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With the right-wing media kicking Ed, ‘Blairite zombie’ conspiracy theories from the left don’t exactly help him

Posted on 11 January 2012 | 11:01am

So as expected, Ed Miliband’s speech got the thumbs down from most of the broadcasters yesterday. The mood around the Labour leader has been a good illustration of how the modern media works, and why the right-wing press continues to have a disproportionate influence on public life.

Pretty much since he became leader, and certainly since he took a robust line on phone-hacking, the right-wing press has moved up a few gears in its negativity about Ed. The significance here is less the influence upon the readers of those papers than upon the broadcasters, who as I argued at the Leveson Inquiry tend to take their lead from the press and become a kind of echo chamber for their views. So ‘public opinion’ becomes a combination of what the papers are saying, and what the broadcasters say the papers are saying. The public tend not to get much of a look-in, other than through polls which have been commissioned to reflect the view the commissioning paper had in the first place. Stand by for a lot of ‘Ed flops’ polls while this cycle is worked through.

Some members of the public, as was clear from comments here and elsewhere yesterday, are onto this unhealthy symbiotic relationship. I didn’t hear Ed’s interview on the Today programme, but reading twitter I sense a lot of anger at the way the interview was conducted. I see also that some commenters yesterday saw fit to measure second by second the coverage Ed was getting, a couple of clips surrounded by a lot of negative comment presented as news. The comment by Janete on my blog yesterday (two from the top) is worth reading. As for the one preceding it, did Channel 4 really only do 20 seconds on his speech?

One would imagine in these circumstances that the left media would do more to highlight the relationship between agenda-setting press and broadcast echo chamber. Instead, many of the left-leaning commentators give Ed problems from the other direction.

So Seumas Milne in The Guardian today takes aim at ‘Blairite zombies’ who seemingly are going round the place undermining the leader and trying to take him in the wrong direction. They played much the same game when Gordon Brown was PM, constantly seeing – and reporting – Blairite conspiracies, rarely letting facts get in the way, like the fact that three of the top zombies, myself, Peter Mandelson and Philip Gould, went back to help him.

When I study Milne’s piece to find out which Blairite zombies are currently at it, he cites defence spokesman Jim Murphy and Maurice Glasman. That Jim was a supporter of TB, and indeed of David Miliband whose leadership campaign he ran, is beyond doubt. But as chance would have it, I was with some of Ed Miliband’s team last Friday when Jim made the intervention to which Milne has taken exception. What is clear to me is that it was made not just with Ed’s blessing but as part of a concerted effort organised with his office.

As for Glasman, who seemingly had a pop at Ed’s leadership recently, it seems to have escaped Milne’s notice that the Number 1 Blairite, namely TB himself, has given pretty short shrift to the whole ‘Blue Labour’ thing. To qualify him as a Blairite, let alone a zombie, reveals Milne is as guilty of ‘fit the prism’ journalism as the right-wing journalists doing in Ed from a different political angle.

So we are left with the conclusion, familiar to followers of UK politics, that the right-wing media does a great job of undermining progressive leaders, and the left-wing press has a habit of helping them.

If there was a Blairite conspiracy to do in Ed, I think I would know about it. There isn’t. Far better that his supporters turn the fire on the real conspiracy in UK politics – the one between Cameron and Clegg, backed by most of the media, to do things for which they have no real mandate.

## Last chance for me to use my own blog to plug The Happy Depressive, published as an ebook tomorrow. Having slagged off The Guardian above, may I thank them again for the extract they ran on Saturday, which certainly got noticed. Out and about doing various errands this morning, three people told me they had downloaded the ebook as a result of the Guardian piece (further evidence of my view that if you are selling something, the mainstream media is still key to getting digital activity going), and two others stopped me to say they had depression. On which point, finally, I am looking forward to seeing Freddie Flintoff’s documentary on depression on sport. The more people like him, and others in sport Now must rush, am doing an interview on depression for a magazine in Albania (where mental health attitudes are not great) and hope to get it over with before PMQs.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with much of what you say about the right-wing media rubbishing Ed Miliband – it would be incredibly hard for any Labour leader to break through that, and they would rubbish any Labour leader.

    But the trouble is, Ed makes it easy for them.  He has not been bought by the Labour party, never mind the public, as a credible leader – you only have to look at the comparative rankings of the last 8 or so opposition leaders, cited in Peter Kellner’s article.  What ever you say about the opinion polls being commissioned in support of a pre-cooked editorial line, they have been consistent from the beginning in rating support for Ed behind support for the Labour party.

