It is a given that the majority of the Press has a right-wing bias and that it defends the Establishment. Insidiously, though, this has worsened under the current ultra-reactionary government such that the spin peddled by the latter has become the orthodox, even for the supposedly neutral BBC (but look at the inclinations of their leading political journalists).
This situation leaves Labour yet more isolated from the means to promote its legitimate messages. It is remarkable though rarely remarked that Labour has sustained a poll lead for so long against such a background. So, other than those critical friends, the Guardian and Mirror, what recourse does the Left have to reach out to the public?
First, even the hostile organs must afford some coverage to Labour, albeit in a cynical or fault-finding mode. Currently this mainly presents EdM etc as dull, incompetently managerial, except when, on occasion, they let go; when they step away from their controllers and show real passion. No media could have ignored the passionate oratory of Lloyd George or Bevan; nor the demagogic brilliance of Heseltine, Crow or Kinnoch. Nor today do they do so for Brand, Johnson or Farage. Telling it like it is is news, so Ed and Co need to let themselves show their true feelings. Staying in the Party aparatchiks’ corset can only play into the hands of enemies.
Social media offer much more to Labour’s demographic than to the aged Right. Tory Central Office may spend like water on Facebook ads but these are manifestly artificial and unlike the genuine chatter of friends and followed. Twitter and Facebook have no editors to constrain their content. Labour-minded tweeters need proudly to shout their allegiance beyond their partisan followers and share as widely as possible the values and truth of its policies as a demotic medium.
Thirdly, Labour must move onto more differentiated ground, away from the petty comparisons so beloved of their critics. Simple, bold messages highlighting Labour’s raison d’etre in today’s world may attract brickbats but will also be attention-grabbing – and vote catching. And if this means upsetting Big Business, bankers and hedge funds, this can only mean we are on the right track.
Tom Serpell, LCC Committee Member
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Labour: Coast & Country.