Today has brought the first of several hustings events featuring those wanting to become the next leader of the Labour Party. This was held in Liverpool, and Rebecca Long Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer were lightly grilled by the audience on their suitability to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.
The Independent’s reading of the event was “Candidates clash in Liverpool hustings as Keir Starmer takes early poll lead”, except that Starmer’s poll lead was not from the hustings, but “a new YouGov poll of Labour members”. Ms Thornberry, meanwhile, homed in on our alleged Prime Minister: “Boris Johnson has all sorts of problems with women. And he is going to have an even bigger one if I become leader of the Labour Party”.
Someone won't be happy
Becky Long Bailey was strong on the A-Word: “I think for me we had some fantastic policies, I know because I helped write some of them, and really the message didn't resonate with our voters. And what we should have been talking about is aspiration … We didn't match that with a message of aspiration. We want an economy where everyone does well”. Jess Phillips, meanwhile, thought the party was not being listened to.
“We've got to start talking to people's hearts and speaking in a message that people receive, because that's what Boris Johnson does”. On allegations of ant-Semitism, Lisa Nandy warned “We cannot go out and claim to be creating a more equal, fairer and more compassionate society unless we get our own house in order”. Dawn Butler won applause for pointing out that she served under two Labour PMs and did not take part in any coups.
But what is really going to wind up the right-wing press is Keir Starmer’s attitude to the Murdoch mafiosi. It was certainly noticed by Ash Sarkar: “Exceptionally strong answer from Keir Starmer on media bias and a vow never to give an interview to The Sun”. What, never? Andrew Fisher caveated that one. “On media hostility to Labour … ‘I certainly won't be giving any interviews to the Sun during this contest’ - Keir Starmer”.
Dan Bloom of the Mirror concurred. “Keir Starmer: ‘I certainly won’t be giving any interviews to The Sun during the course of this campaign.’” ITV’s Daniel Hewitt agreed. “In a question of ‘media bias’ says he won’t be giving an interview to The Sun newspaper during the leadership campaign”. Max Clements of the Echo observed “Keir Starmer gets a huge applause for pledging not to give any interviews to the Sun during the campaign”.
Well, he was in Liverpool. But the audience was drawn from across the North West. And hostility to the rabid behaviour of our free and fearless press was not confined to Starmer: Ms Thornberry reminded those present “The Daily Mail have been employing people full time trying to cut me off at knees. I’ve had a whole van load of Sun journalists turn up at my house at one stage. I’m afraid I have a boring life, there’s nothing else they can do”.
Even if he did agree to talk to the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, Starmer would get little but abuse from them, as Zelo Street observed recently. Giving the Murdoch goons a slap, and in Liverpool too, will go down a storm. It will probably do his chances of securing enough support to win the leadership no harm, either.
And it sends the message everyone needs to hear: Don’t Buy The Sun.
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