Whoever wins the Labour leadership must distance the party from Murdoch

In defence of Caroline Crampton

I have been surprised by the number of Labour people who have got in touch today to question the wisdom of my colleague Caroline Crampton's blog last night suggesting that David Miliband should look into the relationship between New Labour and the Murdochs. Surprised because the very idea of Labour distancing itself from the mogul's empire appears to be a non-starter int he eyes of many.

The ultra-close relationship between New Labour and Murdoch -- needless because Murdoch does not, contrary to conventional wisdom, determine the result of elections; he merely backs the winner -- is something I have been pursuing through the Freedom of Information Act for some time.

Any reflection on that relationship leads to the conclusion that it was one that -- as Neil Kinnock rightly and colourfully warned Alastair Campbell in the early days of Blair's premiership -- was a bad one for Labour. The support of the Sun, and the importance attached to that by New Labour figures, finally came back to haunt Labour dramatically at the last general election. But the poisonous effects of New Labour's courting of a right-wing press whose agenda was always diametrically opposed to Labour's could be seen well before that.

It would be to the credit of any new Labour leader to pursue his own agenda and not let it be influenced unnecessarily by outside forces ultimately out to get him. If the party can't get that at this stage then it has no hope of "moving on" from the Blair-Brown years.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for International Trade.

Only Nixon, it is said, could have gone to China. Only a politician with the impeccable Commie-bashing credentials of the 37th President had the political capital necessary to strike a deal with the People’s Republic of China.

Theresa May’s great hope is that only Liam Fox, the newly-installed Secretary of State for International Trade, has the Euro-bashing credentials to break the news to the Brexiteers that a deal between a post-Leave United Kingdom and China might be somewhat harder to negotiate than Vote Leave suggested.

The biggest item on the agenda: striking a deal that allows Britain to stay in the single market. Elsewhere, Fox should use his political capital with the Conservative right to wait longer to sign deals than a Remainer would have to, to avoid the United Kingdom being caught in a series of bad deals. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.