An article in this week’s New Statesman (“In the Post-Corbyn World, What Next for Alternative Left Media?“) spurred Guido to do some research into their traffic and how they are performing generally. The short answer is not very well in terms of raw audience size. In comparison to right-of-centre political news and opinion sites they are well behind. Like-for-like The Spectator has double the New Statesman’s readership. To give you an idea how much worse they are faring after the Corbyn-era glory days, consider this, Toby Young’s Daily Sceptic alone had last month more online readers than the New Statesman, Novara Media and Morning Star combined!
Even the upstart newly launched GB News website has more traffic than most left-wing websites and those same websites say GB News is failing. The question that needs answering is why are right-of-centre news and views outlets out-performing – in terms of audience reach – left-of-centre news and views websites? Some of them will argue that we’re looking in the wrong place – the audience is not just on their website. The Canary and Skwawkbox generate engagement on Facebook which outstrips their own native website audience by a multiple. Novara Media’s videos and podcasts are apparently seen by far more viewers and listeners than will read their articles. Owen Jones has his own lucrative YouTube channel. Of course GB News has a television channel so can’t be compared like-for-like, it also has an active online video audience, as do the Spectator and Unherd. They match the left for reach, similarly they tend to preach to the converted. The only place where the left-wing media seems dominant is on social media, Twitter in particular.
Is the left’s supposed dominance of Twitter entirely true? The left are are certainly more active on Twitter, in terms of followers however @GuidoFawkes has more than any of the left-wing politics sites. Academic research suggests that left-wing Twitter is more active and that activity is mainly preaching to the converted and engaging with other left-wingers. The left is more active on Twitter undoubtedly and it gives the micro-blogging site a hostile atmosphere for right-of-centre users, however election after election shows that, in the words of David Cameron, “Britain is not Twitter”. As the SNP’s Cyber-Nats demonstrate all too loudly, ferocious activity is not evidence of numbers.
Is it money? The New Statesman is backed by Mike Danson, a billionaire willing to bankroll the millions in annual losses of the magazine without flinching. Novara Media got funding from a foundation backed by millionaire philanthropists, Tribune Magazine has the backing of an American publisher. The healthy tradition on the left of funding publications from readers’ donations means Novara Media and Owen Jones have six-figure revenues and paid staff, on the right only Toby Young’s Daily Sceptic is funded likewise. The Spectator and Guido Fawkes are profit-making commercially competitive media enterprises that stand on their own two feet, they are also read in droves by left-of-centre readers who don’t share their editorial line for the news, gossip and entertainment, whereas few right-of-centre readers would enjoy reading the dreary ideological output of most left-wing publications. Funding isn’t the problem.
Perhaps the answer is simply that the likes of the Guardian, Daily Mirror, Buzzfeed News, Huffington Post and the BBC provide most left-of-centre news consumers with satisfactory confirmation of their prejudices such that they just don’t have to venture out to the alt-left for content that appeals. Is it just that in the wider media context it is harder for the alt-left to appeal beyond an ideological core readership?
As if his newfound commitment to low taxes wasn’t enough, Sir Keir’s now doubling down on his efforts to infuriate the far left ahead of conference. According to BFAWU union president, Ian Hodson, Labour has banned Socialist Appeal from reporting from the Brighton conference this weekend – yet to the annoyance of some comrades accrediting The Sun and offering a double hall stand to GB News:
“Hearing the s@# will be in the @UKLabour conference but they have banned #SocalistAppeal from being able to report on the conference. How did we get here Trade unionists Anti racists should be absolutely livid, that the hate filled rag is attending conference #JFT97“
Skwawkbox insists the party is “fundamentally diseased” if it allows the “the foul rag” (“The S*n”) to show up, and is calling the decision an act of “moral cowardice and bankruptcy”. Socialist Appeal will always be able to keep up with Labour conference’s goings-on via Guido, who will certainly be attending…
Enforcement action is once again been taken against Unite and Skwawkbox, after both failed to cough up the £680,000 accrued in legal fees following former Labour MP Anna Turley’s libel victory against them in December 2019. This after they were already forced to fork out £75,000 to Turley personally…
Turley sued Unite and Skwawkbox’s Steve Walker after Walker ran an article accusing her of joining the union using a 50p membership rate intended for the unemployed, with Turley claiming Walker and Unite damaged her reputation and misused her private information. The expensive High Court hearing found in her favour.
Now it turns out the legal bills Unite and Skwawkbox racked up in their failed defence are still unpaid, so bailiffs will be knocking at the union’s offices today. Turley’s lawyers have also commenced bankruptcy proceedings against Walker. Of course this all reflects on the judgement of Howard Beckett, who currently is the union’s legal officer standing as the hard-left’s candidate for general secretary…
The Byline Times ran a piece entitled “Home Office fails to explain strange expenses”, in which they investigated the reported spend on the department’s expenses logs. Among the outgoings included £107,269.40 spent with Global Beauty Products Limited, and £5,415.90 at Primark. Skwawkbox reprinted the investigation, claiming the Home Office’s procurement card “revealed list of shocking spending”. Guido reckons both outlets are about to experience some red faces…
Guido’s made some inquiries and, without much effort, discovered:
A Home Office source tells Guido much of the £5,400 Primark claim was, in fact, for refugees – not just clothes for migrants. The Byline Times prides itself in reporting “what the papers don’t say” – turns out there’s good reason for that…
UPDATE: A couple more contentious spends explained:
– £3,774.29 at Pollyana Restaurant was a hire charge for training
– £900 at The Magdalen Arms was hiring the place out as a training venue for staff
Back in December, the former MP for Redcar, Anna Turley, successfully won a court case against Unite and Skwawkbox for libel, with her winning £75,000 in damages, with both organisations being jointly liable for covering both the payout and the court cost.
Last night, Turley reared her head once more to announce the two have failed to pay the damages and costs, and subsequently her solicitors were starting enforcement proceedings.
Unite and Skwawkbox have failed to pay the damages and costs following my libel trial last month as ordered by the court. My solicitors are starting enforcement proceedings in the morning. pic.twitter.com/pS8wpwIekF— Anna Turley (@annaturley) January 16, 2020
In the latest development, the former MP has published a letter from her solicitors declaring given Unite’s failure to pay up, “The only conclusion we can draw is that your clients have deliberately chosen to cause further distress to Ms Turley or they are incompetent. Which is it?”, going on to say
“We have prepared enforcement papers that will permit bailiffs to attend at your clinets’ premises to enforce the two final judgements. We shall issue these when the Court opens on Monday morning if the full judgement debts, together with ongoing interest, have not been satisfied.”
This is much more entertaining than the Labour leadership contest…
UPDATE: Unite and Skwawkbox have finally coughed up
Unite & Skwawkbox have belatedly paid the damages and costs as ordered by the court. Proving after all that they are not above the law. What an avoidable waste of members’ money. Lesson is... don’t break the law.— Anna Turley (@annaturley) January 21, 2020
Despite losing her Redcar seat last week, Anna Turley’s fortunes have brightened today after emerging victorious from her high court libel fight with Skwawkbox and being awarded £75,000 in damages. Withhold your laughter…
The case in question surrounded a blog post on the site in 2017 containing a press statement from Unite, which gave the impression she had been dishonest when applying to join the union – in turn also misusing her private information. During the hearings, both Unite and Skwawkbox blogger Stephen Walker claimed she wasn’t fit to be an MP – something, ironically, the voters of Redcar agreed with…
Turley had wanted over £100,000, only to be haggled down to just £75,000 in damages – still thousands more than Guido presumes Skwawkbox can afford. Read Turley’s full statement below: