Do some at the Guardian have an agenda against Ed Miliband?

January 27, 2012 11:18 am

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Apparently the Guardian’s Patrick Wintour and Nick Watt – political editor and correspondent at the Guardian respectively – are “baffled” that anyone could think they have an agenda against Ed Miliband.

We know so because someone leaked it to Private Eye and it’s dutifully published in this week’s edition.

via Eoin Clarke.

But why are they baffled – I thought it was obvious, going by their recent history?

Late in December last year Nicholas Watt reported – Ed Miliband risks Tory trap on public spending, says shadow minister – based on a pamphlet by two Labour MPs. The mischaracterisation of the pamphlet was such that it led others to wrongly criticise it (including myself), and the authors to write a letter to the Guardian saying: “This is narrowly inaccurate as I did not say that. More widely, it mischaracterises our argument.”

You’d expect this from the Daily Mail, but the Guardian?

A few days later, Nicholas Watt struck again, reporting breathlessly – Ed Miliband leadership attacked by former Blair aide – who turned out to be a minor aide from the early years, now working for lobbying firm close to the Tories. What a shocker.

Then, Patrick Wintour jumped on Lord Glasman’s comments – Ed Miliband’s leadership attacked by Lord Glasman. That was a story, but most Labour watchers immediately saw that it was a bigger attack on Ed Balls than Ed Miliband himself. Patrick Wintour curiously missed that blaring sign.

Not long after, one of Gavin Kelly’s regular blogs for the New Statesman was hyped up into – Ed Miliband urged to start ‘bigger and blunter’ debate on public spending – even though the message was much more nuanced than that.

There are several other examples too where minor stories have been blown up into a prominent – ‘Ed Miliband attacked for not saying anything on deficit’ – articles at the Guardian.

Anyone else get the feeling there’s an agenda here? Just me? I’m not alone in having noticed this – even some of their colleagues at the Guardian have despaired of this barely hidden agenda to me, let alone others in Westminster.

But Wintour and Watts should rest easy – at least no one is asking for their heads. A few years back I was privy to a conversation by young, but influential Cameroons, who were discussing how to oust Simon Heffer from the Telegraph for his continual attacks on David Cameron.

  • Anonymous

    At least the Guardian doesn’t have to labour under the burden of John Rentoul. His embarrassing and long drawn out love affair with Tony Blair features nearly every day on his Independent blog, and Ed Miliband is often a target in his rancorous outpourings

  • Andy G

    You don’t have to Google anything to realise that some journalists at the Guardian don’t like Ed Miliband, you just have to read the articles.

    Don’t know about a conspiracy. Perhaps the Guardian is just more sympathetic to the Coaltion government than we’d like to think.

    The Guardian offices must be the last place in the UK where Nick Clegg’s promises are taken seriously.

  • Anonymous

    The problem is labour does give the Tory press the ammunition for this, from silly Blue , Purple, Black, Green slightly pink and Ed does not want to be red. Then you have Twitter, Abbott, then Miliband now Tom, next we have Mandleson you cannot  really blame these people well Mandy he’s going to make a living perhaps and an agony Aunt in the Daily Mail.

    Labour is an open book even for the Mirror who state Miliband crosses picket lines, Miliband does not back strike, Miliband agrees with Tories on cuts.

    Labour  and Miliband has to rein in his own party, the twitters  and who twitters so that nobody else can say ah yes it was a low down intern.

    Labour has to find a reason for being, it’s going to have to tell the voters this is what Labour stands for, this is where we are going and get on with it.  If it’s a return to New labour so be it , this does not mean giving out policies but a direction, at the moment nobody has a reason for voting or for getting on Labours band wagon.

    And for god sake stop employing obvious turn coats, people who are out to make a living off the tails of Labour, people like Bozier who I suspect believes he won the 1997 election by  just being around the leader.

    And stop calling people who are losing jobs or  have cancer or are paraplegic they are work shy scroungers, when your own ex leader himself is  not working but  getting paid to sit at home.

    Get something the public can get it’s teeth into the sell off of the NHS, unless of course you agree with them, if you do then it’s time you stepped down. The NHS has to  be kept in the Public realm otherwise what is labour for.

    Become a real labour party, not this soft copy of the Liberals

    labour has to have a reason for being if you have kicked the poor into touch and you believe your now a middle of the road Tory party then my god  make a battle of it, do something,

    • Anonymous

      “Become a real labour party, not this soft copy of the Liberals”
       
      They are not though – in all honesty they are more akin with the Conservatives now, which is their big problem – when you have fools like Liam Byrne agreeing with the government, and his predecessor Purnell giving the Tories Freud, and policies which are more or less identical, I can’t see how they can credibly claim to have real alternative policies

      • Anonymous

        I of course meant Tory, I must be getting soft.

        • happy.fish

          The tories are economic liberals so you aren’t going that soft.

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t The Guardian support the Lib Dems at the last Election?  I believe they did.  The Guardian shouldn’t be a servile mouthpiece for the Labour Party; they should be critical of the leadership, both in a positive and negative way.
    The Guardian are a left leaning paper but haven’t always seen eye to eye with the Labour Party; they weren’t too fond of Tony Blair, the Iraq war, and they aren’t the biggest fans of unions, so this should not come as any surprise.
    I’ve listened to Nick Watts on various shows and, to be honest, he doesn’t seem very positive about the Labour Party; he does seem more sympathetic to the Coalition, and Nick Clegg in general.

    • http://twitter.com/Mr_Eugenides Mr Eugenides

      Correct, Cassandra. In fact, given that Sunny also supported the Lib Dems at the last Election but now, arguably, operates precisely as “a servile mouthpiece” for the Ed Miliband camp, you could well argue that they are performing their duties rather more assiduously than the author of this post.

    • Mike Murray

      The Guardian has never been a servile mouthpiece of the Labour Party but at General Elections it has always been a servile mouthpiece of the Tories and their Lib Dem stooges. CF its vendetta against Gordon Brown in 2010.  The Guardian has always been a paradigm of liberal Democrat strategy: face both ways until it no longer becomes practical to do so.

      • Anonymous

        Supporting the Conservatives??? I’ve never seen that.  I’ve seen countless stories in The Guardian trying to undermine Michael Gove and his educational reforms.  They are more of an opposition on that policy than the Labour Party are, perhaps, it is because they are more consistent in their line of attack. 
        It is true that they have been a bit negative towards Labour, but not immeasurably so; the Conservatives are still their main target.
        Perhaps, the Guardian prefer Coalitions to majority Governments.

        • Mike Murray

          “Perhaps,  the Guardian prefer Coalitions to majority governments.”

          I think that’s a fair point. The Guardian certainly supported the SDP/Liberal Alliance in the eighties.  But the paper’s support vacillates too much between Labour and Lib Dem support to be considered a true friend of Labour.It was downright hostile to Labour in 2010.  In the 1950s the Guardian actually supported the Tories and the Liberals. Which is why I suggest that it is a paradigm for Liberal Democrat policy which is to speak to any brief, jettison all principles when it is politically expedient and seek a symbiotic relationship with one of the two main parties in order to stretcher it  into power when it fails to get past the winning post.  At the present the Guardian supports the coalition and therefore,by implication,  the Tories. At the next election if there was a hung parliament and we were the largest party the Liberal Democrats would be hammering on Labour’s door offering to stretcher us into power urged on no doubt by the Guardian. See what I mean? No principles. The Guardian’s contributors give the impression that they are left but essentially the paper isn’t. I’d rather read the Daily Mirror.

          For a pictogram which shows the nature of the main newspapers’ support for political parties over the years go to http:www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/may/o4/general-election-newspaper-support

          • Anonymous

            Thanks for referring me to the chart.  It makes for interesting reading.  Perhaps, the writer of this piece should have had a look at it before he wrote his piece.
            You are right, of course, in stating that the Guardian has supported the Conservatives in the past, but not for well over two decades (according to the pictogram) and they have supported Labour quite consistently since then.  It is true that they have supported the Lib Dems throughout quite consistently, (I thought it only occurred during the 21st Century) but still have supported Labour, as you stated.
            What do you consider to be Left wing?  Don’t you consider the Lib Dems to be a left of centre party.
            I understand what you mean by having no principles, but that is the only way that the third party of their size can be elected.  Both the Conservatives and Labour were disposing their policies, so that they could get into power as well.
            Does that mean that they have no principles too?

          • Mike Murray

            “What do you consider to be left wing?’
            That would require a very long response. For brevity I’ll say anything that’s not the Tories, the Liberal Democrats or New Labour. I suppose it is really represented by Clement Atlee and the Labour MPs in the  1945 intake.

            “Don’t you consider the Lib Dems to be a left of centre party?”

            Absolutely not. They are the Janus party. In the south they represent themselves as Tories: in the north as Socialists, constantly adjusting their ideology to accommodate to different geographical locations and conditions for political advantage. That is very different to the other parties which, although they  may abandon one or two policies when in power, they certainly don’t alter their whole ideology. That’s why so many students were utterly duped by the Lib Dems and once the Lib Dems  were able to grab power they became more Tory than the Tories. And it was the Guardian that encouraged all those students to vote for them.

        • happy.fish

          Of course its antigove (missed out the hyphen but I like the sound of it, feels like a character out of a greek tradegy) I’ll wager a significant proportion of its readership are teachers or education professionals, hence also its tendency to lean towards the lib dems.

  • http://twitter.com/joshfg Joshua Fenton-Glynn

    It’s interesting that there sometimes seems to be a mood of embarressment from political editors who confidently predicted that David would win to their Editors to be made to look silly, then predicted Ed would be a disaster, then ignored te evidence of his consistent poll leads and undermined him until their profecy fulfiled it’s self, I did predict this in the days after his election http://labourlist.org/2010/09/the-media-needs-to-listen-to-what-ed-miliband-has-to-say/

    • Anonymous

      Kinnock the Polls show we have a massive lead, the people I speak to say it’s time for change, I have a feeling we will win, go home and get ready to Govern, ah nope go home and carry on  being in opposition.

      Polls may  give you a feeling of how that two or three thousand people feel, sadly that’s not 60 Million, as labour found under under Kinnock.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for publishing this. As the author of the original piece on Wintour & Watt  - and the subject of the Private Eye ‘attack’ I am heartened that others see the pattern that I saw. 

  • Simon Landau

    One of the (minor) mysteries of the Guardian and Observer is who was involved in the decision to come out and support the Lib-Dems at the 2010 election. Clearly Rusbridger, but who else ?  We know that 80% of Guardian journos were against the decision.  From that point on it has been entertaining to detect who in the Guardian are in denial.  Wintour & Watt certainly, Mike White ?  Who else ?

    • John Ruddy

      I believe Julian Glover was also heavily involved. A leader writer for the Guardian at the time, he has since moved on to become David Cameron’s insult – sorry speech – writer.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1369047172 David Clayton

        Glover was amazing. Right wing and a rubbish writer yet somehow wielded influence. The laughably named Guardian Comment is Free removed all comments criticising him. That papaer is a sad and largely irerelevant shadow of itself. However that dooes not mean the Labour leadership do not have tio improve ag reat deal…. and rapidly.

  • Anonymous

    Here is my original piece that Private Eye objected to so strongly - http://goo.gl/ClZ44

  • Janiete

    I’m so relieved the dishonesty in the Guardian is at last being exposed. For many years we have read articles berating the Labour Government for being essentially too right wing. Little did we know that the Guardian would officially back a party willing to prop up a Tory Government in the election and consistently since.

    Anyone who read Nick Watt’s online piece, reporting Jim Murphy’s comments on defence spending, and who confined themselves to reading only his words (seperately shown and directly quoted) would not have viewed the comments as undermining Ed Miliband or established Labour Policy. Those who read the whole article or just the headline, or the subsequent print version gained a very different impression, hence the fallout within Labour ranks and days of negative media headlines. 

    In all quality papers I expect to see opinion pieces dedicated to one view or another. The problem arises when what should be news or factual pieces are used by journalists or editors to peddle a political viewpoint. The Guardian is very prone to this kind of ‘persuasive’ reporting and  unfortunately the same behaviour is prevalent elsewhere including in the broadcast media.

    The lack of fact and accurate detail reaching the public is becoming a very serious issue for our democracy. Journalists want to skip the reporting of detail and jump straight to comment and opinion. The right wing dominates our press and is getting a firmer grip on broadcast media as well. Demanding fact, detail and accuracy is our only defence from media manipulation. Recent reporting of the benefit cap highlights this very well.  

  • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

    I gave up with the Guardian when it supported the Iraq war. But there’s a lesson to be had from dependence on the press – just think Murdoch.

    But the good news is that because of the decline of print media, with the internet, there’s no reason why Labour shouldn’t get their act together and deliver a pro-Labour news site of professional quality – just as long as the muddled triangulators don’t stick their oar in and render it incomprehensible.

    • Pat

      The Guardian did not support the Iraq War. It’s sister paper, the Observer, did. As for the influence of the internet, the Guardian has made more of its online services, to the detriment of the print edition, than any other UK paper. I have given up on the Guardian because of its arrow London-centric focus (couples with a ridiculous amount of US coverage to get US web readers), and its increasing reliance on a bunch of columnists and reporters well past their sell-by date like Michael White and Simon Hoggart. They have some great columnists like Seaumas Milne and John Harris, but little else going for them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1369047172 David Clayton

    Sod the Guardian. It is nose diving to oblivion in its desperate lurch to the right. More concerning is the Labour leadership’s inability to articulate a coherent opposition to this vile government. For or against the cuts? Who knows. Supports the victims of the cuts? Probably not. Just a watered down version of Cameron etal? Looks like it to me and i am a party member.Opposition is found in the Scottish Nationalists, the Lib Dems and even the ranks of the tory party more than it is to be seen in this spineless lacklustre shadow cabinet.
    And yes the BBC and most other media outlets say little positive about the Labour opposition, but whose fault is that? Who is setting the agenda? Who is coming out with ideas? Who is grabbing attention? Not Milliband et al. If he says “squeezed middle” or “hard working families” one more time I will scream. How far down in teh polls do we need to go before something changes? Or will we find someone else to balme at that point?

    • Anonymous

      “If he says “squeezed middle” or “hard working families” one more time I will scream”
       
      I must admit when he keeps going on about the “squeezed middle” it reminds you of a portly woman complaining her corsets are too tight!

      • happy.fish

        How about hard squeezed families working on their middle?

  • Anonymous

    Hilarious to see Labourlist commenters moaning about the Guardian’s unfair coverage of Ed.

    From the archives:  December 2011, Labourlist : “40% of LabourList readers rate Ed Poor or Very Poor”

    Apart from the usual handful names on here (and it really is no more than a handful), everyone knows the game is up for Ed ” Chocolate Orange” Miliband.

  • JC

    Great. Don’t like the message – shoot the messenger! I mean, there’s no way we can possibly be wrong is there?

  • Stockport Red

    Totally agree about the Guardian anti Milliband stance. Their Pollsters ICM consistently over estimates Lib Dem support and under estimate Labour support due to a flawed methodology. They allocate 50% of dont knows to the Party they supported at the last GE, that can’t work for the Libs most people in the north of the UK voted Lib Dem to keep the Tories out. The Libs are a dead duck in the North as anyone who has been out knocking on doors will tell you. Yet when the last ICM poll gave the Tories a lead( one of only 2 in the last 10 polls) the Guardian ran an editorial on it! When was the last time a serious newspaper ran an editorial on the back of one opinion poll?
    Stop buying the rag!

  • Anonymous

    I personally am a regular reader of the Guardian, and didn’t notice this particularly;
    although following Ed M’s winning the leadership contest, and during certain phases,
    such as the recent Xmas break- much of the media seemed to come out at the same time,
    especially a few individual journalists.

