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Tuesday 27 September 2016

Corbyn Fans’ Media Problem

As the Labour Party conference continues today in the highly sound City of Liverpool, many who back leader Jeremy Corbyn may not be best disposed towards the press, or even the media generally. Their antipathy towards even the BBC - political editor Laura Kuenssberg has attracted considerable stick, not all of it deserved - as well as papers like the Guardian and Mirror is threatening to blind them to reality.
And that reality is that, whether you choose to engage with the media establishment or not, it is free to say what it likes and when it likes about your chosen political party. It may not seem fair, but for the press at least, it is not a question of fairness. Papers have an agenda. This much was recognised by the New Labour team, which so many in the Corbyn camp now revile. But they won, and it looks so far like Jezza won’t.
Perhaps you all think I’m being too harsh on Corbyn and his team? Well, let me give you all an example. Meet Abi Wilkinson. She is, whisper it quietly, a journalist. A freelance journalist. This means she has to sell her copy to media outlets willing to buy it. The security of a staff job, for her, does not exist. So she has no attachment to any one newspaper’s political agenda. She is at the Labour conference this week.
And this is what she said earlier yesterday on Twitter: “Journalists who stoke hostility towards benefits by finding minority, unsympathetic cases are complicit in destruction of the welfare state … Anyone could find ourselves unemployed, disabled, reliant on the state for survival. It's an act of collective self-sabotage. So stupid … If this continues we will eventually realise and be sorry, and it'll be too late [because the] original creation required extraordinary circumstances”. She is on your side, Corbyn fans.
You might not have thought this when Ms Wilkinson turned up to the Momentum meeting on media bias. As Adam Bienkov of politics.co.uk noted, “Abi Wilkinson says she writes for the Guardian and Telegraph. Some hisses. Audience member mutters: ‘the Guardian's as bad as the Telegraph’”. And there was more in the media hostility stakes.
Bienkov again. “Audience member tells Abi Wilkinson: ‘I can't accept that we should change how we approach you. You should change how you approach us’”. Ms Wilkinson took the whole experience in good part, reflecting this morning “Think a lot of audience members wanted to express anger and don't often have ear of a journalist, but it was mainly very polite tbh”. Indeed. Corbyn followers should be glad of that ear.
You only have to look at the more hostile part of the press to see that, as papers have either ignored the conference altogether - the Sun, despite three of its staff being in Liverpool, has kept it off the front page - or have been rabidly hostile, such as the Mail with its “LABOUR IN LA-LA-LAND” headline. Even the i has gone with “Labour’s Socialist Manifesto”, and “Socialism” is a term the press will keep using - very negatively.

You don’t engage with the press? They’ll make something up anyway. You don’t engage with the broadcasters? They have to either speculate or ignore you. This matters, because the people who read those papers and watch those TV programmes are the ones whose votes you need to get into power. I assume that Corbyn fans want to get into power.

Blair’s team understood this. They got into power. It is as simple as that.


Fishman Dave said...

Blair and his team got into power by sucking up to the whims of Murdoch et al. Pursuing a neo-liberal agenda was as far from the founding principles of Labour as you could get without overtly becoming a tory

Tim Fenton said...

How terrible that was, eh?

Minimum wage, all that money invested in the NHS and Schools, more money for those with disabilities, tax credits to help the less well off.

The problem with banging on about Murdoch - and Iraq, just to anticipate the inevitable - is that you lose sight of all the benefits of being in power.

Getting into power requires compromise. Without power all you have is a protest movement, no matter how ideologically pure.

It is, once again, as simple as that.

JP Janson De Couet said...

With some parts of the press they made something up whether you engage with them or not, it seems to me.

Roy said...

Blair didn't ride Murdoch's coat tails into power. Blair--indeed almost any halfway sane Labour Leader--was ALWAYS going to win in 1997. John Major's government was visibly exhausted and seen as condoning corruption. Murdoch's play was to acknowledge that and jump on the winning bandwagon. It looked good and his titles milked it for all they were worth.

Blair's mistake was to swallow the Murdoch myth and believe he couldn't win without him

LiamKav said...

Whole heartedly agree. I'd love a properly socialist government, but at the moment that's not going to happen. Until the Labour party gets over the Blair sized chip on its shoulder and remembers what worked for him (and what didn't) I can't see them getting in power any time soon.

