Those expecting our free and fearless press to get off its collective backside and perform a little Proper Journalism™ on the subject of the Labour Party leadership and deputy leadership contests may be setting the bar rather too high: in most cases, accurate copy won’t be happening, and in-depth analysis is totally out of the question. We can get a flavour of how the coverage will pan out from Telegraph pundit Allison Pearson.
Allison Pearson - sneering at the appearance ...
And the candidacy giving us the starkest examples of the depths to which the right-wing press are prepared to go is that of shadow business secretary and Salford and Eccles MP Rebecca Long Bailey. Those who have met Becky, as she prefers to be called, know only a smart and likeable individual, who has that key ability - to be a good listener.
... of Becky Long Bailey
This counts as nothing with the press pack. Even Pippa Crerar, who is supposed to work for the nominally Labour-supporting Mirror, sniped yesterday “A close ally of Long Bailey tells me: ‘She's struggling to deal with Santa not being real’”. Thus the bar was set very low indeed. Ms Pearson was soon along to set it yet lower.
Under the headline “Aliens are among us … and they’re running to be leader of the Labour Party!” she wrote (and, to quote Theresa May, I am not making this us) “The shadow business secretary, who looks like the love child of the Roswell alien and Mrs Merton, just confirmed that she is running to succeed Jeremy Corbyn”. Think about that.
Not only was it gratuitous and unnecessary, it was totally out of order. Worse, though, was that this sub-Katie Hopkins abuse got past all the relevant editors and managers at the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph - and into the paper. The Tweet advertising this vapid column is still, as I type, extant on the Telegraph Twitter feed.
Small wonder there has been severely adverse comment passed on Ms Pearson’s latest bucket load of vomited viciousness, with “I remember when the Telegraph was considered a serious newspaper. Allison Pearson has been caught out recently, yet her failure is rewarded with more print space. Many fight hard to address the superficial and harmful appearance obsessed age - and yet we have this” typical. And there was more.
“A female journalist writing about female politician in such a derogatory way is pretty disgraceful. Criticise politicians for their policies, statements and actions. Attacking the way they look is low. Play the ball, not the man, Allison Pearson. This isn't the playground … God knows I have little time for Long-Bailey but this article by Pearson, describing her as looking like ‘the love child of the Roswell alien and Mrs Merton’ is uncalled-for. Criticise her opinions not her looks”. The latter quote was one of many not supporting RLB.
Labour MPs were also quick to condemn Ms Pearson, with Rosena Allin-Khan, who you can call as she’s a doctor, responding “This is vile. This Labour leadership race must remain positive and respectful - candidates must not be dragged through the mud by people trying to divide us. Personal attacks have no place”. Leadership front runner Keir Starmer simply added “This type of nasty, personal attack has no place in our politics”.
Allison Pearson is a disgrace to what remains of her profession. Which you knew anyway.
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