Friday, 13 June 2014

Ed Miliband and The Sun

The Labour Party is expending megabucks on the team of advisors surrounding Ed Miliband. How's that working out? Not too well, not too well at all. After the bacon sandwich debacle, having the Labour leader appear with The Sun just beggars belief. I suppose the only saving grace is that Dave 'n' Nick looked a right pair too. But to top it off, Ed Miliband's office have since apologised for the photo. What a sorry shambles. What a farce.

I don't get it. These people, your Wee Dougies, your Spencer Livermores, and the others who staff the leader's office, they're supposed to be the creme de la creme, the apprentices and heirs to Peter Mandelson's dark arts. And yet between them there is not one ounce of common sense, not a single speck of political understanding. Ed has responsibility for this pitiful state of affairs. He appointed them. I'm not in the habit of criticising for criticising's sake, but they all need to get a grip. And they can start by reading this straight after I've explained why posing with The Sun was such a dumb idea.

2015 for Labour has to be the (shudder) 'reconnection election', it's the only way we can maximise the one shot we've got. If we fail, if the Tories win next year, we can look forward to the double gerrymander of redrawn constituencies and individual voter registration. Therefore I can understand what our hapless spinner was thinking when s/he handed Ed a copy of the paper. The Sun might be declining, it is a horrible right wing rag that will doubtless stump for the Tories, but most Sun readers are Labour voters. We can't well have Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Doomed featured and Ed not. Just think of the fuss if he'd spurned the request for a photo opp! We definitely can't be seen as being "too good" for a paper read by millions of people.

Understandable, but it is unfortunate that 1997 still casts a long shadow. However, what was media management 101 then is a leadened albatross around our necks now. Times change, so media strategies should too. The dogma doesn't work. Our strategists have to learn to think. So here's why The Sun opp was wrongheaded.

1) It alienates core Labour support. It wasn't only Merseysiders who were less than impressed. The networked, urbany lefty-types and LibDem switchers are also appalled. Given the stand Ed has made against Murdoch, it looks desperate and nakedly opportunist to try and curry favour with his paper.

2) From the point of view of "The Sun's army of loyal readers", it looks just as dreadful. On the one hand, it's patronising. The unstated assumption is getting one's face in the rag will translate into votes. Never mind the fact Sun readers are every bit as complicated and individual as those who would look down on them. Far worse than that, however, is that it looks fake. As the paper's readers already prefer Labour to the Tories, that indicates they are more than capable of filtering out the bullshit. They know politicians don't read The Sun, and that Ed Miliband is the most unlikely of the three leaders to do so. In other words, all it does is remind readers of the disconnect between real life and the Westminster village. No one, no one will think that Ed Miliband geezer's "one of us" because of a photo splash. But they might think "bloody hell, he must be desperate if he thinks posing with The Sun will get him votes."

It's time Ed and his team got a grip. Ed isn't "normal". So deal with it and play to his existing strengths.


Unknown said...

A friend of mine in the LP has torn up her membership card - well, cancelled her subscription. It's not as if posties in some areas didn't decide not to touch this stunt, reminding some of us, if we needed reminding, what contempt there is for the Sun in some parts. It doesn't bode well.

Pinkie said...

"Ed isn't "normal"

What does that mean?

Playing to his strengths -great;

playing up to a supposed general view of his 'weirdness' - complete bollocks.

jimboo said...

"As the paper's readers already prefer Labour to the Tories, that indicates they are more than capable of filtering out the bullshit"

So true, but when you said Ed isn't normal I was looking for a Youtube link to my least favourite Stephen Lynch song, "Special Ed".

Phil said...

Pinkie, I put links in blogs pointing to previous posts for a reason. It's not about playing up to "weirdness", but rather Ed's not inconsiderable strengths. In case you missed it, see here.

asquith said...

Reading his statements,unviable/undesirable policy pledges, and that make me oppose him...

...and for the Scum, Hate Mail, etc. to call him "weird" and generally vilify him is actually endearing me to him. From Michael Foot's jacket to Neil Kinnock being ginger and Welsh to Gordon Brown and whatever he is supposed to have done wrong over those hand-written letters, it just makes me warm to people when they get monstered like this.

I know the sort of person on whom it would have the intended effect- I meet them all the time and keenly avoid them.

As a highly skilled politician (which does NOT mean he'd be a good prime minister- I don't think he would, even though he'll probably end up in charge) he should know better than to court the gutter press in this manner. I suspect he commits the besetting sin of caring too much about his image.

Well, I LIKE his image (and his intellectuallism, which the illiterates who "read" the Sun react to with instinctive fear and hatred) but dislike his substance. So a lot of own goals being scored by all concerned.

BigRab said...
Says it all!

Robert said...

New Labour - same old Tories