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Sunday Times Magazine Interview

October 25th, 2012 by


A journalist is writing a profile of 38 Degrees for the Sunday Times magazine. He wants to know who is really behind our influential, people-powered campaigns.

It just wouldn’t make sense for a journalist to try to write about 38 Degrees after only speaking to a couple of staff in the office. 38 Degrees is people powered. 38 Degrees members choose and run the campaigns, and donate the funds to make everything happen.

So, he’s agreed to “interview” 38 Degrees members, by preparing a survey for thousands of us to fill in. Nearly 20,000 of us have taken part so far.

A number of members have also been in touch with questions about this survey. I’ll use this blog post to try to answer them. If you’ve got further questions or comments please leave them in the comments thread below.

Why are you asking all of us to do this survey rather than just doing a traditional interview?

Working with the media can be a bit of a challenge for 38 Degrees. The media tends to focus on individual spokespeople and celebrities, whereas 38 Degrees is all about hundreds of thousands of us working together.

Being reported in newspapers, on television and on radio can be a powerful way of boosting our impact and spreading the word. But it’s important we do so in a way which is true to the spirit 38 Degrees.

We have been experimenting with ways of speaking to the media which feel more in the spirit of 38 Degrees. One example would be that before I do an interview on radio or television, I post up on Facebook and ask members to suggest what they’d like me to say and try to use their comments. Another example would be that we have been developing new online tools to make it easier for members to contact their local newspapers and radio stations directly.

This survey is another such experiment. It came about because I told the journalist that if he wanted to truly profile 38 Degrees he needed to speak to members, because that is what the organisation is all about. He readily agreed to this approach.

Alongside the survey Hannah and I travelled down to Canterbury to meet with the journalist on his home turf. We answered some of his questions ourselves but also to take him along to an NHS get-together which had been organised by local 38 Degrees members.

Why are you working with a Rupert Murdoch paper?

38 Degrees members have long campaigned for Rupert Murdoch’s power to be reined in. We played a significant role in helping stop his bid to take 100% control of BSkyB. We have also spoken up more broadly for the power of media barons to be checked, with stricter limits on how much of the media any one person can own.

Campaigning for better media in the UK, and recognising the big problems with the way the media works at present, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still try to get our message across. That’s why we also sometimes raise money to place adverts in newspapers including those owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Hundreds of thousands of people read the Sunday Times. Some will already be 38 Degrees members. Many more of them will be potential 38 Degrees members who may hear about things like our campaign to save the NHS for the first time through this article. Reaching more people will make future campaigns even more effective.

Given our continued campaign against Rupert Murdoch’s power, there is obviously risk that the piece could be hostile or biased against us. But refusing to be interviewed wouldn’t reduce that risk, it would just reduce our opportunity to put our side of the argument.

Thousands of us responding to the journalist’s questions boosts our chances of getting a fair hearing. It also puts us in a stronger position to respond together if we do get unfairly treated.

More generally, 38 Degrees campaigns for greater transparency. As an organisation we try to practice what we preach, for example by publishing our accounts in full on our website. In the same way, if people ask questions about 38 Degrees we try to answer them – whether they are a member of the public for a journalist working for a national newspaper. It wouldn’t feel very in the spirit 38 Degrees to refuse to answer a journalist’s questions.

These questions are leading, why didn’t you insist on more neutral questioning?

Ultimately, when you’re being interviewed by a journalist, it’s up to them what questions they ask! These questions were prepared by the journalist, 38 Degrees staff involvement was limited to editing them into a 38 Degrees format and putting them up on the website.

All the questions are optional – you are free to pick and choose which questions the answer. And there are several “open box” questions where you can put in whatever information and thoughts you have.

Who is the journalist?

The journalist is called Rod Liddle. You can read more about him here.

What do you think? Please share comments and questions below.

UPDATE 5/11/2012:

Thanks for all the additional queries about this. Here are a few more answers:

How is 38 Degrees members’ data and privacy being protected?

Firstly, as it states in our privacy policy 38 Degrees will never share or sell on personal data. The whole office team is committed to treating you details with the utmost respect. We also make sure we use the latest technology and take the best advice to maintain security across our web site.

