Don't blame HMV for its demise

It's our fault - because we're too lazy to support our shops

Much has been said of the strange aspects of human nature exposed by the online revolution. The fact that we're mean to people, for instance, in a way we'd never be face-to-face – or the countless positives, like generosity with sharing information, researching stuff just for the hell of it, helping people we’ll never meet. But the HMV story this week shows that the internet has also become, quite powerfully, a justification for being tight-fisted, idle and, worst of all, proud of it. We’ve watched intelligent people from the entertainment industry make mournful pronouncements at the store’s collapse, at the same time as admitting that – “naturally” – they can’t remember when they last set foot in it. One such bloke I know lives in central London; he is a serious music lover who orders all his albums, including new releases, on vinyl, and has a vast collection. On Tuesday he said, it is a dark day, “but the fact is, the thought of going across town to buy something I could get two quid cheaper on line is now baffling to me.” This man is healthy, with the use of both of his legs. He has a good income, he’s generous with it, and he has time. Most importantly, he loves music and films and believes in paying for them. But get off a chair to do so? So forcefully have similar opinions been coming out this week, on Twitter and Facebook, they appear to be the views of any rational, media-savvy human being. But it’s only part of the story.

 
On Saturday afternoons, or late on weekday nights, or bank holidays, or any of the other times in which people are wont to relax, the flagship HMV store on Oxford Street is teeming with people (it’s hard not to be capital-centric here, because the smaller stores have been de-stocked as the company suffers). Some old photos from the ’60s have been doing the rounds this week making people nostalgic for a better age, but the fact is, the scenes of happy HMV shoppers 40 years ago are very much the same as those on New Year’s Day 2013 (sadly, so too are most of the prices). I know this because I was there. People are not in the music section any more, of course, but the film section  – and for really simple reasons, which are worth reiterating, if just for posterity. They want to see a movie, but they don’t know which one. They come here because there are hardly any video rental places now. They need the physical product to make their choices, because often, it’s simply a case of being reminded that movie "x" or "y"
exists.
 
In the next few weeks we will watch everything that happened to CDS being played out, fast-forward, in the DVD industry; in six months we won’t believe we ever “browsed” for films, or lived without Netflix – that’s inevitable, and it’s stupid to get sad about it. But please, let’s not blame HMV for its own demise – they lasted longer than anyone, and they did what they could. And let’s not blame the recession, or digital downloads in the abstract. The future of entertainment consumption has been decided, for all of us, by people who no longer think it’s acceptable to get off their rosy red arse and spend the price of their lunch on an album or a film they want to own.
An HMV store in central London (Getty Images)

Kate Mossman is the New Statesman's arts editor and pop critic.

Dan Kitwood/Getty
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I believe only Yvette Cooper has the breadth of support to beat Jeremy Corbyn

All the recent polling suggests Andy Burnham is losing more votes than anyone else to Jeremy Corbyn, says Diana Johnson MP.

Tom Blenkinsop MP on the New Statesman website today says he is giving his second preference to Andy Burnham as he thinks that Andy has the best chance of beating Jeremy.

This is on the basis that if Yvette goes out first all her second preferences will swing behind Andy, whereas if Andy goes out first then his second preferences, due to the broad alliance he has created behind his campaign, will all or largely switch to the other male candidate, Jeremy.

Let's take a deep breath and try and think through what will be the effect of preferential voting in the Labour leadership.

First of all, it is very difficult to know how second preferences will switch. From my telephone canvassing there is some rather interesting voting going on, but I don't accept that Tom’s analysis is correct. I have certainly picked up growing support for Yvette in recent weeks.

In fact you can argue the reverse of Tom’s analysis is true – Andy has moved further away from the centre and, as a result, his pitch to those like Tom who are supporting Liz first is now narrower. As a result, Yvette is more likely to pick up those second preferences.

Stats from the Yvette For Labour team show Yvette picking up the majority of second preferences from all candidates – from the Progress wing supporting Liz to the softer left fans of Jeremy – and Andy's supporters too. Their figures show many undecideds opting for Yvette as their first preference, as well as others choosing to switch their first preference to Yvette from one of the other candidates. It's for this reason I still believe only Yvette has the breadth of support to beat Jeremy and then to go on to win in 2020.

It's interesting that Andy has not been willing to make it clear that second preferences should go to Yvette or Liz. Yvette has been very clear that she would encourage second preferences to be for Andy or Liz.

Having watched Andy on Sky's Murnaghan show this morning, he categorically states that Labour will not get beyond first base with the electorate at a general election if we are not economically credible and that fundamentally Jeremy's economic plans do not add up. So, I am unsure why Andy is so unwilling to be clear on second preferences.

All the recent polling suggests Andy is losing more votes than anyone else to Jeremy. He trails fourth in London – where a huge proportion of our electorate is based.

So I would urge Tom to reflect more widely on who is best placed to provide the strongest opposition to the Tories, appeal to the widest group of voters and reach out to the communities we need to win back. I believe that this has to be Yvette.

The Newsnight focus group a few days ago showed that Yvette is best placed to win back those former Labour voters we will need in 2020.

Labour will pay a massive price if we ignore this.

Diana Johnson is the Labour MP for Hull North.