Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
25 September 2011

Tessa Jowell: Labour’s message is “just white noise“

In the country at large, "nobody is listening", says shadow Olympics minister.

By Samira Shackle

Tessa Jowell has given a frank interview to the Independent on Sunday, in which she says that the public is not listening to Labour because of a breakdown in trust over the economy, its stance on welfare and immigration, and its relationship with the Murdoch empire.

As the Labour party conference kicks off in Liverpool, this may not be the positive message that Ed Miliband wants to send. In her harshest comments, Jowell, said:

What we’ve got to accept is that in the country more widely, nobody is listening. The biggest battle that Labour has at the moment is to be relevant and to be heard… For so many people, it’s just white noise.

She is joined by two other Blairite MPs — Liam Byrne and Alan Johnson — in calling for Miliband to apologise for Labour’s mistakes on the economy in his speech to conference. His aides have said that they believe the moment for an apology has passed, and he is not expected to go any further than saying that there is a “long way to go” to regain public trust.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Her comments likening the last Labour government’s relationship to the Murdoch empire to “crack cocaine” has also drawn headlines:

I think that the mistake that we made – it’s a bit like the crack cocaine of politics, isn’t it? Getting a good write-up, or the horror of a bad write-up. At its worst, Westminster politics is like a private conversation between Westminster media and Westminster politicians, and the rest of the world are eavesdroppers on a private conversation, and that’s got to change.

This clearly shows Labour — even those deeply committed to thew New Labour project — keen to distance themselves from the Murdoch empire and the corruption revealed in the phone-hacking scandal. It’s also in keeping with Miliband’s strategy of positioning Labour as the party of the “squeezed middle”, rather than of the political elites