Archive for the 'Media' Category


Brexit-backing Sun & Mail seen as having the most negative impact on society – remain supporting Times & Guardian the most positive

Monday, December 18th, 2017

New YouGov poll ranks the main national papers

I can’t recall any similar polling – looking at how the main national papers are perceived in terms of the impact they are having on society.

At a time when the nation is so divided by Brexit it is striking that the papers that have been most strident in their backing of Brexit and opposition to those who oppose it should be seen in the negative way set out in these numbers.

Full data from the poll can be found here.

Mike Smithson


New “media trust” polling finds the BBC top and the Sun bottom

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

I’m sure people will correct meif I’m wrong but I think this polling is a first. We see from time to time several different forms of “trust” polling but as far as I can recall these latest findings from Ipsos MORI covering broadcast, the press and the internet is new.

For those who follow politics closely the close relationship between media and politicians is something that is raised all the time especially the way the former can have a huge impact on the what we term the “narrative”.

The question is set out in the chart above and as can be seen Twitter and Facebook fare badly which I find reassuring. The two popular red tops, the Star and the Sun are the least trusted.

As a former BBC newsman I’d expect the Corporation to be fairly reassured by this polling given the intensity with which it is attacked by left and right.

I find the approach to the BBC of many within the Corbyn clan an indictment of them and it was surely a disgrace that the BBC Political Editor had to be accompanied by a bodyguard at the Labour conference.

It’s interesting as well how Huffington Post is establishing itself.

Of the heavies, what used to be called the broadsheets, the Telegraph seems to, in comparative terms, fared worse.

We live in very polarised times which make things very challenging for all who are trying report what is going on in the world.

Mike Smithson


Maybe a reason why LAB gets poor media coverage is that the Corbyn-appointed PR team is not up to it

Friday, March 31st, 2017

It is as if the red team has given up

I have never been a fan of Seumas Milne, the PR chief of Corbyn’s Labour, not because of his politics but that he is so poor at the job.

The series of Tweets highlighted by Sam Coates of the Times above is something that the whole LAB leadership should worry about – they are after all the OFFICIAL opposition with all the associated perks that go with it.

Until this is sorted out let’s hear no complaints from Corbyn cultists about the way their man is treated. Mr. Milne was the leader’s appointment.

I’m not hopeful of change.

Mike Smithson


Remember when the BBC’s Woman’s Hour asked David Cameron and David Davis what sort of underpants they preferred?

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

With all the fuss today about the Daily Mail’s “legs” front page let us not forget that the BBC can sometimes stray into what could be described as sexist.

In November 2005 when David Cameron and David Davis were slugging it out for the Tory leadership the two of them appeared on Woman’s Hour and were asked at the end what sort of underpants they preferred.

Another question was whether they preferred blondes or brunettes. David said the former while Cameron did not reply.

The interviewer was Martha Martha Kearney, now of the World at One, who was quizzing people about the Mail’s front page at lunchtime today.

There’s a link to the 2005 interview here

Mike Smithson


The Sun re-does its classic front page on the day of the 1992 general election

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

This was from election day in April 1992

Tomorrow’s front page


In the week the Article 50 case is heard before the Supreme Court, the public has more than three times the trust in judges than journalists

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Ipsos Mori have published their annual veracity index, with the Article 50 case being heard in the UK’s highest appellate court, it was amusing to contrast the trust in the enemies of the people judges compared to journalists.

Only Government ministers, and politicians in general are less trusted than journalists, whilst Estate Agents and Bankers have better trust ratings than journalists. This might explain why Nigel Farage’s planned 100,000 march on the Supreme Court turned out to be, as we say in Yorkshire, all fart and no follow through.

The fieldwork ended just before the High Court ruled against the Government in the Article 50 case, but a substantial part of the fieldwork was carried out whilst the High Court was hearing the case, but before headlines that described the judiciary as the enemies of the people.




Memo to Seamus Milne: Your boss, Mr. Corbyn, needs to have a ready answer in situations like this

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

The LAB media operation MUST become better


Corbyn found his voice on Thursday. Unfortunately, it was echoed by his supporters

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

One of the most remarkable aspects of Corbyn’s Labour is its attitude to the media

Alistair Campbell would be turning in his grave were it not for the fact that he’s not dead. Not only did the Labour supporters booing the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg at Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on Thursday drive the wedge between party and media that bit further but it distracted from the main purpose of the event, which was for the Labour leader to add his weight to the Remain camp.

However, both the speech and the booing were very telling – and very related. In them, they gave us an extremely clear sign about how both leadership and party organisation view the practitioners, observers and reporters of politics.

That Corbyn added his voice to the Remain campaign is far less relevant than how he did it. All the evidence suggests that he’s generally agnostic on the issue and that his position on Europe is more about party management than anything else. With most Labour MPs and unions strongly supportive, why pick a fight you’re not bothered about?

In fact, his speech was only nominally about Europe at all. Rather than make a speech about Europe cloaked in left-wing language, he really made a speech about left-wing ideals and policy cloaked in the language of the EU referendum.

That re-emphasises his reasons for being unwilling to share a platform with Cameron, Osborne and co: not only would their presence taint him by association but it would mean that he couldn’t fight his chosen battle on his chosen ground.

The contrast with Sadiq Khan is marked. True, Khan doesn’t have Corbyn’s ambivalence towards the EU. He also has a very different electorate from which he draws his mandate. But neither of those factors forced him to share a stage with the prime minister (though there is something of an irony that Labour’s current leaders, who were happy to be in the company of IRA apologists, now criticise Khan for appearing alongside the very people who only a few weeks ago were denouncing the mayor for the people he once associated with). Presumably, both men thought that they and their cause had more to gain from co-operation than independent action.

And therein lies a crucial distinction between the likes of Cameron and Khan on one side, and Corbyn on the other. Centrists are by definition compromisers and pragmatists; people willing to trade quid pro quos to get the best deal they can. Their politics is about winning and good management first, and then, within the boundaries those priorities make possible, tilting systems towards the person’s favoured ideology.

By contrast, the outer wings of either party are happy to define themselves by their refusal to compromise. Indeed, centrists on their own side are often even more reviled than those on the opposing one, with accusations of fraternisation, selling out and treachery. When Corbyn barely acknowledged Cameron as they walked through Westminster on their way to hear the Queen’s Speech, it encapsulated his visceral reaction against working or even socialising with those outside his ideological confort zone.

That same refusal to compromise also reinforces their and their ideology’s righteousness (though it can also easily tend to produce splits over arcane, meaningless points that the rest of the world would regard as of no great importance). It is but a small step from there to the belief that those who question that ideology must be either enemies or deluded; hence the treatment of Kuenssberg, and Corbyn’s reaction to it. We didn’t need the fly-on-the-wall documentary to know that the attitude is driven from the top. He might have shushed those booing but not straight away and not with any comment that implied the workers’ reaction was wrong rather than too extended.

All of which is a good pointer to 2020: there will only be True Believers and The Rest, in the media as much as in parliament or the wider Labour movement (hence the repeated denunciation of opponents as ‘Red Tories’ or whatever colour of Tory fits the local bill). Kuenssberg is herself presumably now a ‘Tory Journo’. It’s a complete contrast with Blair and Campbell and their strategy of assert and engage. While Campbell might have bullied, he didn’t do it in public and it was from a position of strength – meaning it worked and wasn’t seen; the perfect combination for public consumption.

By contrast, we have to conclude that Labour’s current media strategy – to the extent that one exists at all – is to treat the media like the weather: as an external factor that is frequently unpleasant but which is beyond influence; as such, the likeminded can only console themselves by complaining about it to each other. It’s not likely to be a winning strategy but then winning isn’t the point, not if it comes at the price of impurity.

David Herdson