    I actually find it refreshing to read balanced and fair coverage from P.Toynbee,
    J.Ashley, and M.Riddell,(in T’graph- suprisingly;) but the above example
    from PE is typically biased in my view, as we’ve seen so often.

    All that hype about a blip in the polls following DC’s visit to Europe,
    and Ed’s slip of the keyboard looked more like a manufactured media storm
    all things considered going on politically; it was the fact he was so targeted
    whilst others get glowing coverage that really grates- and I think,
    patronizes the public in making up their own minds.

    Jo

    • Anonymous

      On the whole could I just say I think it’s a brilliant paper, especially Society G.
      Also- the coverage on the NHS reforms has been superb- eg NHS Blogs’ series.
      I’m equally fond of the Indy and BBC- but do dislike the heavily biased
      stuff from time to time- as if some sort of collective agenda across all media?

      My hope would be in the future for journalism and the news to become a far more democratic and representative medium- sharing and dissemination of info
      that’s not restricted to a bubble.Also used for useful purposes- such as community projects and education.There’s a lot of experience out there which I think is wasted-
      and far more of a “voice” could be developed, so long as channelled, and not just gossip.

      Would be interested to hear other people’s ideas on this; eg use of media
      in practical ways.

      Jo

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1369047172 David Clayton

        Sorry but the Guardian is an increasingly poor paper dominated by public school kids, making use of unpaid interns and supporting the interests and paternalistic preferences of a metropolitan elite against those of the majority.

        • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

          That’s a tidy sentence – perhaps you shouldn’t have begun it with an apology… 

          What I don’t like about the Guardian (in addition to the pro-Iraq war stance) is all the hand-wringing concern they churn out.

          You get a bit of what they know the readership will interpret as positive news, then follow it with a hand-wringingly dismal and weep-inducing detail – something like (to provide a non-political example) this:
          “Ecologists are celebrating the fact that more pandas were born this year than ever before. Yet surveys show that a significant number of the very cute baby pandas are devoured by mountain lions before they are three days old.”

          • Anonymous

            Sorry Dave and David- we’ll have to disagree on this one!

            Has to be said too- depends also on individual journalists; for example, I really like the Indy- but occasionally find pieces which jar and go against the grain.

            Also, S.Richards is fantastic in my view,
            but not to say I agree with everything he says.
            I just like his approach.

            I think of the news media a bit like “pic and mix;”
            I avoid the tabloids- but some really good stuff
            to be found. I also enjoy the Guardian a great deal;
            authors can vary as much as anywhere.

            Cheers, Jo.

  • Mr Chippy

    Do the connections. A whole number of bright young things from Oxbridge were appointed as advisors in the first days of the New Labour government. They socially networked with each other e.g. the Red Menace football team. They are parachuted into safe Labour seats or into public sector roles(e.g. Ed Richards – Ofcom). Tim Allan the source of the Watt article mentioned above first works for Murdoch no doubt as a “go-between” and then goes into the influence peddling industry using his contacts to pimp the Labour Government. Over time Miliband D and Purnell become the keepers of the Blairite flame. Purnell disappears up his own egotistical arse and the Blairite nomenklatura backs Miliband D in the leadership. They fail to get him elected and all their hopes of office which they can then trade in for financial advantage disappears. Wintour (who I recall played in the aforementioned Red Menace team as one of the players on my side broke his foot) no doubt had aspirations to be Miliband D’s Alistair Campbell. Nothing like the ambitions of overrated and overpromoted individuals being thwarted so there is an informal campaign to undermine Ed in the vain hope the Party will clamour for David. This will involve the normal suspects of the Blairite nomenklatura. Fools if and when Ed goes I am going for next generation. Time we stopped this preferment for the products of elite institutions and return to the products of people who are steeped in the Labour Movement.