    What should be done about it is another matter.  There’s not much point, as a Labour supporter, in banging on about it unless there is a really credible alternative – especially when some of what Ed is saying is breaking through.

    As for Glasman being a Blairite – he actually attacked Blair roundly in one interview (can’t remember where) when Blue Labour was briefly coming into fashion.

  • I am not a member of any political party and I get my news from the Internet, Tv and Radio.  I vote in every election, local and national.

    I listened to Mr Milliband on the Radio yesterday morning being interviewed by the bulldog Humphreys and then one of the other presenters likened Humphreys and Milliband to ‘Jedward’.  Now even before that awful comparison was made I have to say that I was left with a feeling of emptiness from the interview.  Mr Milliband does nothing to inspire me, but then I have to be honest and say that I cannot think of one single politician that does.You are right in one sense that the public perception can be and has been derived from the popular press, included in that is the BBC but then when you look at the prioritising of stories as was the case on the BBC news last night when the main story was the HS2 and the second story was the ‘Independence and Break up up of the Union’ there has to be something wrong with the press, don’t you think.But also the person of the individual has to be considered surely by a party when electing a leader,  a dreary voiced individual who may be the cleverest and brightest of the bunch is, unfortunately not going to go down well with members of the public, no matter how good his or her intentions and will to do good, are.  Unfortunate but that is the nature of the beast of TV and Radio and insufferable columnists, who then pillory the person for his or her personal ‘shortcomings’ rather than their political acumen.  

  • Kernow Castellan

    I can imagine you holding your head in your hands. You (and the Dark Lord) knew that unity was ultra-important, and made sure you got it in the 1990s.

    I don’t believe that the media is more right-wing that it was in 1994, and in many cases the job is easier now (as coalitions are more shaky and have inherent cracks).

  • ronnie

    Important to keep a clear view of the separate issues.

    Is media reporting on Labour shamefully biased and unfair? Yes.

    Is Ed Miliband up to the job? No.

  • Bitterly frustrating – the media machine is grinding and crushing him.
    The disgusting arrogance of Cameron should be the focus of attention as he exhibits his crass disregard for all and sundry.
    His adhorrent attack on Ed Balls being just one of so many recent and ongoing examples. Yet the media picks up more on a typo than Tory crass arrogance.
    Labour, again, needs to look outwards and focus on ensuring that it is heard clearly – the coalition is crushing and dividing the hopes and aspirations of a generation. These wounding cuts kill growth .

  • Michele

    Re depression among sportspeople this was also a great interview (with Graeme Obree this week)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b019867h

    I don’t think our ‘culture’ helps anyone to be resilient, there’s too much generalised mudslinging (I do my share re ‘hacks’).

  • Chris lancashire

    Might be better to stop blaming the media and look at Ed M’s performance Mr Campbell. And just between you and me here’s a tip. Don’t even refer to TB on the day he managed to pay only £350k tax on his £12m income.

    • Dave Simons

      Three cheers for Chris at last! He’s concerned about people on fat incomes not paying their rightful share of tax. I’ve absolutely no doubt he’s scrutinised the complexities of Tony Blair’s income and calculated exactly how much tax he should have paid and what he has paid (so far), and from all the hard and tedious  work he’s put into this research he has come to a fair and balanced conclusion which he has summarised above. Now perhaps he’ll do the same for those multiple fat cats who avoid and evade tax by means both fair and foul and who form the bedrock of the ‘Welfare Scrounger-Bashing’ British Conservative Party.

      • Chris lancashire

        Could we have some names or is that just a generalised slur?

  • Robrob2002

    The media will never make things easy – and it is a real challenge for any Labour leader to cut through this and connect with the public.
     
    However, Ed appears to be making almost no progress.
     
    I think we need a change – and quickly.

    • Calling for a change of leader contributes to the problem, as Alastair underlined, and helps the right-wing media with their cause.

      We can hardly expect to be portrayed as a united front if we’re not united, can we?