Still, I'm expecting a "know the cost of eveything and the value of nothing" comments rant any moment now...

Anonymous said...

There's Fishman Dave, buffing up his ideological purity.

Well, I don't much understand the "neo-" prefix, but he could well do with refreshing his knowledge of how LRC and early Labour MPs got elected. It involved a bit of sucking up to, and compromises with the old Liberal Party. And none too much of the "socialist" thing, either.

Anonymous said...

And while we're at it, Tim........You still haven't identified who YOU think would be a "strong leader" from the New Labour gang.

Anonymous said...

Right on cue.....out come the New Labour apologists, full of the usual bullshit about compromise, never able to explain how New Labour's "compromises" (read: gutless surrender) have been anything other than deadly for the rest of the world and our most vulnerable citizens, never able to explain why the New Labour gang shoved forward a nonentity drugs lobbyist instead of standing themselves, never able to accept they have been routed democratically, never able to cease lies, smears and hypocrisy.

Plainly, it's not only the tories who are corrupt gobshites and paranoid curtain-twitchers.

Paul said...

Hey, Anon. Labour were routed democratically by the SNP. Think about it. Labour's historical numbers of Scots seats would easily have outweighed the Tory majority of 12. I Don't think that happened because the SNP looked like delivering a socialist paradise.

Unknown said...

'The problem with banging on about Murdoch - and Iraq, just to anticipate the inevitable - is that you lose sight of all the benefits of being in power.'

Tim, I get your point, and largely agree with it; however, you yourself spend a lot of energy - rightly - banging on about Murdoch, so why do you laud New Labour for hanging on to his every word, flying around the world to meet him, etc? Surely it might be more principled to ignore and/or argue against the misogynist, racist oaf - rather than end up being Godfather to his kid?

Anonymous said...

Hey, Paul. New Labour have just been routed democratically without anybody "delivering a socialist paradise" - whatever that means.

On the other hand you could always settle for the capitalist paradise delivered by New Labour to the people of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. But of course the people of those devastated countries might just have a different view. So might the millions of refugees.

Or you could settle for the nationalism that has never brought anything but misery and genocide throughout history.

But don't let any of that bother you, since it obviously hasn't so far.

Anonymous said...

Paul said "Think about it. Labour's historical numbers of Scots seats would easily have outweighed the Tory majority of 12."

This comes across to me as though Paul is somehow arguing that Labour holding onto their seats in Scotland that were won in 2015 by SNP would reduce the Tory majority of 12. Bizarre!

If Labour gained all 56 SNP Westminster seats then the Tory majority would still be intact.

The Professor

Anonymous said...

How marvellous our far right media has begun using "Socialism" and "Socialists" again.

But I bet they stop as soon as the penny drops with them that constant repetition will mean people start looking into the REAL meaning of the words instead of the demonising, lying bullshit churned out by, er, monopoly-owned capitalist media.

Having endured another Great Depression, mass unemployment, widespread poverty and destruction of whole regions of the country (as well as whole countries), wars and genocide, elimination of manufacturing industries, and theft by the banks, most already know what "capitalism" means.

Meanwhile, New Labour proved its "electability" by ignoring all the economic warnings......and then getting roundly smashed in two general elections. And they try to tell others how to become "electable"......hypocritical comedy of the highest order.

Unknown said...

You said that Corbyn Fans’ Media Problem, their mistrust of journalists, is now verging on paranoia.
Remember that non-tax paying expatriate billionaires control most of the media, and the Guardian and Mirror are still wedded to New Labour. BBC is riddled with Tory sympathisers an ex-Murdoch head of news and of course Kuenssberg.
My point being that it isn't paranoia if they really are out to get you.

Anonymous said...

If Labour hadn't lost those seats to the SNP, how would that have reduced the Tory majority, unless the Tartan Tories were to start openly supporting their Blue cousins?

AN Other

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Tim, some of us remember that in their latter years New Labour went after the disabled in a manner that the Tories would have been proud of. I well remember Blair using the rhetoric of how many new hospitals benefits fraud cost.

Or maybe I imagined all those sleepless nights comforting my disabled and distressed wife as she lost her disability benefits yet again, only for us to appeal and have it reinstated - but only after some weeks, even months.

LiamKav said...

The worry is that Labour members are attacking the wrong targets. The comment about "The Guardian being as bad as the Telegraph" highlights that... even if you disagree with the Guardian, to say that it's on the same level as the Telegraph is crazy. Likewise, for all the BBC's faults, it is surely not on the same level as FOX News, or even Sky News?

It seems it is easier to attack the people who are closer but not actually the same politically to yourself than those who are far away. It's probably why Labour seems to be spend so much of its time punching to the left and right within the party rather than outwards towards UKIP and the Tories. Labour need to remember their enemies; the Daily Mail, the Sun, and the other popular outlets that will drag them through the mud. And I'm still worried that they don't have any plans on how to cope with them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul, your assertion that "Labour's historical numbers of Scots seats would easily have outweighed the Tory majority of 12" is wrong. The figures for 2015 were:
Tory 331 seats
Lab 232
SNP 56
LibDem 8
Others 15

Majority = 12

If we now give Labour all of the SNP's seats, Labour now have 288 seats and SNP zero.
However the majority remains exactly the same at 12. Moving seats from one opposition party to a different opposition party doesn't alter the majority.

Anonymous said...

One would think that Zelo Street of all blogs which delves so much into tabloid mendacity would at least understand the rapidly decreasing influence of tabloid media which will accelerate rapidly before the next general election (that's if it's held in 2020).
Of course they have influence but nothing like they used to. Once a decline begins it does not get better, It gets worse and it becomes rapid. People may buy one of the worst like The Sun but Murdoch editors fool themselves into thinking the readers actually take them seriously these days. That contempt can only increase.

And that coupled with a Brexit that can only become an increasing & destructive burden for the Tories who will bear the blame for it, a sort of anti-politician like Jeremy Corbyn IS the man for times.

In that sense Corbyn is so much like Donald Trump it's not funny- not in policy or presentation but Trump is the USA's "anti-politician" and he has re-vitalized millions of Americans )most who don't have a clue what eh stands for) into becoming active voters.

A return to a Blairite risks political disaster for Labour, not the opposite and I'm puzzled that so many are wedded to the past and think that to crucify Corbyn will bring victory & power ( who gives a stuff who runs the country if it's going to be a Tory or a Blairite?..nothing will change under either).

Purely from a publicist's and public relations angle, Corbyn is a winner and the very fact his crucification in the media and from the Labour right-wing persists shows him to be one.

johnny conspiranoid said...

How can we be sure that anybody actually buys newspapers?

Brian Higgy said...

What makes the Labour unelectable is not Corbyn, but the constant sniping from the right wing of the party. If the whole party got behind their leader, WHOEVER HE/SHE IS, then at least they could put up a united front against the Tories. They are the enemy. If the right wing of the party are so "electable" then why did Miliband lose?

Anonymous said...

To Brian Higgy.

Not only did New Labour Miliband lose, so did New Labour Brown.

The ones who were supposed to be "electable." Those with "economic expertise."

Blair saw it coming and got out before it could all be pinned on him.

Now New Labour Smith has been given his marching orders by party members.

But apparently nukes-happy, austerity-supporting, warmongering New Labour are still "electable."

Yeah, right.

LiamKav said...

I think you have to seperate those MPs who don't like Corbyn for ideological reasons from those who just don't think he's very good at his job. The hiring and firing of someone recovering from cancer, the moments of ignoring the party line and doing his own thing, the pettiness (such as when he couldn't be bothered talking to Cameron). Those are what worry me. I always get the impression of someone being given managerial responsibilities without actually being very good at it. Just because you're a great centre-forward, doesn't mean you know how to run Manchester United.

Anyway, things are looking a bit more positive. The leadership vote is over, and so it is in everyone's best interests to get behind Corbyn and present a united front.

On the papers declining influence, then yes, numbers are falling. However, the last 3 (at least) votes have all been announced as "the social media vote/election", and yet things have carried on largely as they did before. The Sun has gone from 3 million to 1.7 million over the last 6 years, and the Mail has gone from 2.1 million to 1.6. That's still well above the highest left-wing papers sales, with the Mirror only being on 800,000. Of the top 10 papers, at least 7 are fairly right-wing. The right dominates the printed media landscape. And the problem with the alternatives is that we've got no figures. Do you check how many people are going to blogs? Who they follow on Twitter? Whether they have The Canary or Breitbart in the Bookmarks?