Tuesday 17 December 2019

My advice to the media on how to handle the Labour leadership election

1. You choose the next leader of the Labour Party, so make sure that you set the agenda for who will or won't succeed. This means that you must do the interpretation of the election results. On no account leave it to rank and file Labour people to work things out and express them on air or in your papers, and don't leave it to Labour-supporting research groups. They're biased. You're not. 

2. You must start to favour one or two of the candidates. You can do this by interviewing these more often and in a particular kind of way,  challenging but essentially friendly. With the people you don't favour,   you must be challenging but remember to interrupt them more, show some contempt on your face or voice and keep saying 'But this failed last time' as if 'what failed last time' is a certainty. 

3. Make sure to bring into the studios or into your papers many, many people who have never had any interest whatsoever in voting or supporting Labour. Give them plenty of time to talk about what Labour should do. Encourage them to keep repeating that word 'should' or similar words like 'needs to', 'has to', 'must'. This helps drive the idea that the media choose the leader not the members. 

4.  You must keep going with vox pops. Keep on going to windswept, wet places and repeating the phrase, 'If Labour are to win, they must win here.' Then interview someone and give them time to say that every single thing about the cut in their standard of living over the last ten years was caused by the EU and immigrants.  On no account create a situation in which any of these ideas might be challenged. You have become at this moment the channel by which these ideas circulate unchallenged. If anyone points this out to you, get really furious and say that it's an attack on free speech. 

Ask the Labour leadership candidate several times, 'But what are you going to say to that person we just heard say that it's the fault of the EU and immigrants?'  The candidate will probably struggle because there is no immediate answer. This set of ideas has been cooking for decades, with false notions  (and lies) to do with what migrants actually do in the UK, the work they do, the tax they pay and so on. Remember again, it's never your job to challenge this, always repeat it under the guise that you are 'voicing people's concerns'. Always make it Labour's 'problem' and not the Tories' problem for having allowed, encouraged and fed these views. 

5. Leave your viewers and listeners with the impression that the whole Labour project is over, anyway.  There are now only two or three versions of Toryism left on the table.