  • Ehtch

    A topical point would be the media fuss, or should I say lack of it, on Cameron’s humdinging balls up last Sunday on the Union question that is this week’s hot topic. Cameron’s foot in mouth has put the Union in more danger, stirring separatism. And the Guardian isn’t helping either with their yes/no poll to the whole World, with the Netherlands showing they’re all for it!; (click “Skip and go to map”- looks more blue(yes) than red, but only just)
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/interactive/2012/jan/09/scotland-independence-referendum?intcmp=239

    How nieve the Torys to think all the details can be sorted in just eighteen months. There is mounds and mounds of fine details that need to be sorted, and Alex Salmond even is being optimistic that it can be sorted by autumn 2014, I think. There is the question of removing the blue from the union jack after all, don’t you know, if it is a total “yes”. But myself hope it is “devo-max” or whatever they call it, and become like an US state to the UK with their own tax raising powers etc..

  • Actually Ed’s stance on phone-hacking was one area where he got a positive press, the idea they then went for him sounds a little paranoid. Why not ignore the conspiracy theories and get him to say something substantive? But you’re right elsewhere, the problem with Labour is Labour.

  • Michele

    I didn’t like the way one panellist on David Dimbleby’s TV programme a few weeks ago described EM as having ‘stabbed his brother in the back’ for having stood against him.
    I don’t think EM did so merely by standing. 

    But his supporters probably felt as I did when talk of a new leader first started and the idea of DM being the inevitable new incumbent seemed a little uncomfortable, like a shoo/shoe-in.
    I felt that way till the interviews of all candidates were held on R4’s PM programme, spread apart, one per week.

    The last two interviewees were asked the killer question the others hadn’t been …… if they won the selection and had appointed their sibling to a shadow Cabinet role but he wasn’t doing a good job ….. would they sack him.

    The answer is obvious and DM had the grace to refuse to satisfy such journalistic pyrotechnics. 
    EM, the following week, hadn’t …. despite the week of thought he could have given to the matter.

  • Jacquie R

    Your point about the right wing press creating the narrative is very important, and one that the Leveson Inquiry needs to address. Although how the problem can be dealt with – without breaking up the whole system of media ownership – is another matter!

    On Seamus Milne’s article, however, there is certainly a grain of truth in the impact of some New Labour folk. A large number of them (including ordinary party members) constantly criticise and undermine Ed. Others, including some very influential political journalists, seem to take a sadistic delight in completely uncalled for openly spiteful attacks, or snide digs, usually nothing to do with policy.

    And so … with the right, the establishment, the far left and sizeable chunks of his own party personally attacking him from different quarters, and for different reasons (usually self-serving), the constant carping matters very much indeed. Talk of a circular firing squad!

    But there is a glimmer of light. Yesterday David Miliband tweeted enthusuastically about his brother’s speech. Hopefully this – and other recent developments – are signs of a reconciliation and the possibility of David joining the shadow cabinet. Together they would make a formidable team and the party may actually unite around its leader.

    PS Didn’t time the Ed item on C4 News I mentioned yesterday, Alastair, but it was certainly shockingly fleeting.

  • AC, so know is the fault of the left wing media, well the Guardian, so it’s a great conspiracy between the right, Daily Mail and the left Guardian to undermine Ed Miliband. Have been reading your Diaries, YES we Conservatives likes to remind you of your poor review of Donald Dewar in the Scottish Elections, then it was not the fault of the press but of the candidate and his team, DD, and this Conservative had a high regard for the late Mr Dewar, so which is it AC, is EM as hopeless as DD or are you spinning, trying without much success to create an impression that WE the voters, the great unwashed don’t get EM and that we are so simple that the press controls our thoughts. If your going to spin please try to remember we read your diaries so you can give ten grand to Labour. Also since you help give Scotland devolution much to the wary approval of TB, how come VERY quite about Scotland. Waiting to see which way EM will jump.

  • Anonymous

    Its no surprise the media don’t back Ed because they wanted David all along. We in the Labour party have to fight this on the doorstep. We’ll never get a fair hearing from the right wing press. Ed and the team just has to keep plugging away and when people see for themselves the Tory-led government isn’t working, then we might have a chance.

  • Reaguns

    Alastair glad to see you back blogging, hope it’s a sign the black dog is at bay.

    I think it is humourous that people seem to be saying Ed’s personality is costing him more than policies. Come off it! If elections were about personality how could smug patronisers like Cameron get elected! I’m with Blair on this, brown and ed don’t lose due to personality but due to tax borrow and spend economics.
    Does Ed M buy this unscientific garbage or is it Ed Balls? If the latter sack him and replace with reeves, darling etc. If the former tough luck ed.

