hazardous opening of the London foreign exchange market at 10 am this could be of importance and value … I thought that Rees-Moggs visit should be kept secret (and) made elaborate arrangements for him to be let in through the garden gate …

This turned into farce. He arrived at the front door, passed through the waiting throng of journalists and television crews like Moses separating the waters of the Red Sea and was ushered into my downstairs waiting room which was full of Treasury and Bank of England officials. One of those poked his head round the door of my study and said ‘A gentleman who looks remarkably like Mr Rees-Mogg has just arrived’. William assured me that our attempt at secrecy was as unnecessary as it was unsuccessful. The press he said always preserved its own confidentiality. He was certainly right to the extent that not a word about his visit appeared in any newspaper.

(Roy Jenkins ‘a Life At The Centre’ p243)

For a list of all Nick Clegg’s meetings with senior media figures since taking office up to 15 July 2011 see the Deputy Prime Minister’s page on this subject.

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