Brown's Fleet Street friends

He may have lost the Sun but Brown still has the support of the FT

As Gordon Brown contemplates the Sun's defection to the Tories and the unhappy precedent of Neil Kinnock's defeat, he would do well to turn to today's Financial Times.

Along with the Mirror titles, the FT is Brown's last genuine friend on Fleet Street. The paper's leader today proclaims:

There is life yet in Gordon Brown. Or so it seemed, as he began his speech with a combative yet uncharacteristically succinct crescendo of the achievements of the past 12 years, the vindication of Labour's fight for change.

Thanks to an influential social-democratic faction the FT has endorsed Labour at every election since 1992. It's also the most Europhile newspaper in the country and is contemptuous of the Tories' sinister alliances in Brussels.

The paper's circulation may be a modest 395,845 copies a day (though that's more than either the Guardian or the Independent), but given its wealthy readership it effortlessly punches above its weight.

Meanwhile, the Tories, not surprisingly, are jubilant after winning the support of the Sun. Eric Pickles, the party chairman, said this morning that he had shared a "private moment" with the disgraced Andy Coulson on hearing the news. It was in part the fierce criticism of the former News of the World editor by the liberal press that convinced Rupert Murdoch to back Coulson's new boss, David Cameron.

But the Sun will not be an uncritical friend to the Conservatives and it was pathetic of Lord Mandelson to bleat about the paper becoming a "Tory fanzine". It's either acceptable for newspapers to hold political views or it's not. Certainly by this logic the Mirror is little more than a Labour Pravda.

The Sun is likely to press Cameron to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty even if the Irish approve it this Friday. It will lead the calls for him to repeal the 50p tax rate. It will encourage him to drastically reduce the NHS budget. Alastair Campbell was right to contrast today's negative headline, "Labour's lost it", with 1997's positive message "The Sun backs Blair". Here the paper mirrors the public's own uncertainties about Cameron.

That the tabloid's declaration for the Tories came after a speech in which Brown pledged the sort of "tough" action on antisocial behaviour consciously designed to appeal to the Sun is a painful irony for Labour. The futility of pandering to the conservative right has been exposed once more.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

John Moore
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The man who created the fake Tube sign explains why he did it

"We need to consider the fact that fake news isn't always fake news at the source," says John Moore.

"I wrote that at 8 o'clock on the evening and before midday the next day it had been read out in the Houses of Parliament."

John Moore, a 44-year-old doctor from Windsor, is describing the whirlwind process by which his social media response to Wednesday's Westminster attack became national news.

Moore used a Tube-sign generator on the evening after the attack to create a sign on a TfL Service Announcement board that read: "All terrorists are politely reminded that THIS IS LONDON and whatever you do to us we will drink tea and jolly well carry on thank you." Within three hours, it had just fifty shares. By the morning, it had accumulated 200. Yet by the afternoon, over 30,000 people had shared Moore's post, which was then read aloud on BBC Radio 4 and called a "wonderful tribute" by prime minister Theresa May, who at the time believed it was a genuine Underground sign. 

"I think you have to be very mindful of how powerful the internet is," says Moore, whose viral post was quickly debunked by social media users and then national newspapers such as the Guardian and the Sun. On Thursday, the online world split into two camps: those spreading the word that the sign was "fake news" and urging people not to share it, and those who said that it didn't matter that it was fake - the sentiment was what was important. 

Moore agrees with the latter camp. "I never claimed it was a real tube sign, I never claimed that at all," he says. "In my opinion the only fake news about that sign is that it has been reported as fake news. It was literally just how I was feeling at the time."

Moore was motivated to create and post the sign when he was struck by the "very British response" to the Westminster attack. "There was no sort of knee-jerk Islamaphobia, there was no dramatisation, it was all pretty much, I thought, very calm reporting," he says. "So my initial thought at the time was just a bit of pride in how London had reacted really." Though he saw other, real Tube signs online, he wanted to create his own in order to create a tribute that specifically epitomised the "very London" response. 

Yet though Moore insists he never claimed the sign was real, his caption on the image - which now has 100,800 shares - is arguably misleading. "Quintessentially British..." Moore wrote on his Facebook post, and agrees now that this was ambiguous. "It was meant to relate to the reaction that I saw in London in that day which I just thought was very calm and measured. What the sign was trying to do was capture the spirit I'd seen, so that's what I was actually talking about."

Not only did Moore not mean to mislead, he is actually shocked that anyone thought the sign was real. 

"I'm reasonably digitally savvy and I was extremely shocked that anyone thought it was real," he says, explaining that he thought everyone would be able to spot a fake after a "You ain't no muslim bruv" sign went viral after the Leytonstone Tube attack in 2015. "I thought this is an internet meme that people know isn't true and it's fine to do because this is a digital thing in a digital world."

Yet despite his intentions, Moore's sign has become the centre of debate about whether "nice" fake news is as problematic as that which was notoriously spread during the 2016 United States Presidential elections. Though Moore can understand this perspective, he ultimately feels as though the sentiment behind the sign makes it acceptable. 

"I use the word fake in inverted commas because I think fake implies the intention to deceive and there wasn't [any]... I think if the sentiment is ok then I think it is ok. I think if you were trying to be divisive and you were trying to stir up controversy or influence people's behaviour then perhaps I wouldn't have chosen that forum but I think when you're only expressing your own emotion, I think it's ok.

"The fact that it became so-called fake news was down to other people's interpretation and not down to the actual intention... So in many interesting ways you can see that fake news doesn't even have to originate from the source of the news."

Though Moore was initially "extremely shocked" at the reponse to his post, he says that on reflection he is "pretty proud". 

"I'm glad that other people, even the powers that be, found it an appropriate phrase to use," he says. "I also think social media is often denigrated as a source of evil and bad things in the world, but on occasion I think it can be used for very positive things. I think the vast majority of people who shared my post and liked my post have actually found the phrase and the sentiment useful to them, so I think we have to give social media a fair judgement at times and respect the fact it can be a source for good."

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.