Clarke condemns media focus on personalities

Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke has condemned "pernicious" media fascination with "personality" and "novelty".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's On the Ropes, Clarke said: "What we live is in a 24/7 media agenda, which is absolutely fascinated I think, dreadfully, by two things novelty and personality. Every politician going up, as I have often had to do, has to find something new in order to catch the news agenda. And if there is not something new then the media simply won't cover anything at all, and if it is about personality even more so, I think this is a pernicious development in the modern media."

Speaking about perceived government spin, Clarke said: "Now, do I think that these responses are right? Not really, I think it is important to try and hold to a set of approaches policies and values which pay no account to that 24/7 media focus on novelty and personality. But it is very difficult."

John Humphrys interrupted to put the question to Clarke: "Let's put it very bluntly, if the Daily Mail said jump or the Sun said 'jump', you jump."

Clarke said: "Completely not in my case. I tried as Home Secretary not to do that. I called myself tough but not populist with the approach that I wanted to follow, because I think the Home Secretary has to be an individual who really stands firm for the values of our criminal justice system, right across the whole range, and doesn't respond to those kind of things.

"Other people deal with it in different ways, and it is a matter for them. I am not going to comment on the way other people have dealt with it, but (I) tried not to respond to tabloid agenda in that way."

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