Newly-returned shadow frontbencher Wes Streeting has a star showing in The Sun today off the back of Labour’s new attack line that kids from the poorest parts of Britain are twice as likely to be mugged than their posher peers. This is far from a new media strategy from Streeting who has often defended speaking to The Sun in the face of virtue signalling left-wing Tweeters.
Yep. Voters read the Sun and we absolutely want to talk to them.— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) August 2, 2021
In 2016 Wes proffered a longer defence of his interactions with the paper:
“Refusing to engage with the Sun because of disagreements with their editorial positions is self-defeating: Labour won’t win elections by talking to ourselves or by ducking debates”
While Wes’s position hasn’t changed, his 2016 statement came during his pre-shadow cabinet career, and before Southside’s communications team dictated what shadow ministers say to whom. During Sir Keir’s leadership election, he proudly boasted a Liverpool audience, “I certainly won’t be giving any interviews to The Sun during the course of this campaign.” His hardline position was applauded by those in and out the room, with Ash Sarkar commending the then-frontrunner:
Exceptionally strong answer from Keir Starmer on media bias and a vow never to give an interview to The Sun.— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) January 18, 2020
Co-conspirators will have to guess whether Starmer’s previous Sun hate was playing to an audience or whether Labour’s new Sun flirting is a conscious concession to common sense. Labour’s swathe of new Blairite advisers and spinners in recent weeks will surely have changed a few attitudes…
A casual reading of the note pictured above, taken from the footer of a recent Guardian article, could give the reader the impression that the Guardian was responsible for the undoubted scoop of the year. According to The Guardian’s begging appeal, the revelation of Hancock’s extra-marital office shenanigans
“… once again highlights the urgent need for independent news organisations like the Guardian to scrutinise public figures and hold them to the highest standards.”
Except it doesn’t, because the Guardian had nothing to do with the scoop, they just followed up The Sun’s front page a day later. The Guardian’s too busy running paid for advertorials dictated by billionaire Bill Gates to be getting scoops. As one Sun executive quipped to Guido, the last scoop he read in the Guardian was about “quinoa shortages in Bolivia“.
Starmer’s sacked PPS Carolyn Harris – even according to allies of Starmer – was “a bit of a liability”, so it is no surprise she has had to go. Or as a statement released by Starmer’s office to The Times put it, Harris said she was “stepping back from this role”, after she was asked to justify what The Times delicately described as “baseless rumours” she was said to be spreading about Angela Rayner. Guido’s not convinced the rumours are baseless.
Last October The Sun reported Angela Rayner had grown close to her Momentum backing leadership campaign manager Sam Tarry, under the headline “Labour deputy Angela Rayner strikes up close friendship with married MP after split from husband”. The Sun euphemistically said “Angela Rayner has struck up a close friendship” with Sam Tarry. In return Rayner helped Tarry win the Ilford South seat, going out of her way to campaign for him to successfully get into parliament during the 2019 general election:
Soon after Rayner gave the newly-elected Tarry a position which would mean he would work with her as “the Deputy Leader’s Parliamentary Lead on Campaigns & Organisation.” Carolyn Harris saw this as a dangerous opportunity for a Momentum hardliner to organise within the PLP and help rig candidate selections for the left. Negative briefing from Carolyn Harris about Angela Rayner and Sam Tarry therefore combined the personal and the political.
When The Sun asked if Rayner and Tarry were having an intimate relationship, they got the reply “Any suggestion that she has made any appointment based upon anything other than professional merit, experience and ability will be considered highly defamatory.” Which is of course a denial that she gave his a career leg-up, not that he got a leg-over…
Guido picked up a copy of this month’s painfully woke GQ, which has just hit the news stands. In it the Daily Mail’s editor, Geordie Grieg, has granted only the second interview of his editorship. The first interview with the FT resulted in a complete car crash after he dissed the great Paul Dacre to such a degree that Dacre wrote to the FT to deliver a monumental slap down to his successor. His second interview is timed to coincide with the Daily Mail finally surpassing The Sun in daily sales. Or as the hagiographic Matt Kelly puts it:
“… now the Mail has in all actualité, attained the one great prize to elude even Dacre, you’d have to have a heart of pure weapons-grade vitriol to begrudge Grieg and his team their moment in the sun, as they passed The Sun to become the bestselling newspaper in the country.”
This interview was done in June, before the newspaper industry forced ABC to cease publishing sales figures that have dramatically plummeted during the pandemic. Guido however has managed to prise open the undisclosed ABC circulation figures and can reveal that The Sun in July returned to being the tabloid primus inter pares. Geordie’s day in the sun was short and the interview’s whole premise was overtaken in July by cold hard print sales figures…The latest figures (not published) by the Audit Bureau of Circulation show that in July The Sun outsold the Daily Mail by 1,030,000 to 999,000 – both titles down double digit percentages from pre-pandemic. Geordie doesn’t have much luck with his annual interviews…
The Remain supporting commentariat became overwhelmed with excitement late last night off the back of a report from The Sun‘s Tom Newton Dunn, claiming Brexit grandees IDS and Owen Paterson had created a “big split”, branding Boris’ deal “unacceptable” and ‘exploding’ at Number 10 officials. It could have been a big moment, if it were in the slightest bit true…
Excl: Big split opens up among Tory Eurosceptics over whether to back Boris’s Brexit deal, as Owen Paterson brands it “absurd” and “unacceptable”. Iain Duncan-Smith also said to have “exploded” at No10 officials.https://t.co/tJoBZ0lk0N
— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) October 15, 2019
In reality Paterson’s comments were about a reheated May deal, not Boris’ new negotiations which he told Julia Hartley Brewer on TalkRADIO this morning he welcomed. Read his full comments about May’s deal in context on ConservativeHome this morning without distortion from Tom…
Iain Duncan Smith similarly shot down the report on BBC Breakfast this morning, saying there was enormous “goodwill” towards Boris’ new negotiations and he has not “exploded” at all.
Guido hears that The Sun didn’t even approach Number 10 for comment before publishing the story. Classic Tom “exclusive”…
UPDATE: IDS has told Guido that he categorically denied the story to Tom Newton Dunn yesterday evening, and Tom admitted that The Sun‘s ‘source’ was not even in the room. Number 10 are pushing back now too, with a spokesperson saying of the Sun’s story “This account is not true.”
Bill Newton Dunn signed a letter to Tusk yesterday calling for any deal to be rejected by the EU in order to force a second referendum. Perhaps the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…
Guido predicted at the beginning of last year that the change to Facebook’s algorithms would impact online traffic dramtically for those websites that specialised in making content go viral to drive traffic. Taking a look at some of our rivals; one site that bucked the trend was ConservativeHome, the turmoil in the party has been good for their trade, with pageviews up by 13% on the year, although the number of unique users has fallen slightly, likely as a result of there being no general election in 2018. Guido is relieved to only be down 1.89% year-on-year, not so bad in an off election year. On the left it would seem that The Canary, which used to be neck and neck in traffic terms with Guido, finished the year much weaker. Is that because of Facebook or outrage fatigue?
The other sites impacted badly by the Facebook algo change were the newspapers’ websites. According to ABC figures Mail Online was down 16% year-on-year and Sun Online was down 12%. Guido understands that because of the New Statesman’s new semi-permeable paywall it too has seen an even more dramatic collapse in online traffic…