Yes, I think that -- I've thought about this a great deal and researched this issue a great deal, and it's clear that there was a very significant cultural change towards the end of the 20th century in the relationship between politicians and journalists. I think if you go back 50 years you will -- I was told by one old-timer that when Harold Wilson went into a press conference, which would normally in those days be held when he was -- the first time that Harold Wilson went into a press conference, sorry, which was in 12 Downing Street, the press stood up. It was then the -- that is what they did. There was a sort of deference. Nobody probably wants that deference and Harold Wilson removed it, he started to call people by their Christian names, journalists, I mean, and encouraged an easy familiarity, and I think the deference was steadily replaced by familiarity.
There was something to be said for that deference, because it brought with it a distance.
By the time I arrived on the scene in the early 1990s as a professional, as a political reporter, I was staggered by the status I had. You know, the Cabinet Ministers would accept my invitations to lunch, and if you went to party conferences, there were these -- it was not really -- it was ceasing to be a conversation to some extent between political activists and the party leaders and the politicians, but between the media and the politicians -- I mean, the News International annual party at the Tory and Labour conference was an extraordinary power event to which people were excluded and you got it -- I think I'm right in saying -- I unfortunately never got in, but you got the entire Cabinet and you got the sort of -- all the influence brokers and the senior members of the political class -- sorry, the media class, and it was a very important statement, I felt, about how Britain was being governed.
And then you got the astonishing business of the senior News International people sitting just behind the Cabinet in the auditorium. You know, they were placed in the sort of important place for VIPs in the party conference chambers, and I believe other senior -- you know, really important media types were put there too, and the importance attached -- you know, they brought into the inner group, inner sanctum, and I felt that was -- this was a perversion, I think, of our democracy because our democracy was starting to become a private conversation between elite groups rather than a popular engagement, a proper popular engagement.