Guardian of social justice or attention-seeker?
Posted on 3 June 2009 | 10:06am
Up early and off to Hull for a mental health conference.
Having caught the end of Newsnight, I was thinking it would be good for my own
mental health if I avoided the papers, but it is impossible to escape the
bombardment of the media age when travelling.
Airports are the worst. 24 hour news blaring
away to audiences which average around zero, and you cannot board a plane these
days without someone trying to forcefeed you with a copy of the Daily Mail. I
would rather have measles (which the Mail helped give via their grotesque MMR
campaign of course).
Train stations are not much better mind you. Armies of people thrusting
freesheets at you. Oh the litter. Then onto the train and along with the free
coffee in first class come more paper boys and girls.
Partly to halt the tide I took a copy of
The Guardian. I was aware from last night’s breathless Newsnight report by
David Grossman (well done to John Denham and Roy Hattersley for showing a bit
of fight by the way, and to Roy in particular for reminding Paxo that TV
journalism was once a serious calling, not a game in gossip-montage) that The
Guardian was urging the Labour Party to dump GB.
The paper will be pleased to know I also heard about this via Five Live in the
cab to the station, and Breakfast News when I arrived there.
is about impact. The Daily Telegraph has been somewhat monopolising impact. The
Guardian has had few places to go. A nibble with the Lib Dems here, a cuddle
with the Greens there, but hardly high impact. Calling on GB to go …
I’m not saying this is the only reason, and I don’t doubt
there are well-meaning people, among them the ones who used to opine that if
only Blair went and Brown took over the world would become a perfect place, who
really think Labour would benefit from a sudden change.
But writing an
editorial, a column or a blog is easy compared with managing your way through a
crisis for Parliament and politics. What they do not offer is an answer to the
question ‘and then what?’
There is a lot of talk about Alan Johnson, and as I head
to his constituency, I am well aware of his qualities, not least what he has
done for the NHS (rarely in the news these days because Labour has vastly
improved it as promised). But I see no evidence he is about to make a move or a
challenge. Nor does the Guardian have to worry about the likelihood of GB’s
successor having to hold an election at the worst possible time – a legitimate
A few other things I spotted in the paper. A page of ‘money-can’t-buy’ puffery
for the BNP. The ease with which some in the liberal press has fallen for their
‘moderation’ strategy is a disgrace.
On page one, to be fair to the Guardian, more evidence of David Cameron’s
dreadful European policy -these are the European elections remember – and his
cuddling up to gay-hating, German-hating Czechs and Poles rather than Sarkozy
If a Labour leader in Opposition was in bed with people a tenth as bad as
this, we would never hear the end of it.
But the two things in the paper that really caught
my eye were less prominent.
A trail for an online piece by former Labour MP Bryan Gould … ‘ If Labour
goes down without a trace, society’s least well off will be without a
And even more so a letter by Newcastle councillor Jeremy Beecham, who
lists the improvements in schools, housing, children’s services, policing and
other areas of life in his inner-city ward and concludes ‘as a probably
beneficiary of any Conservative government, I tremble for the future of my
Would that our left-leaning media, as they whip themselves
day by day into ever greater frenzies, cared as much about the people Jeremy