Any answers submitted to the Sunday Times interview will be held securely by 38 Degrees, and analysed by members of the office team. Only a summary of our answers will be sent to the journalist, Rod Liddle. We will not be sending any of the raw data to the newspaper or the journalist.

The only case where a members’ name might be shared with Rod Liddle will be if they have made a comment which seems representative of a broader sentiment, and where they have ticked to indicate that they are willing to be quoted. We will get back in touch with anyone in this category to double check they’re happy for their name to be passed on before doing so.

Will the survey answers be put to some other use e.g. a commercial use?

This data will not be used for any commercial purposes. 38 Degrees is not-for-profit, and always will be. We will never sell data to other people.

The only other way this data will be used is to give all of us more of an insight into what other 38 Degrees members are like – e.g. it will be interesting to see what a broad spread of people belong to 38 Degrees.

We’ll put the same summary data we share with the Sunday Times up on our own web site – which makes it very unlikely that they would be able to sell it or otherwise profit from it.

Why didn’t you poll members before agreeing to this interview?

That’s an interesting suggestion, and one which I will make sure we consider in the future.

Nobody wants to receive too many emails, so the office team does have to make judgements about when to send out a poll. On this occasion, given that we regularly field enquiries from journalists (Including rather hostile Sky News presenters – see here for example) and this issue has never arisen before, we didn’t feel like it was necessary. It felt like the priority was to ensure that 38 Degrees members were given an authentic voice in the interview.

I’m not certain that this was the right decision – and we’ll think about how we could do it differently next time.  However, overall over 100,000 people have taken part which suggests a lot of 38 Degrees members do think this was a good idea.

I will make sure we consider ways of asking more members for their perspective on how the office team talks to journalists in our next regular member poll.

By agreeing to be interviewed by Rod Liddle, aren’t you endorsing his views?

No, we are just answering his questions – which he is putting to us as a journalist for the Sunday Times Magazine. Every week the office team fields queries from lots of journalists, from all kinds of publications and broadcasters.

If we’d refused to answer his questions, he is likely to still have written an article. We’d just have lost the chance to put across our point of view. And there may be been an additional risk of being accused of being hypocrites for campaigning for transparency and openness but refusing to answer questions.

By agreeing to be interviewed by the Sunday Times, aren’t you lending support to Rupert Murdoch?

No. Definitely not. 38 Degrees members have consistently voted to challenge the power of Rupert Murdoch and to speak up for politicians paying more attention to us voters and less attention to mega-rich media barons. That’s what we will continue to do.

Isn’t it inevitable that this will be a negative piece?

It’s not inevitable, and it’s probably less likely than if we’d refused to take part. But it is definitely a risk.

On the other hand, in the past even quite hostile pieces of coverage (e.g. Kay Burley’s infamous interview with me) have helped raise awareness of 38 Degrees and helped get more people involved.

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  • Pipeman9

    I think you are treading a very dangerous and short-sighted path in
    co-operating with a Murdoch journal survey.

    I appreciate you see it as an opportunity to raise the 38 Degrees profile.
    Nevertheless, you should remember that the Murdoch press, at present, is not a
    great fan of the Govt which initiated the Levison Enquiry. In the short term, we
    will get a nice sympathetic hearing. However, that will last as long as we are
    not campaigning against something the Murdoch press supports. Once we do
    that, the Murdoch press will delve into the survey, pick the statistics which
    suit them (e.g who would vote for whom, or whether we feel unions have too much
    power, or whatever) and start the demonization process. Murdoch changes his
    allegiances to suit his interests as the rest of us change underwear: getting
    into bed with Murdoch is like taking on a lover who one day pees on you instead. Please be careful.

  • Abbey Wood

    Rod Liddle? Seriously? I hope you also share the data with a proper journalist, or indeed 38 degrees members so that you get some proper analysis rather than simply Rod Liddle’s pre-conceived opinion backed up with some cherry-picked statistics.

