Archive for the 'Media' Category


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


Leave’s major advantage in the last three weeks of the campaign. The Tory press is on their side

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

The Sun Front Page

The Sun front page from last Friday, after another poor set of net immigration figures for Cameron

This referendum could boil down to Cameron v The Tory Press. If Cameron prevails, it could be good news for Corbyn.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this referendum campaign is a Tory PM and most of the Tory Press being on opposite sides. As Neil Kinnock and Ed Miliband can attest the press can very brutal. Whilst I don’t subscribe to the belief that it was solely The Sun wot won it at the 1992 general election, as a politician it is much more advantageous to have media on your side.

It seems we have been transported to DC comics’ Bizarro world, where everything is the opposite to what it should be, with the likes of The Mirror and The Guardian backing a Tory Prime Minister, whilst the likes of The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, and The Sun vehemently opposing the Prime Minister. Today sees the first debate/Q&A of the referendum, it isn’t difficult to see those newspapers taking a very anti-Cameron line tomorrow morning, as we can see with The Sun front page above, they can be very damaging to the Prime Minister.

There’s been a long term decline in the influence of the print media, in the last few weeks we’ve seen the closure of the print edition of The Independent, there’s been rumours, subsequently denied, that The Guardian would follow The Independent’s lead and turn into a purely online outfit, and this past week The Daily Mail’s parent company issued a profits warning,  “after reporting a 29% fall in profits, driven by a double-digit decline in print advertising, at its newspaper operation in the six months to the end of March.”

So if Remain do win despite the onslaught of the Tory press, this might be good news for Labour and Jeremy Corbyn. It isn’t the difficult to envisage the political waterboarding the Tory press will give Jeremy Corbyn at the 2020 general election, with the impact of the press diminished, Labour might have less to fear about 2020 and the chances of Corbyn becoming Prime Minister might be higher than some currently think.



David Herdson on tonight’s big European election

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

Who is on for douze points?

Hello and welcome once again to this European extravaganza; this celebration of all that is best and brightest about this continent; this joyous coming together of nations near and far. Oh all right, who am I kidding?

The big question of course is will Britain triumph for the first time since Terry Wogan was in short trousers – and I don’t mean the lederhosen he sported that time in … apparently I’m not allowed to tell that story. Poor Terry, sadly missed.

It is true that despite a lot of promise in recent years, Britain’s not had much success on the continent recently. Will this be the year to change all that or are we simply part of something which doesn’t suit our way of doing things, to which we’ll forever be outsiders?

Who can forget that after so many hopes were stored up last time, coming back home with a very measly return. I thought it was quite good actually but then what do I know? The problem is of course that you can’t vote for yourself and you have to put yourself in the hands of a lot of foreigners – and who’d want to do that? Having said that, there are one or two that I wouldn’t mind putting myself in the hands of but we won’t go there right now.

Returning to today’s offering, do we stand a chance of getting our way? Will we not be alone, for once or will we once again be dancing to a different beat? Going on past form, I can’t honestly be too optimistic but if there’s one thing that’s for sure, the boys flying the flag won’t be short of energy. And you never know. Some unkind people have described the offering put forward as ‘vapid bilge’. I think that’s unfair. Don’t you think that’s unfair? I think it’s unfair. Still, maybe it’s not quite a second Waterloo, if you know what I mean.

If I can be serious for a moment – don’t worry, it won’t last – I do wonder if we’ve missed how the whole thing’s changed over the last twenty years. It’s not just about the performance but it’s about the wider vision, and that’s not something we’ve done terribly well at. Maybe if we want to be more successful at this lark, we should look at what’s worked for other countries and adapt our own version of that. Just a thought.

Anyway, too late to change things for this year so just sit back and enjoy the show. And remember, if it feels like it’s been going on a long time already, just wait to see how you feel once the voting’s finished.

David Herdson, of sorts.

Eurovision takes place this evening. The EU referendum is on June 23.