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Culture secretary celebrates ‘diverse press’ as she is asked about George Osborne’s new editor job

Karen Bradley says election voters must put 'strong and stable' leadership ahead of 'coalition of chaos'

05 May, 2017 — By Richard Osley

Karen Bradley hits the streets with election candidate Claire-Louise Leyland

CONSERVATIVE Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said this morning (Friday) that she wants a “diverse” press to thrive across London, but sidestepped a question over whether she thought her former parliamentary colleague George Osborne’s editorship of the Evening Standard was a healthy appointment.

Ms Bradley was helping door knock teams in Hampstead as part of the Tory mission to unseat Labour’s Tulip Siddiq at next month’s general election.

Asked by the New Journal about whether, as the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, she thought the country’s media landscape provided the setting for a fair election, she said: “I think we have a fantastic, diverse press, and I want to maintain that diverse free press which is able to report on issues. Clearly, we have issues regarding the internet and the fake news and it’s really great to see organisations like Facebook and Twitter taking this more seriously, but I want to see local newspapers like yours thrive so we can get that diversity of reporting.”

A recent parliamentary investigation confirmed that just four publishers are in control of more than three-quarters of the United Kingdom’s local press titles, while three companies control around 70 percent of the national news market in print. Ms Bradley said she could not comment on the ownership of papers, but added: “What I want to make sure we have is pluarality, and we have an open and diverse free press.”

The New Journal then asked about the recent editorial change at the capital’s city-wide paper, with the question: “Do you think it is healthy that the main paper in London has an editor who was formerly a member of your government?”

She replied: “Well, you know, there are great local papers here in Hampstead and Kilburn that report on many diverse and different viewpoints. People will make their own judgements, people make their own judgments based on the sources of news that they go to.”

Mr Osborne, the former chancellor who started work at the Evening Standard earlier this week, is stepping down as MP in Tatton. Ms Bradley went on to say it was up to individual newspapers to decide whether they would be endorsing a party at the election.

Candidate Claire-Louise Leyland in Heath Hurst Road with Culture Secretary Karen Bradley

She is the latest cabinet member to help the local campaign as the Tories target Ms Siddiq’s majority of 1,138. Ms Bradley met candidate Claire-Louise Leyland in the Tory campaign centre in Heath Hurst Road, where activists were preparing to unleash another round of election mailouts.

She was a Remain voter in last year’s general election, just as the last two high-profile Tory visitors to the Hampstead and Kilburn frontline – Ed Vaizey and chief whip Gavin Williamson – were. She said Brexit opponents needed to stop thinking how they could prevent Brexit, accept a democratic decision, and hand Prime Minister Theresa May their backing ahead of negotiations with EU leaders.

In answers to New Journal questions, she used the election slogan “strong and stable” three times in relation to Mrs May, and “coalition of chaos” once in relation to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Ms Bradley said: “The Prime Minister has called this election because this is the right time and the right thing to do for the country in order to get the best negotiating position we possibly can with the European Union and also to deliver on her vision of a country that works for everyone. In this seat, in Claire-Louise, we have a local candidate who has lived and breathed Hampstead and Kilburn for 13 years, working for the community and she is Theresa May’s candidate. She is determined to help Theresa deliver that strong and stable government that we all want to see in the national interest.”

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