  • Anonymous

    Hmm, yes.
    The questionaire asked how you would vote. I’ve got a feeling that quite a few of us here are liberal thinkers, (in the literal sense, not the party), and the journalist will paint us as left wingers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Clare-Jordan/100001852356157 Clare Jordan

    if i would have known it was rod liddle i wouldnt have agreed to filling the survey in. i strongly dislike his beliefs about the disabled for example.

  • Trish Harrison

    Rod Liddle! well if I had known it was him I wouldn’t have bothered He is a rebarbative man.with repellant views.

  • Lucy N.

    Rod Liddle? When was the last time this maverick “commentator” undertook any serious journalism?? 38 degree-ers, please note, people like him, Peter Hitchens and David Aaronovitch should be approached with great caution – their agenda is always, always contrarion and can be spiteful. Having said this most of the British “press” has a centrist/right wing/fearful view of pressure groups as irresponsibly woolly lefties instead of responsibly, pin-point sharp democrats (and lefties). May be we should not pass up the opportunity to add to our charm.

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree with you. Taking part in this survey is “…treading a very dangerous and short-sighted path.” As one of the many 38 Degrees members who campaigned against Murdoch I cannot bring myself to give anything to the Murdoch press which will not only make them money, but will also give them words to twist in the future. I have recently started questioning the ethics of the 38 Degrees team.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leigh.russell.351 Leigh Russell

    This data survey is suspicious, it looks more like marketing data to be sold on

  • john gm

    The events of the past year or so have shown that Mr
    Murdoch and News International cannot be trusted. Before you agreed to this
    survey of 38 Degrees members, you should have asked us our opinion of this
    approach from the Sunday Times. You rely on your membership for guidance in most
    things why did you not consult us on this very important issue of who we are and
    what motivates us? Shame on you.

  • pick_a_name

    These data will inevitably be a) sold, b) used as a bargaining chip by News International in its relations with the government and c) used to discredit 38degrees or reduce its impact on the national stage.

    Perhaps you could write another blog post to address these concerns?

  • stanley

    Oh my days!, this is – at best – hopelessly naive. Rod Liddle?, The Sunday Times? you couldn’t make it up. To donate time, money and our signatures to 38 degrees we need to take you seriously. I actually laughed when I read this post. This is an epic clanger, I guarantee you will live to regret this association, this blog post and the sentiment / strategy behind behind both. Back pedal – we all make mistakes, your followers are a forgiving bunch – but this hopelessly naive we are not.

  • Bill

    Glad I didn’t get involved the man is a despicable individual. We could do without his help or otherwise. Only one person he is concerned about is himself.

  • Anonymous

    Yes indeed! Murdoch cannot be trusted and neither can 38 Degrees surveys! I am seriously beginning to doubt whether 38 Degrees is 100% “People Powered” and I doubt that “38 Degrees will enable people to act together” unless we constantly question ‘the team’. I started becoming skeptical about 38 Degrees when I read David’s statement about the LIB DEM AWAY DAY. David wrote: “I wanted to make sure I was genuinely speaking on behalf of 38 Degrees members. So I emailed every 38 Degrees member with a LibDem MP and asked them to take a survey and share their thoughts.” David posted the ‘results’ of that (fake) survey in that blog, but those results were false. I live in Nick Clegg’s constituency and haven’t met one 38 Degrees member who was consulted about that survey (and I know an awful lot of people). They responded to my enquiry about why I wasn’t emailed and asked to take part in that survey with the statement: “I’m really sorry that you didn’t receive the email about the LibDem away day. I’ve asked the tech team to have a look at it and you are definitely registered as living in Nick Clegg’s constituency.” Perhaps they forgot that I organised the first NHS petition to Nick Clegg and perhaps they forgot my blog on this subject which you can read again at: http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2011/05/11/local-38-degrees-members-to-meet-nick-clegg-in-48-hours/ I clearly state in this blog “My name is Geraldine and, like you, I’m part of 38 Degrees. I live in Sheffield. This Friday, I am going to deliver a copy of the Save Our NHS petition to my local MP – Nick Clegg.”