    Finally is the press right wing or does it support David Cameron?
    Right winger hate Cameron. Name me a more leftist Tory leader ever than Cameron?

  • Michele

    The referendum that was promised is not one to actually start the devolution process, it was simply the theoretical question ….

    ….. do we (as in the SNP) start the nitty gritty work, the fine deail and the accounting towards offering the separatism choice or would it be a waste of time as nobody wants it even in principle?….

    Why can that basic question not be asked soon?

    WTH would Salmond have to offer or talk about if the truth that is outed turns out really to be that less than a third of voters are really interested?
    There is a hell of a lot to be worked out, majorly among it all being just who owes what to whom? 
    Who funded oil exploration, who has funded the Barnett Formula for g-d knows how many decades?

  • Michele

    A change of leader before any election is cleaner and more honest than shortly after one.

  • KDouglas

    Having seen the goings on of the last few days, it’s reinforced my view that you must have been bloody good at your job, Alastair.

  • Hilary Harrison

    Dear Alastair
    I have not been happy with the Labour Party since Tony left. But you are so loyal and so shall I be, but it is hard at present. People I talk to are not convinced by Ed. They look for more clarity and leadership. You are right to say he is getting a bad press  – Labour leaders do, as you will know! But Ed’s interview on the Today programme was not good. I don’t think the winter fuel allowance is a crucial issue.

    Anyway, I shall download your new book.

    My best wishes and thank you for all your work for the Party, of which I have been a member for 30 years.

    Hilary Harrison
    Chester

  • Timdwelly

    Seumas milne is the real zombie, a man who would back the Taliban if they were anti USA. We know he has nothing to say from his column’s pull quote. On my edition of the grauniad it says “drop in text herey herey”. You have to laugh. PS Ed should go. Some good ideas but he isn’t going to cut it. Not PM material, no point pretending. Things are too serious with these clowns in government to put up a whining zonk up against them…

  • Michele

    Brilliant news just now that the Lords have shown they do understand the difference between ‘dying soon with cancer’ and ‘suffering while living with cancer’ and there won’t be the 12m time limit on enhanced entitlements.

    I wonder which papers will celebrate hearing that the Lords can understand the nuance that Cameron was incapable of no matter how many times it was explained?

  • Janiete

    Following Nick Watt’s comment laden report of Jim Murphy’s interview, Twitter was full of Labour supporters condemning Murphy for his disloyal intervention. Simultaneously the broadcast media had picked it up and were presenting it as a ‘Blairite v Red Ed’ story; one which, incidentally, fed the headlines for days.
     
    When I looked up the article in question (the original online version) where Jim Murphy’s actual words were quoted separately, it was clear that he hadn’t said anything to contradict accepted mainstream Labour policy. His comments were consistent with the need to tackle the deficit but not at a rate which squeezes out growth; in other words ‘the Darling plan’.
     
    The extent to which even our own supporters were taken in, highlights how easy it is to manipulate a message when words are ‘conveyed’ through a third party, especially one who wants to weave in his own agenda.  Unfortunately we cannot trust any sources any more. A comment (Roger McCarthy 6/1/12) in response to Mark Ferguson’s piece on Labour List contained an important point ‘the misrepresentations of the Guardian, BBC and Independent are more insidious and thus worse than those of the openly Tory press.’ The more we trust the source the more damage they do.
     
    It seems to me that the only way to cut through the poison, as you have often said Alastair, is to challenge the legitimacy of fusion of news and comment. Further, the ‘news’ element must properly reflect the content of a speech, announcement or press release, preferably by reporting the message verbatim where possible. If Leveson does look at the impact of the media on national politics, and for the sake of our democracy I hope he does, I hope it will lead to a return of more fundamental journalistic principles, in particular, accuracy and fairness.
     
    PS Thanks for referring to my comment yesterday; a better anger management tactic for me than shouting at the TV or writing to the BBC. I’m sick of getting their bog standard ‘sorry you feel our coverage wasn’t impartial but we don’t agree’ type reply.

  • Michele

    Smug patronisers like Cameron get elected because some cap doffers perceive another’s feelings of superiority to them as something to defer to … it must be true!

    There are a few such even here, who think that voting/supporting Toryism confers some status (other than that of lackey) on themselves and that not voting Tory denotes envy – the dim sort that don’t understand one can be a Labour supporter without being poor.

