PartyGate — the truly local national news story
Is it still OK to wish you a Happy New Year? It’s our first newsletter of the year, so hopefully it is ok — just.
Since the start of the year, we’ve been looking at how ongoing events in Westminster have been playing out in the local news. If ever there was proof that most national news stories play out locally too, then it’s this one.
For many journalists, it’s been a battle to get local MPs to give their view — if they Conservative MPs, of course. Perhaps the most eye-catching response, however, has come from the Bishop’s Stortford Independent, which pulled the column for a local MP when she failed to even mention PartyGate had taken place:
It’s a situation journalists across the UK will have been all too familiar with over the past couple of weeks — Conservative MPs trying to avoid passing comment on events at Downing Street.
For any MP still clinging to the hope this wasn’t a ‘cut through’ issue, there was little comfort to be found in the local press despite the Prime Minister’s apology. The day after, we rounded up 19 news stories which told of the anguish, pain and now anger people who had suffered in the most awful circumstances during lockdowns over the past two years.
Then there were the front pages. Was this to be the day Boris Johnson lost the country? Maybe — time will tell.
While this is a local story in so many ways — local councils and police forces were expected to enforce the rules of course, while every tragedy during Covid has been a local event — in Sheffield, it turned out to be even more relevant, when the local council chief executive had to apologise for being at a Whitehall party.
Sheffield editor reveals rumours and questions behind council boss’s ‘sorry’ over Westminster lockdown party
Star editor Nancy Fielder has since tweeted to say the story has now generated more reaction than any story in the city since the closure of a John Lewis store. Cut through indeed.
Then, of course, there are the regional journalists working in the Lobby at Westminster, trying to make sense of what remains a mind-boggling story with new developments every day.
Dan O’Donoghue, Westminster editor for title like the Manchester Evening News and Newcastle Journal, has written for us about what it’s like to have a ring-side seat during such a remarkable time.
Partygate is just the latest dramatic development to engulf Westminster — and ensure national politics forces its way to the top of the news agenda with ease. Dan O’Donoghue, Westminster editor for Reach’s Northern titles, as well as the Northern Agenda email and podcast, takes us inside Westminster through the eyes of a journalist trying to make sense of it all for readers far beyond SW1.
Meanwhile, another story which further proves that all news is local emerged in York — courtesy of … The Duke of York! The York Press has reported on calls for the Duke, who has lost his military titles in recent weeks, to be stripped of his connection to Yorkshire’s historic city too.
And finally, for good measure, the passing of rock star Meat Loaf offered an ideal opportunity for journalists across the country to delve into the archives to remember when the rocker visited their area — and he certainly travelled well in the UK. The memories of Phil Hewitt, of the Worthing Herald, are especially worth looking out for.