Mandelson bites back at the Sun

A virtuoso performance but Labour should end its neurotic focus on the tabloid

Lord Mandelson gave a bravura performance on the Today programme this morning, railing against the "crude politicking" of the Sun. Is he right to claim there's a "contract" between the paper and the Conservatives? Essentially, yes. As I've noted before, David Cameron's plan to freeze the television licence fee and, even more, his pledge to abolish Ofcom are remarkably convenient for the Murdoch-owned Sky.

Mandelson said: "What the Sun can do for the Conservatives before and during the election is one part of that contract. And presumably what the Conservatives can do for News International if they are elected is the other side of that bargain." Spot on.

He was also right to argue that the Sun exculpates the Taliban when it focuses so relentlessly on equipment failures in Afghanistan."If you read the Sun, you would think that the enemy that our brave troops on the ground are fighting is the British government," he said. (Incidentally, this criticism also applies to Jacqui Janes, who spoke as if Gordon Brown, rather than the Taliban, was personally responsible for the death of her son.)

Much as I enjoy Mandelson's sharp turn of phrase, I think it's time for Labour to end its neurotic focus on the Sun. Ministers cannot claim that the tabloid has little or no influence on elections and then devote appearance after appearance to trashing its editorial stance.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Appreciate the full horror of Nigel Farage's pro-Trump speech

The former Ukip leader has appeared at a Donald Trump rally. It went exactly as you would expect.

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce Nigel Farage is at it again.

The on-again, off-again Ukip leader and current Member of the European Parliament has appeared at a Donald Trump rally to lend his support to the presidential candidate.

It was, predictably, distressing.

Farage started by telling his American audience why they, like he, should be positive.

"I come to you from the United Kingdom"

Okay, good start. Undeniably true.

"– with a message of hope –

Again, probably quite true.

Image: Clearly hopeful (Wikipedia Screenshot)

– and optimism.”

Ah.

Image: Nigel Farage in front of a poster showing immigrants who are definitely not European (Getty)

He continues: “If the little people, if the real people–”

Wait, what?

Why is Trump nodding sagely at this?

The little people?

Image: It's a plane with the name Trump on it (Wikimedia Commons)

THE LITTLE PEOPLE?

Image: It's the word Trump on the side of a skyscraper I can't cope with this (Pixel)

THE ONLY LITTLE PERSON CLOSE TO TRUMP IS RIDING A MASSIVE STUFFED LION

Image: I don't even know what to tell you. It's Trump and his wife and a child riding a stuffed lion. 

IN A PENTHOUSE

A PENTHOUSE WHICH LOOKS LIKE LIBERACE WAS LET LOOSE WITH THE GILT ON DAY FIVE OF A PARTICULARLY BAD BENDER

Image: So much gold. Just gold, everywhere.

HIS WIFE HAS SO MANY BAGS SHE HAS TO EMPLOY A BAG MAN TO CARRY THEM

Image: I did not even know there were so many styles of Louis Vuitton, and my dentists has a lot of old copies of Vogue.

Anyway. Back to Farage, who is telling the little people that they can win "against the forces of global corporatism".

 

Image: Aaaaarggghhhh (Wikipedia Screenshot)

Ugh. Okay. What next? Oh god, he's telling them they can have a Brexit moment.

“... you can beat Washington...”

“... if enough decent people...”

“...are prepared to stand up against the establishment”

Image: A screenshot from Donald Trump's Wikipedia page.

I think I need a lie down.

Watch the full clip here:

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland