Philip Davies is a Tory MP. Last week his select committee summoned Tory H&F councillor Mark Loveday to justify the council's publication, H&F News. Here is what happened.
Philip Davies: …we will start off with Hammersmith and Fulham. This is, let us face it, council propaganda masquerading as an independent newspaper. There is nothing here to the casual reader that would indicate that this had anything to do with a council publication. This is masquerading as an independent newspaper. If you are so proud of your publication, let us have it plastered all over it that this is a council publication so that everybody who reads it knows exactly where they stand when they read it. Why are you not upfront about what this is?
Councillor Loveday: I can bowl for Britain on the subject of propaganda, and Sefton Delmer and the radio stations that were set up in this country during the war, and the distinctions between black propaganda and other propaganda, and so on, but in terms of residents knowing that this is a council newspaper, my simple answer is that we do test this, and the latest survey showed that 80% of residents said it was clearly a council newspaper. People are aware of that. I suspect that 80% is a pretty good score by any means.
Philip Davies: I will give you a better score, which is 100%. I guarantee to you that, if you were to put on the front of your paper (and plaster it quite prominently) that this is the newspaper delivered to you by Hammersmith and Fulham Council, you would be able to improve on your 80%, you would probably be able to get to 100%. We would all know where we were and also you would not need to spend any money testing out whether or not people knew; you would be able to know straight away that people knew. I know you are obsessed with saving money at Hammersmith and Fulham Council. I have given you a perfect money saving idea, so can I now expect you to save money on testing it out and plaster over it that this is council propaganda so that your residents know exactly what it is they are reading?
Councillor Loveday: Can I ask you a question?
Philip Davies: No, I am asking you a question.
Councillor Loveday: Will you give us the £400,000 to put it through our paid-for local media, because that is not going to happen.
Philip Davies: I am asking you, on here, to make it abundantly clear to your residents that this is a council publication, right on the front page. You are saying how good it is. Why are you ashamed of it? Surely you should want to be proud of the fact that the local authority is putting out this kind of propaganda. Let everybody know why you are hiding your light under a bushel.
Councillor Loveday: The majority of copies, I think, certainly did have a strapline reference.
Philip Davies: I am just unlucky, am I?
Councillor Loveday: No, I have not followed the details of the straplines on the various editions. The front cover, of course, is a slip advert, or a wrap-around advert.
Philip Davies: Yes, inside is even worse.
Councillor Loveday: Inside this, obviously, the front page---
Philip Davies: Yes, I know exactly what you are doing: you are putting out propaganda and masquerading it as independent news.
Councillor Loveday: Propaganda is a loaded word.
Philip Davies: It is indeed.