  • Mr Chippy

    Do the connections. A whole number of bright young things from Oxbridge were appointed as advisors in the first days of the New Labour government. They socially networked with each other e.g. the Red Menace football team. They are parachuted into safe Labour seats or into public sector roles(e.g. Ed Richards – Ofcom). Tim Allan the source of the Watt article mentioned above first works for Murdoch no doubt as a “go-between” and then goes into the influence peddling industry using his contacts to pimp the Labour Government. Over time Miliband D and Purnell become the keepers of the Blairite flame. Purnell disappears up his own egotistical arse and the Blairite nomenklatura backs Miliband D in the leadership. They fail to get him elected and all their hopes of office which they can then trade in for financial advantage disappears. Wintour (who I recall played in the aforementioned Red Menace team as one of the players on my side broke his foot) no doubt had aspirations to be Miliband D’s Alistair Campbell. Nothing like the ambitions of overrated and overpromoted individuals being thwarted so there is an informal campaign to undermine Ed in the vain hope the Party will clamour for David. This will involve the normal suspects of the Blairite nomenklatura. Fools if and when Ed goes I am going for next generation. Time we stopped this preferment for the products of elite institutions and return to the products of people who are steeped in the Labour Movement.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with  what you say. Of course, the Guardian reporters are only reporting what Tim Allen said. It’s like that old argument about there wouldn’t be any kerb-crawlers if there wasn’t working girls or there wouldn’t be working girls if there wasn’t any kerb crawlers.

      If the Blairites were to stop their whispering, whinges  and nudges to the press there wouldn’t be anything to report, but they can’t let it go. And as somebody else noted further down the column (sorry, sir I’ve forgotten your name) Labour List itself has gone in for Ed Miliband knocking – he provided a good example, and we have had Luke Bozier and others providing articles to stoke the fire – a few of them positively gloated in the Twitter typo a couple of weeks ago, as if misspelling the title of a long defunct kids TV series was of major political import, one of them writing about it in the week following.

      All credit though to Mark Ferguson for allowing all shades of opinion – he is much more tolerant than the original head of the site would have been

  • http://twitter.com/reddeviljp jaydeepee

    The Guardian is pissed off because it backed the Lib-Dems and now they think they’re screwed royally because the Lib-Dems are dead and they don’t think EdM is up to it. So they begin their insiduous briefing against him and they’ve been doing it for some time.

  • Jenny Smith

    I have been worried about some of the coverage of the Milliband by the Guardian of late, but assumed that as a paper it was too close to the Lib Dems and their schizophrenic policies.  But we need honest reporting, with facts not fiction and to achnowledge that the Lib Dems are just trying to choose their policies in a sea of Tory destruction in the hope of bailing themselves out of a very sill decision to choose the nasty party as their bed fellows. 

    But the Guardian does seem to have an unballanced attitude to both the Eds.

  • Janiete

    I don’t think it’s an anti Miliband stance per se, more like an anti Labour stance in general. Has been going on for years.

  • Mike Murray

    The Guardian was instrumental in rubbishing Gordon Brown. It also deprived Labour of a fourth term by encouraging hundreds of thousands of students to vote for the Liberal Democrat stooges.  I have never considered it a paper of the left and I believe that it has never been a friend of the Labour party. In the eighties it was constantly plugging the Tories’ anti teacher agenda. The only mainstream paper of the left in this country that consistently supports the Labour Party  is the Daily Mirror. However,  if I want a  non tabloid analysis from the left, although I have never been a communist,  I go to The Morning Star which you can read online.  

    • happy.fish

      It all went wrong when it moved from Manchester!!

  • Anonymous

    Oh, system seems to be playing up again, will have to log off.

    Jo

  • Anonymous

    OK, thanks if you’ve rectified this Mark- I don’t know why
    system appears to play up sometimes; but once it happens,
    all subsequent comments sent are usually affected.

    Jo

  • Anonymous

    Does it matter? Outside of the BBC and teachers staffrooms you’ll probably never see 2 guardian readers within 50 feet of each other they’re so rare.

    It’s tanking, losing more and more money every year, and probably won’t last long.

    Also, their record on accuracy is appalling, check how many apologies they have to make compared to other papers.

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