  • Michele

    I don’t know whether you’ll be relieved to know that the blog you are labelled after isn’t actually unhooked after all.  It is so from the head icon but not from your ID. 

  • Michele

    I’m not privy to the info that CL is and so I’ve not read anything about £350k tax or £12m income but I think that if I had the option of saving tax vs putting the money in to charities or movements I believe in, rather than support this Govt’s ideological changes, I would do so.

    If on the other hand TB has invested tax savings for his children I would feel disappointed.  One only needs so much on a plate.

    Doubtless CL can fill me in.

  • Michele

    Ah, it transpires that until recently TB was using his  vast income at least in part to fund his unpaid role as a Mid East envoy.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jan/25/tony-blair-speaker-landsdowne-partners

    What’s that word?  Oh yes, prism.

  • ronnie

    Loser talk. You’re on Alastair Campbell’s website for goodness sake! New Labour didn’t get into power by waiting for things to happen. We’ve got to create the energy – we’ve got to BE the energy. We’ve got to take the agenda to them. Above all, the lesson from 1997 is – leave nothing to chance. Does this sound like Ed Miliband to you? No, not to me either.

  • ronnie

    Loser talk. You’re on Alastair Campbell’s website for goodness sake! New Labour didn’t get into power by waiting for things to happen. We’ve got to create the energy – we’ve got to BE the energy. We’ve got to take the agenda to them. Above all, the lesson from 1997 is – leave nothing to chance. Does this sound like Ed Miliband to you? No, not to me either.

  • Janiete

    I assume you are referring to the Telegraph’s article about T Blair and tax payments. Did you read down to the statement:
    ‘There is no suggestion that Mr Blair’s tax affairs are anything other than legitimate. His accounts are audited by KPMG, one of the world’s biggest accountancy firms.’
    or did you just stop at the headline?

    If you are genuinely concerned about avoidance of tax, I wonder if you would support a completely open system, as in Norway and Finland, where everyone’s tax returns are available online. 

    I think it would greatly reduce opportunities for tax evasion and would probably deter tax avoidance as well. I would love to see a system like this introduced here, then we could all check what you ‘businessmen’ are up to. 

  • Janiete

    I assume you are referring to the Telegraph’s article about T Blair and tax payments. Did you read down to the statement:
    ‘There is no suggestion that Mr Blair’s tax affairs are anything other than legitimate. His accounts are audited by KPMG, one of the world’s biggest accountancy firms.’
    or did you just stop at the headline?

    If you are genuinely concerned about avoidance of tax, I wonder if you would support a completely open system, as in Norway and Finland, where everyone’s tax returns are available online. 

    I think it would greatly reduce opportunities for tax evasion and would probably deter tax avoidance as well. I would love to see a system like this introduced here, then we could all check what you ‘businessmen’ are up to. 

  • Ehtch

    The big problem is that the scottish people have got to know what they are voting for, therefore all the details have to be sorted, so questions asked before the referendum is held can be answered.

    An interesting similarity in recent past is to study how the process of the splitting of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on new years day 1993 was sorted. But obviously there is much more to Scotland splitting from the rest of the UK, especially the O-word, nudge-nudge wink-wink, and queenies Balmoral, and etc etc etc..

  • Ehtch

    The big problem is that the scottish people have got to know what they are voting for, therefore all the details have to be sorted, so questions asked before the referendum is held can be answered.

    An interesting similarity in recent past is to study how the process of the splitting of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on new years day 1993 was sorted. But obviously there is much more to Scotland splitting from the rest of the UK, especially the O-word, nudge-nudge wink-wink, and queenies Balmoral, and etc etc etc..

  • Ehtch

    edit – “how naive” even ach

  • Ehtch

    edit – “how naive” even ach

  • Dave Simons

    Quite right Chris – General Slur, retired, resident in Mayfair and Chipping Sodbury, Loamshire Hunt, was one of the principle culprits that I had in mind.

  • Chris lancashire

    Got it now Michele. If a Tory politician avoids tax – let’s say Ashcroft for instance – it’s completely evil. If Tone avoids the thick end of £4m tax he, of course, will give it to charity, help to save the Middle East (which he bombed) or invest it for society. He wouldn’t of course build an extension to the mews on his London mansion or pay off the mortgage on his Buckinghamshire estate. Right. Good to know that.