  • Antony de Peyer


    You answer hardly any of the points I made( which several other of your commentators mention also). Surely, no one NEEDS to interview 38 degrees members? They are WHAT THEY VOTE FOR. I argued(as you’can read in my previous email)) that to try to analyse and identify its supporters is unwise. Let us stay undefined-except by our choice of campaigns.It’s best not to “pigeon hole” us.We then can’t be dismissed as any( predominantly) particular group/age/ gender/’political party etc. If we are found to be a recognisable part( or parts) of society,WE CAN BE DISMISSED AS SUCH. I repeat, I think you’re making a serious mistake in this. Please pull the whole thing before you sacrifice a great strength of 38 degrees-our very” non-identity”-for no good reason that I can see.We owe LIddle nothing. If you feel somehow you’ve committed yourself personally in some way, just say, by way of excuse for cancelling the survey that 38 degrees members won’t have it!
    One member of my household has already unsubscribed. I’ve not decided as yet.
    I do wish 38 degrees well, and I’ve admired what you have been doing, and have contributed money. And it-and Avaaz-provide a wonderful way of exercising a democratic voice on issues that matter. But this “interview” is unnecessary, unwise, a serious mistake.

    Please think again.

  • Dougster

    Rod Liddle!!!! it really brings your judgement into question.
    I can’t believe that this individual will treat any survey seriously, he will interpret the answers to make us a laughing stock. You only have to read some of his stuff to see that this is possibly the worst mistake you could make.

  • Anonymous

    The reason the govt. took no notice of 38degrees NHS petition is because we were seen as a bunch of leftwingers, Labour Party stooges.
    I have just looked at the Sunday Times website, and it looks as though we will not be able to read the article unless we subscribe or buy the paper.
    Sorry, but no chance of me doing that, even if it becomes the only Sunday paper in existence. Same with lots of others on this site by the sound of it.

  • greydoll

    Sorry but I also am dismayed to have done the questionnaire and find that the journalist is Rod Liddle. Doubtless he will use the material supplied any way that suits.

  • Jay Willis

    Indeed, his views on race and women are often repulsive, whereas I agree with his opinions on freedom of speech. Regardless of our assumptions about his character, I don’t know what benefit we would get from our silence, or from not engaging with him, he can write whatever he likes. We should not be fearful about engaging with people with which we strongly disagree, on the contrary we should focus there. We should also not assume that everybody who works for Murdoch likes or agrees with Murdoch – those that don’t may be our greatest allies in changing opinions in groups we don’t usually reach. If Rod Liddle writes lies or distortions perhaps we could petition an independent newspaper to write the truth and get double the coverage. I enjoyed the survey, I could have suggested a few more questions and I’d like the results to be made public (anonymous numbers as promised). I wonder how many of us read the Sunday Times? That might have been a good question.

  • B Ellis

    Oh dear, Rod Liddle, I stupidly sent my form off. I thought like most of these so called surveys, they are written in such a way as to skew the outcome. But hell, I have nothing to be afraid of except being ridiculed by him. No one takes him seriously, surely? He is a right wing bigot, a silly man.

  • Hanna

    I am no fan of Rod Liddle, but I don’t think we should be afraid of publicity. Surely, the better known 38degrees is the greater its people power. Not all 38degress supporters are left-wingers. I’m apolitical and just follow the campaigns that speak to my heart and conscience. I think the left-right divide is old politics anyway and counter-productive. I like 38degrees because it offers a new way. Power needs to be dispersed so as to prevent unethical, ego-centric people having undue influence and control over the majority. Such people can be found in both Labour and the Tories as they are attracted to any posiiton where they can dominate others. It’s true at the moment there are some hideous people in power (Osbourne comes to mind). The ‘democratic’ system that we have at the moment means that once in power a party can push for measures that the majority do not want, even those who voted for them. Remember Blair and the Iraq war. The problem is that the kind of people attracted to power whether in politics or senior management are not always the nicest of people. That’s why we need to make sure the majority have a voice and some clout.

  • yossarian

    Surely a straightforward method for ensuring that 38 degrees staff represent the views of members would be for an *elected* (rather than self-selected) board to which they are accountable?

