Media and the movement: Facing these attacks together….

So, the last 24 hours have seen the predictable diatribe unleashed against both Labour’s new leader and the labour movement as a whole. One of the disheartening things about this campaigns was the viciousness with which the unions were attacked not just by the press but by some Labour Party members and now that has redoubled. An injury to one is an injury to all and that is a basic principle of the solidarity that should be the watchword for party and movement. This doesn’t mean we always have to agree or that anybody has to suspend critical thinking but it does mean that repeating the media mogul myths in an unthinking, red-baiting and union bashing way simply isn’t on.

Let’s be frank; the press should always be treated with caution by the labour movement. Even supposedly neutral institutions like the BBC display worrying signs of inherent bias, at the very least towards protecting their own interests. In the case of the BBC, since the government holds the purse strings in the form of the licence fee, this often has much the same end result as with a commercial station that ultimately cannot afford to ignore the interests of the monied. Trade unions know they cannot expect fair and balanced coverage for their side of an industrial dispute, for example, unless they fight every inch for it. Labour should rediscover some of its healthy skepticism when it comes to dealing with the media and assume at the very least it will face passive-aggressive hostility virtually as a given.

If our economic narrative changes along the lines beginning to be outlined by Ed Balls this will get even worse and every commentator under the sun will be wheeled out to make us look ‘loony’ and ‘lacking in credibility’. We will have to struggle and scrap to get our message out and the days of spin will be gone to be replaced by days of hard-slog; perception is nine-tenths of politics and this could present problems. However,  if we resolve that we will use the tools we have to get our message over the heads of the established media in many cases then a problem could become an opportunity to reconnect. New media has a particular role to play in this process and although it will never be a replacement for existing channels (at least not yet) it could well be a productive avenue in getting our message across and reconnecting with lost Labour voters as well as winning new adherents to our traditional values.

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About darrellgoodliffe

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3 responses to “Media and the movement: Facing these attacks together….”

  1. mommsen says :

    Darrell,

    Just in case that there should be a more union-friendly policy of your own political party, you’ve predicted that “…every commentator under the sun will be wheeled out to make us look ‘loony’ and ‘lacking in credibility’.”

    Unfortunately, this sort of wheelchair journalism does not only exist in Britain.

    In Germany all mainstream journalists support the same economic policy, i.e. an economic policy which has made Germany become the country where the pace with which the gap between the rich and the poor grows is greater than in any other Westerm industrial nation (according to OECD statistics).

    Will the current British government succeed in making sure that Britain replaces Germany as the country where the gap between the rich and the poor grows faster than anywhere else?

    Perhaps yes – perhaps no.

    So far no leading German Social Democrat has ever dared to criticise the economic reforms of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

    Now at least in Britain the Labour party’s new leader says that the days of NEW LABOUR were over. However, whether this is true remains to be seen. So far I still do not have any trust in Britain’s Labour politicians (nor do I trust the German Social Democrats).

    In Germany the policy of ever growing economic inequality began in 1998 when Mr Blair (then Britain’s Prime Minister) and Mr Schröder (then Germany’s Chancellor) launched their Blair-Schröder-Manifesto (“das Schröder-Blair-Papier” as it is called in Germany) which wasn’t only directed against the economic policy of France’s Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, but against all efforts to use the combined political power of Europe’s centre-left parties (which were in government in almost every EU member state then) to modify the neoliberal policies which Europe’s centre-right parties endorsed.

    In those days Germany’s mainstream media was full of praise for Tony Blair’s NEW LABOUR. As if Germany’s newspaper articles were written in Downing Street, Germam journalists spoke steadily about “cool Britain”.

    How the world has changed since then!

    In Germany nobody talks about “cool Britain” these days.

    Today Germany’s and Britain’s taxpayers have to pay the price for the failed policies of Mr Blair and Mr Schröder. However, in the German mainstream media no journalist blames Blair and Schröder for those failures. They don’t do it because they don’t have to. They’ve still got America to blame. According to the Germany media, everything which went wrong in the banking industry was – of course – only America’s fault.

    What would German journalists do without their American scapegoat?
    Blaming the Jews again?

    Like

  2. darrellgoodliffe says :

    mommsen,

    I am saddened but not surprised to find this is the case. Hegmonically, its the dominant view; so dominant that even parties radically to the left of Labour feel in some ways obliged to make a nod in the direction of deficit reduction.

    Hopefully it wont but it is certainly going to give it a good go. I think over here there are a few who are at least questioning the orthodoxy but not in a radical way. We can but wait and hope; certainly in terms of the influence of figures closely associated with New Labour like Lord Mandelson that is definately the case but how deep and far that goes we will have to see.

    Indeed, its shameful that inequality grew on a Labour watch. Interesting that they are blaming America, because America is taking a different course in terms of large-scale investment. For once progressives can look at America with some envy.

    Lets hope not.

    Like

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