  • Chris lancashire

    As it happens Janiete I would support an open tax system. And did I suggest Mr Blair had done anything illegal? No, he quite sanely used legal tax avoidance measures to reduce his tax bill – just as say Michael Ashcroft of the Tories has done by residing (hilariously) in Belize for a time.
    What I find hugely amusing is that a lot of commenters on this site can’t actually bring themselves to condemn Blair for a legally correct and morally questionable action whilst, through blind party allegiance, ready to heap opprobrium on any Tory doing the same thing. In my book they’re as bad as each other.
    P.S. you need to distinguish between avoidance and evasion – one is legal the other isn’t.

  • Michele

    You must have difficulty reading and/or understanding.
    Get your blinkers off.

  • Michele

    Can we have your informed breakdown of all this? 
    You must be informed, being all resepctable like wot you iz.
    Your ‘the day he managed’ implies that the £12m income was earned in one year.
    In fact I believe it’s the income accrued since he resigned as PM/MP nearly a decade ago.
    My understanding of tax-free allownaces is that some of them are recurring, they stay in use year after year.

    Get your mortar board on CL and apprise us with FACTS, not your grubby COMMENT.

  • Michele

    Re your PS: I would suggest that Janiete’s last paragraph lets us see she understands the two terms perfectly well.

  • Deportivo

    A small step forward for the BBC would be for it to preface every report about what newspapers are saying about anything political with the formulation  “The Tory Party supporting Daily ……………  dismissed Ed Milliband’s speeech as pathetic ” or “the Labour party supporting Daily …………… described Ed Milliband’s speech as visionary”
    Not only would it inform and educate the listener but also it would enable them to make up their own mind about bias.
    The correct affiliation for a newspaper would be based on who they supported at the last election.
    How pleasant it would be for Guardian readers to be continually reminded that they supported the Liberals in 2010 and Thatcher in 1979

  • Janiete

    Thank you Michele!

  • Michele

    You’ve managed to take the blog completely off-topic CL, I suppose it’s what we all do, if not for motives like your own.

    I was wrong where I’ve talked somewhere or other about TB’s millions being spread over several years but you are wrong to stick to the likes of the Toxigraph describing his companies’ incomes as his and his alone.

    Anyway, seems to me that the Toxi needs to look in to the papers filed by all the subsidiaries.  I don’t expect you to agree.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/tony-blair/8999890/Tony-Blair-and-the-8million-tax-mystery.html

    Care to pass that along to mumsnet?

  • Chris lancashire

    OK here goes. One of Blair’s companies (he has at least 12 which some people find quite handy – me included – for shifting profit around ensuring that each receives small company relief) declared a turnover of £12m for the year ended March 2011. He has, of course, legitimate expenses to set against that income – staff, travel, rent, other expense which amazingly – some would say incredibly – came to £8.7m – no detailed breakdown is available. With other costs set against this the Company – Windrush Ventures – declared a profit of only £1m which, with CT at 28% gives a tax liability of £315,000. I am not suggesting Mr Blair has done anything illegal particularly as his accounts are audited by KPMG and, I am sure, he is the recipient of the very best tax advice.

    And, no, this income did not accrue since he resigned as PM/MP – this is the income of just one of his at least 12 companies for one year.

    That enough facts for now?

  • Anonymous

    Just caught “This Week” with the ever excellent Andrew Neil, Alan Johnson and Michael Portillo.
    They said that in Texas they’d say Cameron was “All hat and no cattle” ie plays and looks the part of a statesman despite not necessarily having principles and ideas, being, as Christopher Hitchens put it: “Content free.”
    Whereas Miliband is “All cattle and no hat” ie he has good ideas but people think he doesn’t sound right, look right etc.

    If they keep doing this I might be tempted to vote for Miliband, (though he’d first have to denounce the EU and all its works).

    Do politicians have to be stylish? Aren’t there enough people in the country like me who vote on principles and ideas, and if undecided would vote against the shiny polished ones?

    I am reminded of Thatcher’s words on Clement Attlee: “He was a serious man and a patriot. Quite contrary to the general tendency of politicians in the 1990s, he was all substance and no show”.