  • sal

    Knowing now that the journalist is Rod Liddle, the whole “forced choice” question set makes sense – a set designed to make it easy to label people with left/right labels and put them in neat boxes, rather than allowing for any nuanced opinions. Don’t expect this to turn out well, 38 degress – Liddle writes to provoke, not to be a sensible journalist.

  • R M Churcher

    Thank you for the invitation to represent the 38 Degrees membership in the press, but I am afraid that I won’t be taking part in this interview. No one has the right to make judgements about me based on the schools my parents chose, my relationship status or where I buy my groceries. In the right hands, these could provide an interesting set of background statistics, but in the wrong hands they will be used to ridicule and discredit an organisation that does important work, and campaigns on important issues.

    The fact that the journalist is the highly controversial Rod Liddle, coupled with the tone of the questions, leads me to believe that this will not be a balanced review of 38 Degrees, its members and its work. The questions touch on the most inflammatory of subjects with no scope for nuanced answers. The multiple choice format, coupled with some very provocative statements, makes it easy for the journalist to make sweeping judgements about the views of your membership without entering into any form of dialogue. My answers to many of the questions would have to be thousands of words long in order to convey my views – the option of ‘Neither agree nor disagree’ does not allow a proper exploration of the issues.

    I would be happy to contribute to a more balanced and nuanced profile of 38 Degrees and its members. I am not happy to contribute to this survey.

  • David Lovelace

    Rod Liddle = hatchet job. That’s what he’s paid for. Don’t be so naive!

  • Tim Morton

    I’m afraid that was my reaction too. I filled in the survey earlier in the week, he is an appalling man in need of clinical help

  • nano

    While I’m generally in agreement with what you are doing in terms of organising the activities and lobbying of 38 Degrees and I applauded your decision to share an interview of 38 Degrees with members of the organisation I’m sorry to disappoint but I’m more than unhappy about being asked to fill in anything for Murdoch and Co.
    You said in your letter:

    “it’s always a bit risky giving interviews to journalists – particularly in a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch”

    I agree! So why do it?

    I wasn’t keen initially and now that I’ve seen the questionnaire I’m even less keen. I’m very surprised and somewhat alarmed that you are condoning it and requesting people to complete it .

    I want to assume that you looked at the survey.
    Here’s a small selection of questions – ask yourselves what exactly it is that they want to know about the membership?

    – annual income?
    - which schools?
    - member of a political party
    - who would you vote for?
    and that’s only a selection!

    Can I suggest that you ask 38 Degree members if we want to be “interviewed” by Murdoch – it’s not too late.

  • http://www.facebook.com/x.Alan.Thomas.x Alan Thomas

    As others have expressed here – Had I known the journalist was Rod Liddle I would not have participated. Explains some of the bias exhibited in the survey questions now.

    I appreciate the arguments wrt using part of the Murdoch press – but I think engaging with Rod Liddle was a mistake.

  • Florence

    Are you serious? Great. Had I known this I would not have filled that in. I also have a feeling that I let them use my name. AWESOME. Thank you for letting us be misrepresented. Serves me right for not questioning.

  • pipeman9

    I have today received a form e-mail from 38 degrees advising me that I still haven’t agreed to be “interviewed.” When this was first mooted, I sent 38 degrees an e-mail to say why I thought this was a really bad idea. I received a reply referring me to the Blog, and David Babbs’ writings thereon, where he attempted to justify his – in my opinion – extreme naivete in this. My wife also received the “reminder” e-mail and presumably so have other members. It would be nice to think that the 38 Degrees organisers occasionally read the e-mails they receive and their own blog – they might have noticed some antipathy towards this particular “campaign.”
    I have e-mailed the organisers again. For those of us who do feel strongly opposed to the “interview,” I have cut and pasted part of what I e-mailed to the organisers, as follows (please feel free to use it if you happen to agree):
    “Please let me state this categorically, as you appear not to have read the attached e-mail, or your own Blog: I DO NOT AGREE TO BE
    Perhaps this will save the organisers the trouble of e-mailing me again – as long as they read their e-mails, or their own blog.
    PLEASE, Organisers, think this through again. Murdoch is treacherous, and Rod Liddell has delusions of relevance, to which he’ll go to considerable lengths to try to prove.

