Friday, 29 May 2015

Should Labour take heed of the right wing press?

‘Liz Kendall…the Labour leadership candidate with the ‘mo’’ is the seemingly unlikely headline I tweeted out earlier today from The Telegraph website.
The article which talks up Ms Kendall’s potential as a candidate with serious leadership credentials is just one of a string being published by commentators in what traditionally has been called in Labour circles the ‘right wing media’.
Last week The Sunday Times ran a glowing profile of Liz not just opining about her willingness to take Labour out of its comfort zone and telling tale of her ferocious competitiveness in her local pub quiz, perhaps creating an image of how she may take on vested interests as leader?
Even The Spectator’s Isabel Hardman has weighed in writing that Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, Ms Kendall’s leadership rivals, have a ‘hard act to follow’ after her infamous lunch with members of the Westminster media village.
But all of these plaudits should make us ask a more serious point suggested to me this morning by a Twitter follower which is this:
Liz Kendall has ‘clearly got the support of the Tory press. Trouble is I’m not sure they have best interests of Labour at heart’.
So should we take note of what those right wing establishment figures say is best for Labour? Should we expect anything other than them to have our worst interests at heart?
My answer is unequivocal. Of course we should listen.
With one or two exceptions the Tory press doesn’t hate Labour.
Yes, they may see us as a joke. Yes, they will often ridicule our political correctness. Yes, they see us as a party who can’t manage the economy. But hate us? No.
The right wing press are much much more interested in strong nation which improves the lives of their readers and their owners. They are first and foremost interest in making sure their companies are profitable. Who can blame them? Isn’t that what all entrepreneurs want?
We need to be clear ‘the right wing press’ have no inherent obligation to support the Conservatives. They will support the party that offers the best choice for their proprietors and just as importantly their subscribers.
The media are not lifetime supporters of one party or another. When the offer is right they will support Labour, but not until. They did in 1997 and 2001, didn’t they?
The difficulty is we have just spent 5 years castigating them. We all saw Ed taking on the power of Rupert Murdoch, didn’t we?
I don’t recall Ed being quite as forceful with Mirror Group though when they became involved in phone hacking. Maybe my mind is playing tricks?
The generation of Labour leadership that has just passed spent no time trying to work with whole sections of the media, why would we expect them to be friendly to us?
Ultimately, especially at this time in the election cycle, we should be listening to the views of The Times, The Telegraph, even the The Daily Mail for one reason. Their readers can and will, if the offer is right, vote for us.
It certainly doesn’t benefit the establishment media to have a weak Labour party because they want the option of a choice.
It’s clear that their mind is already made up about Mr Burnham and probably Yvette Cooper.It is persuasive however, if nothing else, that they are willing to show an interest in Liz.
I have said before that I am decidedly undecided whether I want to see any of the current slate of candidates as leader, ultimately I want to see our party in power and I simply don’t know if any of the declared runners can achieve that.
I keep hearing that only 24% of the population elected the Tories but I have news that 24% are politically active and a lot more of them voted for them than voted for us. We would be mad to ignore the media they read and the opinion formers who influence them.


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