  • mickelmas

    I do agree with the vast majority of what you say, Alastair. Yes, Ed has had a protracted assault from our right-wing Press (I would extend that right-wing political attack to the BBC and the other TV news broadcast channels). You think this ‘Ed flops’ media attention is just part of a cycle (which, presumably, will eventually come to an end) but the media’s concerted attack on Labour began with Tony Blair and, 14 years later, is still in full flow. We have to accept that whoever is the Labour leader/PM will be generally treated disgracefully by the media therefore the only way to counterbalance this negative force is by strength of character and charisma (NB I have excluded ‘policy’). Gordon had character but not charisma (but still would have won in 2010 had it not been for too many back-stabbing malevolent individuals in the PLP). I fear that Ed has neither character nor charisma. Furthermore, he lacks basic rhetorical and debating skills necessary to convince a dubious electorate (and you cannot blame a hostile media for those personal shortcomings).

  • mickelmas

    Another ‘small’ step for the BBC would be for them to preface every interview with a Labour politician with “viewers should be warned that the interviewer will be aggressive and accusatory throughout and prevent the person from completing a sentence before interrupting.”

  • mickelmas

    Your comment that the Leveson Inquiry should address the fact that the right-wing Press create the political narrative is important BUT this issue (particularly the bias of the BBC) should have been addressed by ministers like Ben Bradshaw and his predecessors at CMS. 

  • Chris lancashire

    Actually I prefer the Independent’s report. Sorry to upset your prejudices but I can honestly not remember the last time I opened a Telegraph – bit boring and stodgy for me.

    And yes, I’m sure it would be worthwhile looking at his other 11 companies.

  • Michele

    It’s a long time since John Humphreys conducted an interview that didn’t end up as yet another showcase for what he plainly considers his own talents.

    I’m really liking Sarah Montague these days, she’s by far the best on Hard Talk and oh the relief of a woman newsperson that’s not glossed-up as if she’s off on the pull as soon as time’s up.

  • Michele

    Having not been able to hear the interview with John Humphrys on Today  I was stumbled across it here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9674000/9674764.stm
    It’s nearly 20mins.

    I didn’t think the veteran interviewer was as dogmatic as usual or interrupted as much as he often does but he does keep on with a stubborn insistence that EM should use the words he has in his questions …. very odd.
    I think that (like Ed Balls a week or so ago on another radio programme) EM did much much better than he does at PMQs. 
    Perhaps that’s because although JH is often rough he’s not dismissive, the tactic employed so often by Cameron.
    The gladiatoral habits of PMQs can be fun at times but I’m not sure that progress/development as a smart alec is good for society.  The repeated quip about EM’s ‘scripted jokes’ hit home because as well as not being a smarmy git EM isn’t a natural comedian.

    Perhaps it’s time John Bercow looked to his own performance; he ran proceedings in a pretty fair way till recently. 
    Democracy shouldn’t make allowances for hereditary smugness and bad manners, lack of respect.  Flash ‘arry isn’t acceptable in modern society.  If JB’s also inhibited by the origins vs flashman balance he should stand down, it’s time there was some real order.

  • Anonymous

    “oh the relief of a woman newsperson that’s not glossed-up as if she’s off on the pull as soon as time’s up. ” Heh heh!

    I like Andrew Neil. I believe he is equally brutal to all politicians and I believe his much more frightening and effective than humphrys or paxman, he knows his economics and his facts and sets beautiful traps. Seen his interview with Cameron?

  • Michele

    Yes I dare suggest there’s a dress code for the women staffers on Andrew Neil’s programme, just as there evidently is for men on all newsy things.

    Have a good weekend 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant pro-Ed article on the “right wing media” today:
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/edwest/100129730/why-cant-we-be-more-like-the-germans/

  • Anonymous

    Michele, me no understand:

    “Yes I dare suggest there’s a dress code for the women staffers on Andrew Neil’s programme, just as there evidently is for men on all newsy things.”
    ?

    A good weekend to you too 🙂

  • Michele

    No, actually it isn’t.

    You’ve agreed elsewhere that the subsidiaries are relevant.  That renders any assumptions that they have not aso paid their fair / legal dues (which is implicit in your and all the rag hacks’ assumptions about the parent company) meaningless speculation.

    You know the cure.

  • Arthur Murray

    About 82% of all the national nwspapers sold every day support the Conservatives—that’s about 27 million readers, every day.  If that 27 million represent the pool from which the Conservative vote is drawn, then at the general election in May 2010, 40% of those readers actually turned out and voted Conservative