  • Florence

    How much are they paying you for this ‘interview’? Now that’s the real question here.

  • Anonymous

    The same question occurred to me so I emailed David via @theteam and asked him what sort of back hander he would be getting from Murdoch.

  • John Steel

    Dear Robin,Thank you for extending The Sunday Times invitation
    to be ‘interviewed’. I will not be responding as (to use the common
    aphorism ) they are part of the problem, not part of
    the solution and I fail to see how providing them with my (and the rest
    of the ‘interviewees’) socio-economic, demographic and personal details
    will benefit me, us or you. Best wishes and please don’t sell out so
    cheaply, John Steel.

  • harry

    I entered into the interview but, I must admit that comments I’ve read here do make me possibly regret that decision. Murdoch’s press IS part of the problem (along with bankers, corrupt MP’s, greedy energy suppliers et al) I am not left wing in outlook. Personally I think that ANY party should not serve more than two terms max because corruption and complacency seeps in. If approached, I will decide then whether to co-operate

  • Hackedoffivist

    To save going over the same ground let me just say that if I’d read the blog first I’d have made even more scathing comments about my experience of journalists who ‘want to help you share your views’ over the years that I’ve been involved in many campaigns.

    I will now treat any communication with 38 Degrees with extreme caution as I feel I’ve been duped.You could easily have been transparent and said Rod Little was conducting the ‘interview’ in the original email instead of hiding it away in a blog that not everyone would have read.

  • Hackedoffivist

    Thanks for the link to the Wikipedia entry for Rod Liddle which I found of great interest.If having read the following you seriously think his writing skills could be of assistance to 38 Degrees public visibility then I wonder how naive you can be.

    “In January 2010, the Mail on Sunday and The Observer drew attention to allegedly racist and misogynist comments posted under the username “monkeymfc”—a name Liddle has used—on Millwall Online, a fan club web forum with no official connection to the Millwall Football Club. Liddle at first attributed some of the comments to opposition fans logging in under his name to embarrass him. He later admitted he had written some of the posts that were being criticized, including one in support of the BNP excluding Black and Asian people from the party.[23] Another post, in which he joked about not being able to smoke at Auschwitz, led to his being forced to explain what he meant in The Jewish Chronicle.[24]”

    Or has the 38 degrees website been hacked into and this is one very nasty phishing expedition?

  • Josquine

    Please add my name to those who would not have completed the survey had they known the ‘interviewer’ was Rod Liddle.

  • Mitch

    This is what I wrote back to 38 degrees this afternoon afte being reminded that I had not completed the survey for the Sunday Times.

    “I am surprised that an organisation like 38 degrees has approved
    a questionnaire that uses the typical consumer marketing questions of what is
    your occupation and annual income.

    These are classic questions used to establish who are the
    worthwhile targets for future consumer marketing campaigns.

    This leads me to believe that this information may not only be
    required for a “Journalist”.

    As you can gather I won’t be completing it as I believe it is
    gaining unnecessary information for the article the journalist is supposed to
    be writing.”

  • Anonymous







    This week could be the week when people power stops Rupert Murdoch.









  • Jerzy

    Absolutely terrible idea. I’ve already sent an email to the 38 degrees team discussing this very dangerous survey. The information will no doubt be used against us and/or sold on and used to orchestrate discrediting activities by the likes of the people we seek to stop in their activities.

    I really thought the 38 degrees team were not this naive.

  • Sharmala

    100% agree with John GM. I am appauled we weren’t told.

  • Bobchewie

    Rod liddle? Are you kidding us? That prick who was slagging off disabled people. Sky news refers to 38 degrees as the hard left.

  • Anonymous

    “Ultimately, when you’re being interviewed by a journalist, it’s up to them what questions they ask!” AND ULTIMATELY, IT IS UP TO YOU WHAT QUESTIONS YOU ANSWER!

