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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Watch: The evidence Nigel Farage said money sent to the EU should go to the NHS

After the EU referendum result, Nigel Farage said it was a "mistake" for Leave to suggest funds could go to the NHS. But what's this?

Remember Friday? (I know: it's not necessarily a pleasant thing to do, but bear with me.) On Friday, hours after the result of the EU referendum was announced, Nigel Farage appeared on Good Morning Britain and said that the Leave campaign advertising which linked the extra "£350m a week" Brexit would allegedly gift us with the NHS was a "mistake".

Sure, it was on posters, and emblazoned on a bus, and he didn't speak up to disabuse anyone of the notion. But let's give Farage the benefit of the doubt and pretend he does sorely regret the fact that, through no fault of his own, members of the electorate may have been led to believe that that money would be put into healthcare. It must be tough, when you ought to be high on your victory, to have to answer for other people's mistakes

Ah. Hold that thought.

It looks like the Independent has unearthed a video of Nigel Farage on television before the vote, and  strange thing  he tells Hilary Benn that the money currently being sent to Europe should be spent on, er, "schools, hospitals and the NHS".

Well, this mole isn't sure what to say. Maybe Farage doesn't remember this specific moment? Maybe when he said "schools, hospitals and the NHS" he actually meant something different, like "negotiating our exit from the EU", or "paying to access the common market despite no longer being a member"? Or maybe when he said that money should be spent on these things, he didn't mean it necessarily would be, and it would have been entirely unreasonable for the voting public to make such an absurd leap?

All I can suggest is that you watch and decide for yourself, dear reader.

I'm a mole, innit.