Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Labour made some strategic wins in 2011

In the political sections of the press it's wall-to-wall articles and editorials about how Ed Miliband needs to be toppled from the Labour leadership. Newsnight even headlined a "Should Ed go" feature on the night before the Feltham and Heston by-election. Luckily the voters ignored them and returned a Labour MP with a bigger majority and a healthy share of the vote.

Why all the wall-to-wall shrillness from the press? It's simple; none of them backed Ed Miliband for the Labour leadership, and they are terrified of the prospect of a potential Prime Minister who owes them nothing. What happened to the NOTW only serves to reinforce this terror. Ed Miliband was free to go on the attack precisely because he owed them nothing - and it's something his brother would not have been able to pull off.

Most newspapers are not profitable (with the notable exception of the Daily Mail). Instead they are vanity projects for their owners - the Barclays and Desmonds and Murdochs of this world take losses on various print titles but believe this is an "investment" because they get to influence the government of the day, which in turn has a beneficial effect on their other non-press business interests. If they lose influence, then what's the point of pouring all this money down a black hole?

So their agenda is always to try to ensure that all the main parties owe them something.

When the Tories in the heady excitement of their very first one-member-one-vote election in three centuries chose IDS, Fleet Street was horrified. He was not their man and they despatched him in the usual way - they made up a false smear against his wife, got some useful idiots in the Conservatives to get worked up about it, and forced him out. His replacement Michael Howard did no better than IDS in the 2005 election, so the Conservatives gained nothing from dethroning an elected leader - but Fleet Street was delighted - Howard owed them allegiance, and that was all that counted.

Labour should remember that when the press starts shrieking about EdM. The press cares even less about us than it does about the Tories.

Time is on our side, the power of the press is waning. The lack of influence of the Newsnight broadcast just before the Feltham and Heston by-election is one indicator. The 2010 general election is another indicator: the entire right-wing press backed Cameron, and the Guardian and Independent backed the LibDems - and yet the Tories failed to win the general election, and the LibDems couldn't even match Charlie Kennedy's tipsy 2005 performance and lost seats.

The press are screaming into the wind with ever greater force - but the voters are not listening to them. Indeed the only part of the electorate that is paying attention are the elderly, and that's mainly because they have time on their hands and try to fill it watching the news channels and reading newspapers. And for the moment that's where the Tory support comes from.

The Labour party should take the demise of the NOTW as a massive strategic victory this year. A big part of the 4 million NOTW readers have not shifted to the other papers - they simply stopped reading a Sunday paper and have gone shopping or to a footie match instead. That's several million people not getting their minds poisoned on Sundays then.

Going into 2012, capitalism is our friend in this instance. Businesses are being very careful about their budgets and scatter gun advertising in the print media yields a much lower return on investment than targeted advertising on the search engines for terms like "pyjamas" or "watches" or whatever it is you are selling. So the advertising revenue streams of the newspapers will be under even more intense pressure, and at some point their owners will need to decide whether it is really worth keeping them going. With any luck we should see another paper bite the dust (no need to mourn the loss, journalists are on the record about what a paradise life on benefits is and how they long to appreciate it's charms).

When happens when the shrill make-stuff-up mafia print press shrivels? Well broadcast press is regulated, and the newspapers who ply an honest trade and don't make their stories up have a small readership, so politics then shifts to the ground war, old-fashioned door knocking, leafleting and talking to people face to face. And Labour is good at the ground war. The Tories like to talk a lot about work but they don't actually like doing it. Their local associations are amongst the laziest in the western world. Going into 2012 this should help us - we will continue to win where it matters in local and by-elections - at the ballot box.


DevonChap said...

Your strategic 'wins' appear to be a singular one, the closing of the News of the Screws. And that is not down to the Guardian breaking the Milly Dowler story, no it only closed because Ed Milliand was cross about it. What a strange parrallel world you live in. One in which a Newsnight item might alter the outcome of a by-election where 25% of the votes had been cast in advance and Newnight's viewing figures in the constituency would be a couple of thousand tops. Look beyond your tiny party political world. 95% of the population don't care about it and aren't listening, all they still know of Ed Milliand is same as they knew of him 12 months ago; he shafted his brother to get the job.

So when News International opens the 'Sunday Sun' and the NotW is replaced, what then of your strategic wins?

Anonymous said...

Excellent points!

The UK national media mostly follow the interests of foreign and Sark based billionaires for the obvious reasons.

I gather the Dully Maul's leadership is based abroad too.

It is past time these influences on British public opinion were in the control of Britons who live here and pay their tax here.

The conservative principle of Interest rules.

Anonymous said...

Come on Ed is well below par for a leader of anything right now two PMQs which he did better, then his long awaited speech went down like a lead balloon.

He has to get a grip tell the public why he should be leader otherwise he will be out not by his brother who would not win another leadership election if he tried.

He needs to tell us where labour is going what he thinks will be the benefits of voting labour, otherwise the public will not vote for him or the party