  • Anonymous

    I thought that 38 Degrees was “people powered”, but it seems to be a dictatorship! 38 Degrees members were not asked if they agreed with this decision to supply information to a Murdoch journalist and objectors are being ignored.

  • Anonymous

    “WHO RUNS 38 DEGREES? 38 Degrees has a small staff team and our office is run by staff and volunteers with the help of our board. But it’s 38 Degrees members who set the agenda.”

  • Zena

    My response to email from 38 Degrees, reminding me I had not completed the survey!:

    I will not be participating in this exercise, nor in anything else that involves Rod Liddle. That man’s views on issues such as race, disability etc are an insult to humanity.

    We can only speculate as to his motives for doing this, but I am sure they will be in no way altruistic.

    I am unconvinced by your rationale for this, & I am astonished that 38 Degrees has set this up with no prior reference to the membership. Sad to say, this will doubtless result in a spectacular own goal for 38 Degrees.

    You should not have been so naive.

  • joyce brand

    Rod Liddle and the Sunday Times make good bed fellows and hence I would have chosen a different newspaper and a different journalist; however, I dont’ think there was a queue lining up to offer publicity for the organisation. For certain there is an opportunity for him to caricature the membership of 38 degrees but I am not embarrassed to be identified as an individual in a group which would seem to be left-leaning in its politics, I am not embarrassed should the ‘survey’ show that a predominance of women subscribe to 38 degrees and I am certain not to be embarrassed by whatever slant Rod Liddle takes; any reader with any sort of handle on modern journalism will take into account what it is known about his writing, patently subscribers to 38 degrees are only too aware of its content. I would have wanted a little more sophistication in the response from the 38 degrees team but I feel no need to heap opprobium on them. If anything worries me it is the possibility of the material being sold on for marketing purposes.

  • Geraldine O’Connor

    On 13/07/2011 I received an email from David and the 38 Degrees team which stated:
    “People power has finally pushed politicians to stop bowing and scraping to media barons. But Murdoch is a crafty and determined operator…Communities like 38 Degrees have a positive role to play at moments like this. We are independent of media barons and compromised politicians. We don’t take their money – we’re funded by small donations from thousands of UK citizens. We don’t do what they tell us to do – we take
    decisions about our campaigns by 38 Degrees members discussing and voting together.”

  • Geraldine O’Connor

    I received an email from David and the team on 08/12/2011 which stated:
    “Democratic values are at the core of what we do – and this means everything is accountable to all 950,000 of you.”

  • Allan Feltham

    I have filled in the questionnaire but I can’t help fell that quite a few of the questions are loaded and the answers can easily taken out of context. I would have liked a lot more questions covering these and other subjects in more detail.

    In the past I have had the opportunity of being interviewed by other journalists and if they are from the tabloid press they always distort the comments for their own purposes and brief, if you don’t want this to happen you should not talk to them or take part in such questionnaires.

  • voyager

    I regret completing the questionnaire . Given that you have no idea how Ron Liddle will use this information, you cannot be sure of whether the publicity it generates will have a slant that is positive or negative. Timely to be reminded that not all publicity is beneficial. Moreover, a lack of rigour on this may reflect on people’s willingness to vote on other causes that are email generated for a trust issue is at stake.

  • Geraldine O’Connor

    By presenting disabled people as scroungers Liddle has done a lasting damage.

  • http://twitter.com/smudge1 smudge1 (pleb)

    Calm down, everyone. If Liddle does a hatchet job, there’s 100,000 of us who can rip the f**ker’s reputation to shreds – not that he needs any help in that direction. And it will underline once and for all that neither Murdoch nor the monsters he has created can be trusted. Did I mention Kay Burley?

  • pipeman9

    Oh dear, David. You just don’t get it, do you. Please think how this may have come about. Do you think Rod Liddle went to the Sunday Times and said, “Hey, I have this cool idea….” Or might it be that the Sunday Times approached Liddle. If the latter, why, with all of their regular journos and News International resources, pick on the journalistic equivalent of Joseph Goebbels (who, as Nazi propaganda minister, also had certain views on the disabled and Auschwitz), to do this “interview”? And if it was Liddle who approached Murdoch – well, why did he pick Murdoch? When we campaign about the withdrawal of benefits for the disabled, do make sure you get Frankie Boyle to write a nice piece about it!!

