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Keir Starmer and the Labour Party – Press and Pundits Running Out of Dirty Tricks

Veteran media observer Tim Fenton watches as the right wing press paints itself into a pre-election corner

Newspaper headlines at the opening of the 2019 General Election. Photo: World History Archive/Alamy

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The right-leaning part of our free and fearless press has, since the Conservative Party’s poll lead vanished and Labour went in front by a margin now over 20%, tried every tactic in order to instruct their readership to vote in line with the superior insights of their editors, hacks and pundits. Every trick in the book of dirty tricks has been deployed. And the result thus far is total abject failure.

Soft left? Extremist doctors? How shall I put thisSome of the scare stories are off the scale batshit, exemplified by Janet Daly of the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, someone who can be located in the no man’s land between “has-been” and “never was”, today bringing readers “Capitulation to the soft Left has ruined Britain”. Another who, in the days of Bill Deedes, would not have got in the Telegraph’s door.

Tory attempts to stop the Telegraph being sold off are pointless, though: free markets are wonderful until they mean your main propaganda conduit getting sold, all right-wing hands on deck, wittering about FREEZE PEACH, all this will be to no avail, sale or no. Hello press and pundits – you are facing an electorate that cares only about securing one outcome – sending the Tories packing.

Sure, there has been some unhappiness at Labour’s stance on the behaviour of Israel and its security agencies recently, and some high-profile resignations, but this, as the saying goes, has been “priced in”. Many of those voters will return to the Labour fold come the General Election, and those that don’t are not going anywhere near the Tories. And it gets worse.

The more traditional attack lines, like trying to pick apart your opponent’s tax and spending plans, won’t work either. So the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog wetting themselves over Labour’s environmental commitments “only being an objective”, and not a spending commitment, is also pointless. The public mind is made up.

Worse, the filter being applied by many voters is merely entrenching their view: tax and spend attacks are filtered out, but the horror show of post-Brexit realisation that many who voted Leave were conned is not. Attempts to deflect the Post Office scandal onto either Labour, the Lib Dems, or both, have failed. As for the broadcast cheerleaders, no, that ain’t working, either.

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Fiona Bruce realised that when she told a BBC Question Time audience that many of them would be voting Conservative, only to realise that they would not. Laura Kuenssberg has tried a variation on that today by telling Yvette Cooper that many viewers would disagree with her. She doesn’t have the immediacy of a studio audience. But she’ll find out that was wrong.

If the Tories and their hangers-on want to know what is going on, they need to stop and think: contrary to all the talking up of Tory Prime Ministers from David Cameron to Theresa May to Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to Liz Truss to Rishi Sunak, voters know all of them do not measure up to who went before, whether it is Tony Blair or Gordon they use as a comparator.

Voters also know that Ms Truss and her pals from Tufton Street came mightily close to totally screwing the UK’s finances. They know Sunak is irredeemably out of touch and dishonest with it. They know, especially, that the media class, yes, including Ms Kuenssberg, talked up Johnson when the bloke was monumentally inept, dishonest, selfish, lazy, and totally uncaring.

Yes, a few on the fringes will listen to pundits from GB News believe the barrage of lies being broadcast. To a lesser extent, this is also true of Murdoch media noise floor occupant TalkTV. But these people will not swing constituencies from one party to another. Nor will the increasingly cruel Government policies.

The Rwanda plan, apparently thought up on the fly by Boris Johnson as another of those wizard wheezes to get through another news cycle, is unlikely to see anyone deported. Cutting already inadequate benefits may get a few bigots on board, but so many voters will move the other way as to negate them.

The next two by-elections, Kingswood and Wellingborough, are highly likely to be lost by the Tories. Heavily. Whatever the press tries to dream up.

Save your breath, Tory backers. The voters want your team out. That is all.

Tim Fenton’s regular observations can be found on his blog at Zelo Street.

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