  • jane

    I want 38degrees to grow and be read about by people who don’t share my views. That means risking a ‘getting into bed with the enemy’ at times. We’re taking on the whole establishment, so we’re going to have to ‘use’ parts of it for our own gain. A fair interview piece will be favourable. A bad and biased interview could be flagged up to be just so. I think it’s win-win. We can’t be scared of the mainstream press and what they might say about us if we want to take them on. Communication is key at all times in all things, I believe.

  • katharine kavanagh

    Any organisation has to learn in order to develop. I would say that 38Degrees have probably now learnt that if another similar situation arises, members would appreciate more information than they were given so that they can make their choice in whether or not to participate.
    That said, I am convinced that this was all carried out with the best of intentions and as has been mentioned, many enquiries from journalists have been dealt with in the past without consultation, so this is only now becoming an issue where a change in approach needs to be considered. I can picture myself in the office of 38Degrees, and putting journalistic enquiries in the same boat as other administration tasks such as advertising, editting and correspondence.
    The point is, it has only now become clear that members would prefer a different approach, and I hope that this revelation is acted upon in the future.
    I personally subscribe to the ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ school, and would have taken part in the survey even knowing who the journalist was. If I have opinions that I think are important, I am not afraid to share them, regardless of the reception they may receive.
    Worrying about Ron Liddle’s response to the data we supply him is just symptomatic of today’s fear culture, is it not? People power is about standing up against individuals who seem to have an inordinate amount of sway in their opinions, and if we had ignored his request we would not have been standing up, but running away.

  • ian roy millington

    i organised an Event [Newark&Sherwood] and the Attendees were Appalled by this Journalists involvement.
    i was ignorant about him!
    now i have found out something more about him, it is at least [some would say] a dis-ingenuous affiliation that 38 has undertaken?
    the attendees thought it was to do with my own selection also!!

  • Geraldine O’Connor

    The journalist’s name is ROD Liddle, not “Ron” Liddle. I am not afraid of his response. There are a number of reasons why I object to giving him “data” for an article about 38 Degrees. 1) we spent time and money campaigning against Murdoch. News stories = money. Giving the Murdoch press a story a story = giving the Murdoch press money which perpetuates that which we campaigned against. 2) Rod Liddle almost causing the Stephen Lawrence trial to collapse. Giving Rod Liddle a story helps his career and insults Doreen Lawrence who has gone through more pain than any mother should endure and become a great human rights campaigner for Liberty. 3) Rod Liddle
    attacked disabled people as scroungers and in doing so did lasting damage. He wrote: “My
    new year’s resolution for 2012 was to become disabled. Nothing too serious,
    maybe just a bit of a bad back or one of those newly invented illnesses.” He
    was paid by the Murdoch press to publicly declare his desire to be disabled for
    a month. 38 Degrees campaigned against disability cuts and the Atos tests. I had to go for one of those tests! I’m not afraid of what Rod Liddle might write. His ignorance makes me want to vomit!

  • Anonymous

    My MP and other Tory MPs say that 38 Degrees is run by people from the Labour party, in other words it is a secret mouthpiece for the Labour party.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve come across you before and know that you are a trouble maker (Troll). 38 Degrees is a non-party political campaign group.

  • Anonymous

    I am simply telling you what the Tory party are saying in trying to smear 38 Degrees. Are you not aware of their statements? Is that being a trouble maker in your eyes? You have already posted here: ” I am seriously beginning to doubt whether 38 Degrees is 100% “People Powered”.

    I am disturbed that a 38 degrees activist would make such comments to another. I would expect to see that type of comment coming from a Tory or Labour activist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=286102631 Robert Smith

    Has anything happened about this yet? I’d be keen to see the article when/if it comes out – it will be very interesting to see how other people answered them. I am a fan of Rod Liddle, he is a straight-talking and outspoken journalist, so the article should be a fun read!